Am I for arranged marriages? Not really. Marriage is important to many Pagan traditions, but lovers are also honored, and at times our view of marriage is very, very different from mainstream religions. Yet I recognize that being part of a religious minority can make dating and marriage difficult. Recently on the Pantheon blog we spoke of the choice to raise children as Pagan.  Watching Arranged made me think about having Pagan daughters and sons. Who would I want their lovers to be? If they married, what would I want for them in a spouse? I would want their partners to treat their bodies as holy, beautiful, and sacred. I would want them to respect their minds, their hearts and to cherish their outspoken uniqueness. I would want them to take pride in my children's spirituality. I would cry if I heard my child's partner deride their beliefs as silly or superstitious, or if they asked my children to be less Pagan, because if my children would be anything like me, then being less Pagan would mean being less themselves.

That was the key message I received from Arranged: that being less faithful to our religious convictions makes us less ourselves, and that people of faith have more in common than we tend to think. Nasira and Rochel have very different religious traditions and cultures. Yet the processes of their hearts are the same. They use different names for their God, they worship in different ways, and they dress in different ways to express their commitment to their faith. Yet when Nasira tells Rochel, "God will show a way," she strikes at a central core belief that transcends any particular religious traditions. While I would say, "the Gods will show a way" and some of my friends would say "Goddess will show a way," it all strikes to the heart of our beliefs: that all that which is Divine is in a positive relationship with us and wants us to fulfill our full potential.

The film Agora has a great line: "There is more that unites us than divides us." Difference is important and to be honored, but that does not mean we are at odds with each other. The joy, the doubt, the faith, the struggle and the striving to be a good person are core things we all share, regardless of faith. They are things Rochel and Nasira share and find to be the basis of a deep friendship for all their differences. Together they realize they are not alone, and that they are in no way less for being committed to their faith. This is a film worth watching and discussing with the women of faith in your lives.

Arranged (2007) is available on DVD, and at the time of writing is available for streaming on Netflix.