Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Movie time

Over the last several weeks, I managed to see a couple movies I would like to comment on:

1.) King Kong

A splendidly exciting movie, fun had by all. Of course, the key to understanding this movie is to recognize that Peter Jackson was not interested in filming the "story of King Kong". Rather, he wanted to make an homage to the 1933 film that inspired him in his younger years. Everything in this film reflects and references the 1933 film. Many of the scenes are taken directly from the original film, and the incredible, over-the-top, special effects are a direct nod to the 1933 film as, back then, they were quite dazzling! Knowing beforehand that I wasn't going to get just Jackson's "version of the story", watching this movie was a lot of fun. We already know that it will be over-the-top. My only complaint is one that others have mentioned - there was quite a bit of extraneous special-effects material in many of the island scenes which may not have been necessary. But to trim the film down to "35 minutes", as some have suggested, would most certainly have betrayed Jackson's intention in making this film.

2.) The Exorcism of Emily Rose

As a film based on the (largely sensationalized) events surrounding a young German girl, Anneliese Michel, in the 1970's, I have to say that I rather enjoyed the film. I've seen better movies, but I thought that the story here was presented well and that it really left itself open to sound interpretation.

Most of the film takes place in the courtroom, and Emily's actual ordeal is conveyed through flashbacks and courtroom interviews with various people. The bottom line, which was conveyed in the film, is that the film is about possibility. The film doesn't intend to answer any questions for you. It presents people's stories; it presents all of the rational and scientific explanations; and we are left with the question: Was Emily Rose really possessed? But the careful observer will note that this question is only superficial. Beneath it lies a more irritating question, at least to some, and that is: What is and isn't possible in the world? Can things happen that don't always have a rational explanation? The point of the film is that Emily's story be told, not that it be proved. And that's basically it. We know that the exorcism failed, and at the film's ending, it isn't superficially apparent that good triumphed. But the battle of the spirit extends beyond courtrooms and rationalistic barriers we create with our minds.

I haven't read a lot of reviews that fully see this film the way I saw it. I think that Steven Greydanus's review on is good, but I don't feel that he fully appreciates this point. Christian evangelical screenwriter and director, Scott Derrickson, did a pretty good job, in my opinion.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Sign of the Cross

Fr. Jim Stehly visited with our young adult group tonight and led a very rousing and moving discussion on the Sign of the Cross. It's something we so easily take for granted, but I think most of us would be wise to spend some time reflecting on the awesome mystery made present by this simple gesture, which is a prayer of extraordinary power all in its own, as it recalls the immensity and profundity of God's love for each and every one of us evident in His suffering and death; a love made manifest through that instrument of torture and execution, the Cross -- this is the symbol we trace on our bodies. This is the symbol we carry with us, in our liturgy, and in our lives.

From the earliest generations of Christians, the Cross was appropriated as a sign of triumph and as a powerful reminder. In tracing the development of the practice of the Sign of the Cross in prayer, Fr. Jim referred to one of my favorite early saints, St. Cyril of Jerusalem (3rd century), who in his volume of Catechetical Lectures wrote:
Lecture XIII, 36.

Let us not then be ashamed to confess the Crucified. Be the Cross our seal made with boldness by our fingers on our brow, and on everything; over the bread we eat, and the cups we drink; in our comings in, and goings out; before our sleep, when we lie down and when we rise up; when we are in the way, and when we are still. Great is that preservative; it is without price, for the sake of the poor; without toil, for the sick; since also its grace is from God. It is the Sign of the faithful, and the dread of devils: for He "triumphed over them in it, having made a shew of them openly" (Col. 2:15); for when they see the Cross they are reminded of the Crucified; they are afraid of Him, "who bruised the heads of the dragon" (Psalm 74:13). Despise not the Seal, because of the freeness of the gift; out for this rather honour thy Benefactor.
And so what have we done, we who are here centuries after St. Cyril's generation, with this simple gesture? We have the Cross, as the earliest Christians had it, but we also have inherited a wealth of theological reflection and Christian practice. If only we could remember the inestimable value of the treasure we have, folks. Even with the simplicity of making the Sign of the Cross. The next time we make the Sign of the Cross, whether it be at mass or in private prayer, let us not see in it a meaningless gesture. Rather, grab hold of it and allow God to draw you into His depths and let Him reveal His love for you, the love of a God who loved us so much, He suffered and died to set us free.

