Daily Archives: December 29, 2009

NCRegister / Faith and Family “Top Pro-Catholic Movies”

Got this link from a Facebook Friend.

The Register and Faith and Family magazine have published a list of the “Top 100 Pro-Catholic Movies,” based upon a reader poll.   They’re not necessarily movies with Catholic themes (though most are) but films that present Catholics, or Catholic ideals, in a positive way.  Similar concept was a list in the early 90s of “pro-Catholic” TV shows that offered such diverse entries as Who’s the Boss and Homicide: Life on the Streets (both great shows). 

Obviously, The Passion of the Christ is #1, but, given the other entries on the list, Sound of Music is a rather surprising #2.   I’d sooner list Phantom of the Opera before Sound of Music.  No Narnia films (any of the three versions) or Tolkein films are on the list, but some other great Catholic books have made it, including at least one Chesterton: 1954’s The Detective (aka Father Brown), the film that inspired Sir Alec Guinness’s conversion is way down at #96.

The person I got the list from noted the absence of The Exorcism of Emily Rose, a fantastic film which depicts not just the sensationalism of possession and exorcism but (unlike The Exorcist) the power of prayer and the more “ordinary” experiences of “extraordinary” demonic manifestation we all experience from time to time, whether we realize it or not (the various experiences of the lawyer).  Another good film based on exorcism is Possessed, a Showtime TV movie based more directly upon the source material of The ExorcistThe Exorcist is based loosely on a book based loosely on a real-life case. Possessed is based more directly on the book and fairly accurate to the real life case.  The advantage of Possessed is that it thoroughly depicts the process Fr. Amorth talks about, where people go to the secular “experts” first, then through various false religions, and only Catholic priests are capable of driving away the demon.  The film really depics the inadequacy of the Lutheran minister.

The excellent 1988 version of Don Bosco makes the list, and contains one of my all-time favorite quotations.  Breaking up a brawl at the local brothel that has attracted the attention of his students, Don Bosco cries out, “You people can drown in your own sins if you want to, but if a single one of my boys is lost due to your bad example, not one of you can be saved!”

Two versions of Therese make the list, as well as just about every Gospel-based movie.  I could think of several excellent Bible based films that aren’t on the list.  Prince of Egypt and One Night with the King are good examples (but I wonder how many people realized that the latter was a Biblical movie–its promotion and packaging were rather provocative, and Mary kind of reacted in shock when I rented it, but it’s a really good depiction of the story of Esther).  Saint Ralph didn’t make the cut, either.

The rather lame 1984 TV movie Pope John Paul II, which we recently watched, makes the cut, even though it’s more like “The people who knew JPII,” but the 2005 film with Jon Voight (which I haven’t seen, but the film inspired Voight’s re-commitment to his Catholic faith) is not.

As much as I love VeggieTales, I’d think there are a lot more overtly Catholic films that could make #29 than Jonah

1981 Brideshead Revisit: there; remake, not.  Neither version of End of the Affair makes the cut.

2003’s The Gospel of John is fairly textually accurate but with some clear Protestant biases and a rather poor depiction of Jesus.  The Miracle Maker, by contrast, is a fantastic animated depiction of the Gospel and partially produced by Catholics.

I only remember seeing 38 of the films (not counting a few that I saw when I was a kid but don’t remember well enough to comment), and strongly agree with 49 of the entries (based upon what I know about them second hand).

Disagree with a few, and 11 of the films, if they should be on the list at all, should be a lot lower, while I think 5 of them should be a lot higher.  And, of course, the list is talking about positive portrayal of Catholics or Catholic ideas, so movies like The Fisher King which might make the cut for “Catholic themes” can’t apply here (as with the aforementioned Lewis or Tolkein based films).

I will say, though, that some of my selections are a lot better.  I mean, the devil basically wins in The Exorcist, so that’s hardly a positive portrayal.  Maria leaves the uptight convent to get married in Sound of Music, and there isn’t much explicitly Catholic about the rest of it.

