In the new film “The Way,” Martin Sheen stars as a father who travels to Europe to pick up the body of his son, who died in an accident while on a pilgrimage to the shrine at Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Grief-stricken, the father, a non-practicing Catholic, decides to undertake the pilgrimage himself, scattering his son’s ashes along the journey. And while he’s trekking, the man comes to appreciate bigger, spiritual issues.

In other words “The Way,” opening Friday, is Christian in the best sense of the term. But “there’s no in-your-face . . . presentation of the Gospel,” says Mark Moring, who writes about film for Christianity Today. “It’s show, don’t tell. It shows a man who is honest with his struggles, and who finds redemption on his journey.”

A nuanced look at Christian spirituality, as in “The Way,” seems to be in vogue these days. Contemporary films such as “Higher Ground” (a woman struggles to keep her faith in a religious community; still in some area theaters), “Courageous” (police officers turn to religion to deal with the pressures of their job; opened last week here) and even “Machine Gun Preacher” (a former dope addict accepts Christ and helps Sudanese refugees; opened last week) are, unlike in the past, dealing with issues of faith in new and interesting ways.

These movies are “a reflection of our times; it’s a scary period, people are looking for meaning in spirituality,” said Joe Pichirallo, a film producer and chair of the undergraduate film department at New York University. “Everybody’s struggling with how to find meaning in life in this postmodern era, especially when existence is so glum.”

Peter E. Dans, author of “Christians In the Movies,” added that these films “are an attempt to see how we can live this life, which is not often easy, and faith often gets us through.”

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