In talking with Fr. Jim afterward, I came to find out that he has a presence in some of the comment boxes around St. Blog's; If you're reading this, thank you for visiting with us!

In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti

Monday, January 09, 2006

On Epiphany

From Pope St. Leo the Great, Sermon XXXVI. On the Feast of the Epiphany, VI
I. The Story of the Magi Not Only a Byegone Fact in History, But of Everyday Application to Ourselves.

The day, dearly-beloved, on which Christ the Saviour of the world first appeared to the nations must be venerated by us with holy worship: and to-day those joys must be entertained in our hearts which existed in the breasts of the three magi, when, aroused by the sign and leading of a new star, which they believed to have been promised, they fell down in presence of the King of heaven and earth. For that day has not so passed away that the mighty work, which was then revealed, has passed away with it, and that nothing but the report of the thing has come down to us for faith to receive and memory to celebrate; seeing that, by the oft-repeated gift of God, our times daily enjoy the fruit of what the first age possessed. And therefore, although the narrative which is read to us from the Gospel properly records those days on which the three men, who had neither been taught by the prophets' predictions nor instructed by the testimony of the law, came to acknowledge God from the furthest parts of the East, yet we behold this same thing more clearly and abundantly carried on now in the enlightenment of all those who are called, since the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled when he says, "the Lord has laid bare His holy arm in the sight of all the nations, and all the nations upon earth have seen the salvation which is from the Lord our God;" and again, "and those to whom it has not been announced about Him shall see, and they who have not heard, shall understand." Hence when we see men devoted to worldly wisdom and far from belief in Jesus Christ brought out of the depth of their error and called to an acknowledgment of the true Light, it is undoubtedly the brightness of the Divine grace that is at work: and whatever of new light illumines the darkness of their hearts, comes from the rays of the same star: so that it should both move with wonder, and going before lead to the adoration of God the minds which it visited with its splendour. But if with careful thought we wish to see how their threefold kind of gift is also offered by all who come to Christ with the foot of faith, is not the same offering repeated in the hearts of true believers? For he that acknowledges Christ the King of the universe brings gold from the treasure of his heart: he that believes the Only-begotten of God to have united man's true nature to Himself, offers myrrh; and he that confesses Him in no wise inferior to the Father's majesty, worships Him in a manner with incense.
On 2006...Be Not Afraid

So what to make about the new year 2006? It's about time to make a few changes, and so I'm very excited. I'm excited, naturally, that my fiancée and I are getting married in less than six months. In anticipation of other changes, I just stepped out of my advisory board role for our local young adult ministry here in Santa Barbara. It was quite eye-opening for me, not only in ministering, but also doing it as a young adult myself, and to reflect on our roles in the Church today. I look forward to other opportunities to serve, teach, and learn.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Don't be fooled

Some folks in the Bay Area don't like that people are marching for life this month at the 2nd annual West Coast March for Life in San Francisco. Well, that's putting it mildly. They're planning to disrupt it, through civil disobedience, which apparently may include (as demonstrated last year by more than a few counter protesters) ripping up signs, spitting on marchers, yelling obscenities, and throwing the occasional bag of condoms. I really hope they're peaceful, and I hope that the pro-life marchers also maintain civility -- we're all human, after all. These folks have a right to counter protest, but they should also realize that for us, this type of reaction means that what we believe is the true fight for women is having an effect, and we won't be giving up. The article is pretty silly.
The Walk for Life also shrouds itself in feminist rhetoric. Co-sponsors Feminists for Life are supporting a reform (criminalizing abortion and women's reproductive rights) that will do nothing but harm women.
Funny, the early american feminists contributed to abortion being made illegal to begin with because they believed that abortion oppressed women and their children. And legal abortion has given boyfriends, husbands, employers, and schools justification in discriminating against women who have children. A woman can no longer function in society as a woman unless she denies her fundamental femininity, her fertility, and her motherhood. No, we want social change. We want employers to recognize the fact that women have children and to honor that. We want schools to recognize that some students may be mothers and also would like to get an education without being told that children will ruin their lives. We want accountability for men who refuse to accept the responsibility for something they contributed to. And, fundamentally, we want society to value all human life and not treat it like trash that can be thrown out.
They are walking hand in hand with the elites who enforce discriminate against women in the workplace and push socially destructive and sexist body and sexual standards...
A society that refers to genocide as socially constructive is a society that is destroying itself from within.


Related Posts with Thumbnails