It’s a Wonderful Life has a great theme (but that doesn’t count, does it?) and a good depiction of intercessory prayer (of both Christians on earth and saints in Heaven), but introduces the New Age version of angels that we see later in Highway to Heaven and Touched by an Angel. Sister Act is “positive” if “Catholics are old fuddy-duddies who need to get with the times and trash the liturgy to win converts” constitutes “positive.”  The aforementioned 1984 JPII flick is actually rather pessimistic, focusing on skeptics and troubled friends.

The Rookie, One Man’s Hero and We Were Soldiers are all good, but Catholicism of the characters is mostly superficial and could be replaced with devout Islam faith or Jewish faith or Evangelical faith.  And, come on, Moonstruck?????  A film about fornication and vow-breaking?  If “superficial depiction” is the rule here, and not themes, Moonstruck is no better than any film where the confessional is played for comic relief.

I’ve never seen Dead Man Walking but the real Sr. Helen Prejean is slightly to the right of Joan Chittister, and the real Susan Sarandon is mildly to the left. .  . .


Great bumper sticker quote

“Somewhere in Kenya, a village is missing its idiot.”

Heard about this one in a story about a Connecticut firefighter who was told he couldn’t park his car in the firehouse because of his anti-Obama bumper stickers

Considering how many “Impeach Bush” and “Somewhere in Texas a Village is Missing its Idiot” and worse stickers I’ve seen on the cars –and office doors–of public college faculty in the past several years, seems a bit of a contradiction.

In any case while the joke is an old on it is initial punchline, it obviously has the double whammy of our President’s constitutional ineligibility.

“What about the women who have abortions?”

Pro-abortionists have a particular question they like to throw out at pro-lifers.  Like the Pharisees trying to trip up Jesus, they think this question particularly clever and creates an impossible dilemma.

My recent interlocutor, the pro-abortion terrorist and demonaic who goes by “Operation Counterstrike”, prides itself on its website for supposedly “confounding” pro-lifer bloggers with this question.  Although I answered the question on its blog, and the direct question never came up here in our lengthy exchange, this person (whom I strongly suspect has gender identity issues, given that its rhetoric sounds like NOW but seems to avoid the personal identification with abortion that radical feminists have) tried to say that I put its comments under moderation because of my inability to confront that question.

No, I put its comments under moderation because a) the arguments were getting circular and unprogressive and b) the person insisted on using language that was both rude and crude, as well as personally attacking my friends. This individual needs to learn about a modicum of civil discourse.

Anyway, the question goes like this:

“If abortion is made illegal, and you consider abortion to be murder, what should happen to the women who have abortions?”

They see this is an an “aha!” question, exposing us for either being hypocrites or for “not really thinking abortion is murder.”

The paradox, they think, goes this way:

1.  If you think they should be punished as murderers, they’ll call you “unreasonable.”

2.  If you say they shouldn’t, they say, “Then you don’t really think abortion is murder.”

Of course, these are the kinds of people, especially the CounterStrike person, who think that people like Scott Roeder, Paul Hill and John Salvi are the only consistent anti-abortionists.  According to their logic, a) if you believe abortion is murder, then b) the only way to punish a murderer is to c) kill him/her in an act of vigilantism.  Otherwise, you’re a liar and/or hypocrite in that a) you don’t “really” believe abortion is “murder” or b) you’re not “really” pro-life.

Of course, they set up the false dichotomy in that, case they set up the false dichotomy in this one, too.

Yes, the question does pose a paradox for certain kinds of Republicans and conservatives, but it shouldn’t pose a paradox for a Christian, or certainly any person with an understanding of psychology or legal responsibility.

There is a difference between the objective nature of an act and the subjective culpability of the actor.  When a teenaged girl has an abortion, is she really culpable?  Does she know abortion is murder?  Does she know the unborn child is a person?  (Not if the pro-aborts have anything to say about it; they do everything in their power to fight informed consent, waiting periods and sonogram laws–they know most women would reject abortion if shown this information).  Are they really making the “free choice” that pro-aborts allege?  Or are they pressured by family, society, money, etc.?  What is their mental state?

Is a girl who has an abortion fully morally culpable for what she does? 

Now, this is quite different from, say, some upper middle class white woman who gets an abortion to avoid the stretch marks or pursue her career or something.

