Blog Template Theology of the Body: Catholic Culture Pops

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Catholic Culture Pops

Some good things going lately-

1. I was pleasantly surprised by the pro-Church perspective in the new film "Doubt," which stars Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Meryl Streep. The directors showcase the tenderness and truth in the life of the Church's families and religious communities while condemning the bad guys, all without sacharine cynicism. Good job, amazingly.

2. Has anyone enjoyed the gorgeous and explicitly Christian lyrics of Enya's newest CD, Winter Came? If you have, you've heard her welcome Emmanuel and praise "the newborn king." We knew all along that Enya was raised as a Catholic who continues to sing in her parish choir, and that her sister is an artist who primarily sings Christian music and was featured at a recent World Youth Day. But the new album, which is accompanied by Enya's glowing references to her life in the Church in various public interviews, may bespeak the kind of interior conversion which we applauded in Anne Rice a few years ago.

3. The World Youth Alliance recently feted the gorgeous and Christ-honoring pro-life and pro-family series by photographer Ed Grazda at its headquarters in New York. The series, entitled "Through American Eyes: Religion and Society in Oman," was celebrated with H.E. Ambassador Fuad Mubarak Al-Hinai, and our faithful Catholic friend Dr. Habib Malik, son of the same Malik who drafted the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Photos of the event are viewable here.

4. I recently viewed the intriguing film Frost/Nixon with my parents, and was really provoked by the off-hand connections which the directors draw between Nixon's failures and his incipient Quaker anti-establishmentarianism. Given the upsurge which Quaker political theology has enjoyed in the past few decades, the following article by Chuck Fager, "Richard Nixon and the Quakers," is fascinating.

5. My favorite: the inventor of the Pill recently condemned his own creation.

6. Finally, as we approach this year's Oscars, our contributor NCCatholic offers an incisive perspective on 2008's most vivid character, The Dark Knight's Joker:

"Outside of a virtuoso film acting performance, what was it that had me so consumed with this character as opposed to any other great movie performance? It hit me one day over a rather monotonous portion of assisting in a long operation. He was the clearest portrayal of Satan I had seen on film.

This man was a master manipulator who could be anything he needed to be to appeal to any audience. Seeing a void in the loyalty of hungry dogs, he eliminated his fellow bank robbers simply by offering each a way at a bigger slice of the pie. The next moment he was the cool business man making an appeal to the mob to eliminate their nemesis. To threaten the city, a cackling maniacal amateur videographer. To facilitate his escape from the police station, he became an apologetically taunting torturer, and the devious surgical psychotherapist. For the disfigured and heart hardened district attorney, he was the subtle rationalists. In each case, he would inject the right amount of truth into his lies to allow him to tug at people’s fears and vices to accomplish his plans. As the mob learned, when their mountain of money went up in smoke at the hands of “a better class of criminal,” making a deal with him meant ending up dead or in servitude, I can imagine those who truly deal with the devil also get a sniff of their goals, only to see them go up in smoke along with their souls.

Despite describing himself as simply "a dog chasing cars," he had plans laid out in advance for any eventuality. How many days in advance did he plant the cell phone bomb in the schizophrenic’s stomach just in case he needed to get out of the police station. How far ahead did build bombs and buy off the crooked cops to kidnap Dent and Rachel just in case the dump truck and rocket propelled grenades failed to kill the DA. As with Satan, the goal of his plans was nothing but chaos and human destruction. He didn’t just want to kill people, he wanted to watch ordinary people fall into murder whether it be the fallen DA, the passengers on the ferry, or the citizens out to kill the accountant. Through all of this, he was absolutely fearless, with a seeming omnipotence facilitated by the corruption of those around him which made him seam invincible. His plans were only foiled by a few who refused to be corrupted in the face of terrible loss and the guilty who would accept death rather than adding to their guilt.

... And despite his disfigurement, he was strangely appealing. I can envision Satan being at once twisted and beautiful and all the while powerfully attractive. I can imagine Satan emerging out of hell at the crucifixion much the way the Joker slithered from the police car window as a snake leaving its leathery shell."

Coments are open for your own additions and suggestions of recent Catholic culture pops...