Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Barely an indication of approaching end times,

Barely an indication of approaching end times, however Hollywood has all the earmarks of being rediscovering the Bible as epic source material. The Biblical epic was at one time a film staple: Cecil B. Demille's quiet, King of Kings (1927) – revamped by Nicholas Ray (1961) – Demille's The Ten Commandments (1956) and William Wyler's Ben-Hur (1959); George Stevens' The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) and (for TV) Franco Zeffirelli's Jesus of Nazareth (1977). And after that there was Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, positively an outlier. 

At the same time 10 years after Passion, comes Christopher Spencer's re-alter of a year ago's Roma Downey-Mark Burnett-delivered miniseries, The Bible, in theaters now as Son of God (simply New Testament material this go-round). At the end of this current month will come Darren Aronofsky's Noah, and, in December, Ridley Scott's Exodus, in spite of the fact that expect less Bible and more Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in those two, as befits the movies' sketchy superstars: Russell (Gladiator) Crowe as Noah and Christian (Batman) Bale as Moses. 

As the throwing of Crowe and Bale may demonstrate, a performer needn't be religious to act in a religious film: not every on-screen character is Jim Caviezel or Eduardo Verástegui, two entertainers who consider important their Catholic confidence. 

Also if makers, for example, Mr. Burnett, of TV activities, for example, Survivor, and his wife and associate, Ms. Downey, celebrated for TV's Touched by an Angel, needed to utilize just holy persons really taking shape of their media (or be paragons of piety themselves), they'd deliver nothing. Great Christians cherished The Passion of the Christ regardless of Mel Gibson's curious life decisions, so there should be no hindrance to adoring Son of God. None, that is, with the exception of the film itself. 

The Bible circulated a year ago on The History Channel, and Variety, the authorative manual for the motion picture biz, termed it "immensely famous." Logically, in the event that you enjoyed the miniseries, you may well like this extra large screen rerun. Mixed bag portrays Son of God, as a "blunderously altered gimmick length form of five scenes of The Bible" that is really "a negative money get." 

What's more talking about money, in the event that you were considering taking the children to see Son of God, consider that heading off to the theater will set you once again at any rate $60 (two grown-ups, two youngsters, in addition to popcorn and soft drinks), though the whole Bible miniseries is out on DVD for about a large portion of that. 

No spoiler alarms are vital – we all know the story – however I must ruin the joyful mind-set of any individual who, without screening the film, thinks of it as an unquestionable requirement see, which I accept is primarily the result of the previously stated lack of late Biblical motion pictures. Motion picture cherishing Christians, a dried individuals, yell out for water in the desert, after which, for this situation, comes loose bowels. 

The film is apparently based upon the Gospel of John. He is the first character we meet, hunkering in his hollow of outcast, as he starts portraying the story of Jesus. 

There is yet the faintest, blurring gleam of John's seriously philosophical record. Child of God owes more to Stevens' The Greatest Story Ever Told, despite the fact that it fails to offer that film's artistic degree and story power. Child of God is awfully compelled to be an epic. A great part of the motion picture comprises of tight shots – a system intended to press the most out of The Bible's funding. 

We see Jesus first as he rises up out of fasting in the desert and heads straight to the Sea of Galilee, where Simon bar Jonah, stowing his nets in disappointment, is surrendering for the day. Jesus calls to him: 


Simon finds. He appears to perceive that name, despite the fact that Jesus did not really call him "Diminish" until a few years after their initially meeting. Each movie producer "telescopes" keeping in mind the end goal to get crowds rapidly into a story, yet an incredible numerous segues in Son of God are ambiguous and shaking. It's very nearly as though the film is gone for the individuals who nod off in chapel, or who took in the Gospel at the motion pictures. Better to nod off at Son of God and give careful consideration in chapel. The substantial lidded Diogo Morgado, who plays Jesus, positively appears to be nearly napping off amid a significant part of the film. 