Interestingly, Patrick Madrid has been involved in a parallel exchange from the other end, on his Facebook page, radio show and blog, in which a pro-life advocate apparently took a fairly hardline stance with some women who had repented of past abortions, insisting they were still “murderers”.

Of course, objectively, the woman who has an abortion is a “murderer,” but that leads to two issues: 1) her aforementioned culpability and b) her intention of repeating the crime.

A person who copies and pastes a bunch of paragraphs out of Wikipedia and Cliff’s Notes is, objectively, a plagiarist.  However, a good teacher knows how to distinguish unintentional acts of plagiarism from intentional academic theft.  Sometimes, especially in this example, the student just doesn’t know how to cite or how to write a proper research paper, and thinks the copied and pasted paragraphs constitute “research.” 

So, let’s say the teacher decides to give the student a second chance, or that a student who was expelled from one institution for plagiarism gets admitted to another.  In either case, our plagiarist has learned his or her lesson.  He or she remains a plagiarist, but the question is: will he or she *continue* to commit plagiarism?

Inspector Javert chases Jean Valjean for years because he thinks that one act of theft should mark a man for life.

Christians technically believe in repentance and forgiveness.  The pro-life movement is an embodiment of this.  Many of our leaders have themselves been directly involved in abortion in the worst ways: Norma McCorvey, Sandra Cano, Bernard Nathanson, John Bruchalski and so many others have come to the pro-life cause after repenting of their involvement in abortion, whether it was their own abortions, abortion practices, or political/legal work.

Yes, we want to see abortion illegal so that it is stigmatized, and society can heal from the rift in Natural Law caused by legalized abortion.  Yes, we want to save babies’ lives.  Yes, those who are consciously and deliberately involved in abortion–and unrepentant–should be punished for it. 

Those who lack full moral responsibility, however, should be given clemency and understanding.  Those who have repented and turned over a new leaf should be given the benefit of the doubt.  They remain, objectively, murderers, but the real question is whether they will murder again.

There is no better illustration of this than a conundrum presented regarding George W. Bush when he was still Governor of Texas, a situation that puzzled liberals to no end.  It was the case where a woman on death row in Texas had converted to Christianity, repented of her crimes and showed a complete remorse.  Pro-life Christians argued that she should not be subject to the death penalty, and even that she should be released.

“Our God is the God of second chances.”

That’s what Christianity is all about: repentance of sins:

Make the St. Bridget Prayers part of your New Year’s Resolutions

Many copies of the Fifteen Prayers of St. Bridget of Sweden are circulated with a set of “Fantastic Promises.”  Now, the promises are rather specific to the point of superstition, and their provenance is uncertain.  Therefore, the Church has forbidden their publication (though certain prayer books and websites do publish their content).  The devotions themselves are highly approved and recommended.

The gist of the promises, however, is not much different than what one hears in the Scapular promises, Divine Mercy, or various promises made in conjunction with the Rosary: namely, that devout and consistent saying of these prayers will result in great graces.  Also, of course, the prayers are meditations on the Passion, and any reflection on the Bible, the Gospel in particular, and the Passion most specifically, carries great graces.

The promises encourage that the prayers be said every day for a year, and that such devotion will be repaid with fantastic graces, including the conversions of family members, release of relatives’ souls from Purgatory, etc.

I have never successfully said the prayers every day for a year, but I have gone for stretches of months, and always with obvious results–both positive results and demonic attacks.

One of the reasons I recorded Hide Me In Your Wounds was to facilitate my own practice of this powerful devotion.  I have Hide Me In Your Wounds on both our cell phones, two computers (including the file server on our home network, so I can listen to it on any of them), and in both cars.  Since  I completed the recordings, I’ve prayed the St. Bridget devotions fairly regularly. 

This past few months have seen many prayers answered, many signs of healing and progress for old wounds in both sides of our families.  I am eager to see what greater blessings await as I continue in my practice of this devotion.

New Year’s Day makes a great starting point for trying to make it a year.

Why not download a copy of Hide Me In Your Wounds today?

Catholic Geek Slogans #5

“Make it so!”