Study Guide

Sling Blade Religion

Religion

If you were in a certain mood, you could use the Bible to argue against public places of worship. Matthew 6:6 says, "But when you pray, go into your inner room, shut your door, and pray to your Father, who is unseen. And your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."

In other words, do your praying in private.

In Sling Blade, Karl does just that—he's pretty much the opposite of the televangelist type. Raised on the Bible, Karl has taken his years in solitude to try and figure out what religion truly means to him. Sling Blade isn't a film with an overt religious message, but religion is important to Karl: his view of the Bible and of his Christian faith informs all of his actions. Still waters run deep, and these waters are holy ones.

Questions About Religion

  1. Karl accuses his father of telling him stories that weren't in the Bible. What stories do you think these were?
  2. Why does Karl want to be baptized?
  3. How does Karl rationalize murder, given the Bible's commandment to not kill?
  4. In what ways does Karl deviate from the scripture and add his own interpretation to it?

Chew on This

Karl's father used the Bible—or his own interpretation of it—to manipulate his family. He may fill his house with religious paraphernalia, but does not adhere to the true spirit of his religion.

By interpreting the Bible on his own terms, Karl becomes a Jesus figure of sorts—a person who thinks he is sacrificing himself for the good of someone else, whether that person asks for it or not.

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