Other than Peter and John, we see Matthew and see and hear Thomas (Matthew Gravelle in the film's just fascinating execution) and, obviously, Judas, yet the other seven Apostles appear to be barely there – with the exception of Mary Magdalene (Amber Rose Revah), who is in about the greater part of the scenes including the Twelve. In one scene in which the band of siblings sets off to Jerusalem – among the few wide shots in the film and the main of sufficient length to permit a body check – she's there. Jesus and the Twelve, according to my observation. Also Mary's the twelfth! 

It's hazy if this demonstrates the New Age sensibility caught by numerous commentators of The Bible miniseries, albeit in this respect it may be important that the once-separated Mr. Burnett and the twice-separated Ms. Downey were hitched in 2007 (tabloid feature: "Survivor Creator Weds Canceled Angel") by Ms. 

Ms. Downey-Orser-Anspaugh-Burnett likewise plays the more established Blessed Virgin. 

Messrs. Aronofsky and Scott will utilize the best experts of machine produced symbolism (CGI) for surges and separating waters and such, yet obviously the financial backing for Noah is $130,000,000 and for Exodus is, in Scott's words, "f -ing colossal." The CGI in Son of God looks as though it may have been carried out by an astute center school kid with cash left unspent from a week ago's remittance. 

Pressing a miniseries and a film out of simply $22,000,000 is extremely proficient, simply not exceptio

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Anti-Catholicism Redux

Lund links the attitude underlying 21st-century, religious-freedom jurisprudence with the both popular and legal anti-Catholic prejudice that pervaded the United States in the 19th-century—yet he does so without examining any recent case brought by a Catholic. Nevertheless, in the four cases Lund examines, the plaintiffs’ status as members of a religious minority—or an a-religious one—and their struggle for legal recognition bridge this apparent divide.  In other words, like 19th-century Catholics, all of the cases involve plaintiffs in a religious minority seeking recognition of their beliefs and practices as legal rights under the Free Exercise and Establishment clauses.  

Thus, Lund connects a present-day American Wiccan, Muslim, Evangelical Protestant, and Atheist to Catholics in America one-hundred-fifty-years ago.  More poignantly, in each contemporary case the plaintiff lost—outcomes that erode the idealistic notion that American legal and popular tolerance of minority religions expands with time.

For a description of each of the four cases Lund examines—and their significance—please follow the jump.Lund reviews Locke v. Davey, 540 U.S. 712 (2004) (balancing Free-Exercise and Establishment considerations to hold that retracting a state scholarship because of a student’s decision to use the funds to pursue ministry in an evangelical denomination does not violate the First Amendment); Elk Grove Unified Sch. Dist. v. Newdow, 542 U.S. 1 (2004) (rejecting an atheist father’s claim that public-school recitation of “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance violated his daughter’s First Amendment rights on an obscure federal standing basis—non-interference with states’ domestic-relations laws); Simpson v. Chesterfield County Bd. of Superv’s, 404 F.3d 276 (4th Cir. 2005) (holding that a municipality can decline a Wiccan’s request to be among those opening its governing meetings with prayers because the city was sufficiently non-sectarian in its criteria for choosing who would make such a prayer and undue interference with such decisions would violate principles of federalism); and Webb v. Philadelphia, 562 F.3d 256 (3d Cir. 2009) (denying, as unpreserved, a Muslim, female police officer’s claim that a prohibition against wearing a discrete head scarf at work violated her Free Exercise rights).

Ultimately, Lund demonstrates that these present-day decisions—unfavorable as they are toward believers not adhering to dominant religious modes—put such persons in a more vulnerable, less legally insulated position than their more conventionally religious counterparts.

Thursday, 2 August 2012


Catholicism is a broad term for the body of the Catholic faith, its theologies and doctrines, its liturgical, ethical, spiritual, and behavioral characteristics, as well as a religious people as a whole.

For many the term usually refers to Christians and churches, western and eastern, in full communion with the Holy See, known alternatively as the Catholic Church or as the Roman Catholic Church. However, many others use the term to refer to other churches with historical continuity from the first millennium.

In the sense of indicating historical continuity of faith and practice, the term "catholicism" is at times employed to mark a contrast to Protestantism, which tends to look solely to the Bible as interpreted on the principles of the 16th-century Protestant Reformation as its ultimate standard. It was thus used by the Oxford Movement.

