First, it has been reported (coincidentally, by the same “Dallas Area Catholics” blog I cited yesterday) that controversial traditionalist (more on that in a moment) Fisher More College will be officially closing in May. They were controversial, as you may know, for issues ranging from leaning towards “radical” traditionalism to financial mismanagement to teaching geocentrism.
On a side note, the use of the term “radical traditionalist” or “RadTrad” has come to be the subject of controversy recently, and many across the board have called for the cessation of its usage due to lack of clarity and its having become something of an epithet. Fair enough, and when it comes to geocentrism, that steps way out of the range of even “Radical Traditionalism” into “just plain nuts.” It has become a pet cause of Robert Sungenis, formerly a mainstream Catholic apologist, turned schismatic trad., turned “in union with Rome” but still a bit off his rocker. Sungenis has produced a “documentary” called The Principle, trying to promote geocentrism, and has tapped none other than Kate Mulgrew to narrate it.
The headline of the article posted about it on Monday and linked above reads, “‘Star Trek’ actress lends her gravitas to film promoting idea that sun revolves around Earth.”
I have several thoughts on this subject:
1) Going with the gut reaction that she somehow supports the project, it makes me kind of curious. Obviously, she’s one of Hollywood’s most openly Catholic actresses (one of the reasons she gets few roles). Like ex-Catholic Patricia Heaton, Mulgrew is very active in Feminists for Life and a few years ago took a break from acting to try and help her husband get elected governor of Ohio as a pro-life Democrat. From what I can tell, while, unlike Heaton, Mulgrew is economically liberal, and, like Heaton, liberal on non life-related moral issues. So it kind of surprises me that, as a more “progressive” Catholic politically, she would align herself with a far right, anti-Semitist on a geocentrism project. On the other hand, 10 years ago when he was popular on the interview circuit, Mel Gibson often said that, other than abortion his political views were generally more Left Wing, so maybe something similar is at work *if* she sees it as anything more than a paycheck.
2) OTOH, she’s not the first Trek star to lend her “gravitas” to a pseudo-science documentary (Leonard Nimoy and Jonathan Frakes come to mind).
3) However, what really strikes me is how people are taking issue with the use of the term “gravitas,” saying that she lacks “gravitas” because she isn’t a “real scientist.”
According to dictionary.com, “gravitas” means “seriousness or sobriety, as of conduct or speech.” It has nothing to do with academic credentials and everything to do with style.
Few “real scientists” have “gravitas.” It’s why St. Augustine in On Christian Doctrine said we need rhetoric and logic together. Another comment I saw was that she lacks gravitas because she started out in soaps. However again, good soap actors and actresses have lots of gravitas. One of the reasons Joan Collins quit her much publicized stint as Alexandra Spaulding on Guiding Light (and few actresses in TV history have had the “gravitas” of the late Beverlee McKinsey, for whom the role was created) was, by her own admission, she didn’t realize the acting ability daytime actually requires: learning and performing a new script every day, without the teleprompters everyone thinks they use(d).