Making the Grades
Just like A Man Called Peter, who lived in Galilee a long time ago, left his fish net to answer a higher call, so did Peter Marshall (played by Richard Todd). Originally, he too hoped to earn his living at sea, but an epiphany one foggy night during the 1920s changed the course of his life.
Miraculously saved from a potentially fatal accident, the young Scotsman concludes God has a plan and purpose for him. With that vision clearly in mind, Peter scrimps and saves until he has enough money to go to America, attend a theologian seminary, and become a Presbyterian minister. All along the way, he continues to converse with the Lord, finding the guidance and direction he needs as he labors in the Master's vineyard.
Based on a true story (and a book by the same name), the film follows the amazing career of this impoverished immigrant, from his ministry to a humble small-town congregation, to his position as the pastor of the prestigious New York Avenue Church of the Presidents in Washington DC, and his later appointment as Chaplain to the United States Senate. Blessed with a talent for oration, the charismatic clergyman finds himself preaching to standing-room-only crowds, thanks to his ability to talk about his friend Jesus in a way appealing to rich and poor, young and old, Presbyterian and other denominations alike. The movie also focuses on the woman who stood by his side, his beloved wife Catherine Wood (Jean Peters), their romance, their trials and their triumphs.
The script uses excerpts from many of his famous sermons, including those on such topics as the reality of God, the nature of marriage, and the role of women in an increasingly liberated society. His speech on death, presented to the young soldiers at the Annapolis Naval Academy, is particularly touching--because it took place just moments prior to the announcement of Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor.
Those with a taste for some "old time religion" are sure to enjoy the inspirational feast served up by A Man Called Peter. However, viewers with less of an appetite for traditional Christianity may find it has a preachy flavor. Regardless of one's pallet preference, his words do offer a few morsels worthy of being chewed over.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about A Man Called Peter.
The movie quotes from a prayer Dr. Peter Marshall addressed to the Senate in the late 1940s: “Give us a clear vision that we may know where to stand and what to stand for—because unless we stand for something we shall fall for anything.” Do you feel these words hold any wisdom for today? How have society’s philosophies changed over the years since he gave these sermons?
Audio transcripts of some of Dr. Marshall’s sermons are available at a website hosted by his son Peter John Marshall, who followed in his father’s career footsteps. You can listen to them here: http://www.petermarshallministries.com/