According to Richard McBrien, Catholicism is distinguished from other forms of Christianity in its particular understanding and commitment to tradition, the sacraments, the mediation between God, communion, and the See of Rome. According to Orthodox leaders like Bishop Kallistos Ware, the Orthodox Church has these things as well, though the primacy of the See of Rome is only honorific, showing non-jurisdictional respect for the Bishop of Rome as the "first among equals" and "Patriarch of the West". Catholicism, according to McBrien's paradigm, includes a monastic life, religious institutes, a religious appreciation of the arts, a communal understanding of sin and redemption, and missionary activity.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Evangelical Catholicism Redux

John Allen, senior correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter, has a very interesting article on evangelical Catholicism, which you can link to in the title above. He points out that the last two popes, along with many of the bishops they have appointed, are evangelical in outlook. "Beginning with the election of Pope John Paul II in 1978, Catholicism has become a steadily more evangelical church -- uncompromising and unabashedly itself. Evangelical Catholicism today dominates the church’s leadership class, and it feeds on the energy of a strong grass-roots minority."

Back in April Sherry posted on the "Evangelical nature of Catholicism" [] and that post generated many, many comments, some of which denied the possibility of using the word "evangelical," and implying that to use it was to separate Christ from the Church, or "protestantize" Catholicism. What Sherry was arguing was that the mission of the Church is both the worship of God and the spreading of the Gospel. Unfortunately, I believe most Catholics have focused almost exclusively on the first and forgotten the second since the Council.

Allen goes on to write, "The evangelical impulse isn’t exactly “conservative,” because there’s little cultural Catholicism these days left to conserve. Instead, it’s a way of pitching classical Catholic faith and practice in the context of pluralism, making it modern and traditional all at once.

David Bebbington, a leading specialist on Protestant evangelicalism, defines that movement in terms of four commitments: the Bible alone as the touchstone of faith, Christ’s death on the cross as atonement for sin, personal acceptance of Jesus as opposed to salvation through externals such as sacraments, and strong missionary energies premised on the idea that salvation comes only from Christ. Clearly, some of these commitments mark areas of disagreement with Catholics rather than convergence.

Yet if these points are restated in terms of their broad underlying concerns, the evangelical agenda Bebbington describes pivots on three major issues: authority, the centrality of key doctrines, and Christian exclusivity. If so, there’s little doubt that Catholicism under John Paul II and Benedict XVI has become ever more boldly evangelical."

Allen's article is interesting, but he may be failing to appreciate, I believe, a characteristic of a truly evangelical Catholicism. While, as Bebbington points out, Protestant Evangelicals may believe in "personal acceptance of Jesus as opposed to salvation through externals such as sacraments," that is not the case for Catholics. The evangelical thrust he's observing in the emphasis on authority, doctrine and the uniqueness of Jesus' sacrifice for our redemption within the Church also includes, I believe, a powerful commitment to the person of Jesus and a lived relationship with him.

For example, Allen mentions Pope Benedict XVI's recent book "Jesus of Nazareth" as coming from a concern for traditional Christology. That may be the case, but the book also flows from the Pope's reflection on the Scriptures and his relationship with his Lord. It is a product of prayer, as well as intellectual study.

Some may look upon Allen's description of evangelical elements in Catholicism as simply the triumph of a conservative agenda within the Church - and among those some will be dismayed, while others will be delighted. But I believe a true evangelical Catholicism - one which transcends the conservative or liberal label - is one which embraces the personal relationship with Jesus AND the sacraments. It embraces the authority of Christ over one's life, and is grateful for the guidance of Christ acting through the Church's magisterium. It is grateful for the offer of love and salvation that is given uniquely in Christ, and is willing to share that belief joyfully, patiently, and humbly with others - and is willing to incarnate that love as an instrument of Jesus, the Lord.

Pope Benedict XVI said in his first homily as Pope, "There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know him and to speak to others of our friendship with him." This is the heart of a truly Catholic faith. It is a heart surprised by an unmerited love, and desirous to share that love with others. It is a love which claims an authority over the beloved, who will accept no substitute for the Lover. It is evangelical - "Good News."