Wednesday, April 22, 2009

It's just a movie, people!!!!

Oh, for crying out loud.

Why does it seem like every time I turn around somebody is unreasonably insulted/affronted/furious over something or other. Usually, the things that people pick to have these hilariously out-of-proportion reactions to are not meant to offend or upset, which naturally makes them the perfect targets for the Umbrage Brigade.

I like that title. Yes, I am going to call it that from now on, and copyright it too. The Umbrage Brigade strikes again.

And, I'm not slamming religion (that would take another type of post on a different sort of blog), but why does it seem like the Catholics have their own chapter, chartered, stamped, and with t-shirts and funny hats?

In this recent post on the Daily News, Archbishop Timothy Dolan talks about several things that made me wince and sigh, things like Freedom of Choice and a shorter statute of limitations on victims of rape and abuse by the clergy. I have heard these views expressed before and I have hung my head a bit that I used to count myself amoung the ranks of the religion addressing them. Then, he brought up the coming movie, Angels and Demons.

The film "Angels & Demons," the prequel to "The Da Vinci Code," opens May 15. Once again, the tag team of Dan Brown and Ron Howard have collaborated in smearing the Catholic Church with fabulously bogus tales. And once again, the message conveyed to the audience is invidious: the Catholic Church, which did more to keep the universities open and flourishing during the Middle Ages than any other institution, is painted as anti-reason.

Okay, Your Emminence. Let's not get into a back-patting session yet; the Church was also busily burning people at the stake and selling tickets into heaven during the Middle Ages. So Ron Howard, trying to be more reasonable than the treatment he is getting, posted this yesterday on the Huffington Post:

Had Mr. Donohue and his allies waited to see Angels & Demons before criticizing it, they would have seen references to struggles within the Church between faith and science, but they would also have seen clear signs of support for the pursuit of science at the highest levels of the Vatican. Indeed, one of the first scenes of the movie depicts a scientist at the high-tech CERN laboratory...and he is a priest. . .

. . .Even the current "faith vs. science" debate over embryonic stem cells is briefly depicted in Angels & Demons in a balanced way.

But since Mr. Donohue has, in effect, smeared me by claiming I am smearing his Church, I want him to know this: I have respect for Catholics and their Church, and know they accomplish many good works throughout the world. And I believe Angels & Demons treats the Church with respect -- even a degree of reverence -- for its traditions and beliefs.

This Archbishop is actually offering to send you a booklet, for $5, that explains why Angels and Demons is so evil. And he hasn't even seen it. No one has; it hasn't come out yet! I'll bet he hasn't read the book either, just had it breathlessly described to him by some underling who left out the fact that it was a work of fiction.

Now, I have read Angels and Demons, and I'll confess I didn't like it all that much, but not because it made my ex-Catholic blood boil. I just didn't think it was a particularly smart thriller; I figured out who was really behind the killings less than halfway through the book, and I hate feeling like I'm smarter than the main characters. It is so clearly fictitious that I can't believe anyone would buy into it! It is just a book, and the movie is just a movie.

Here's the secret which is really at the heart of the protests the Catholic Church raises at such things: questioning doctrine and church history is not allowed. Faith must be blind. Are they so lacking in confidence that they think a fictional movie, which does not paint the church as evil, by the way, will really shake people's faith?

Stop telling the faithful what to think. Instead, show a little faith in them, and let them think for themselves.


Kimba said...

I hate to point out that you, like so many others, are blanket statementing the Catholic church. Hypocrisy, my friend! It is the doctrine of ALL religions to live with faith, not just the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church does allow the questioning of church history...that's a big part of what cathecism for teens & adults is all about.

As for Archbisop Dolan, it's pretty likely has HAS read the book. I wouldn't doubt if he's even already seen a preview of the movie. He is very well read, well informed, and connected to the people, actually. And it is actually one of the JOBS of the Church to give direction on morality to the people. It goes back to the lessons to "avoid the near occasion of sin".

Is it evil? No. Is it annoying & probaby a bad movie/book? Hell, yes!

Just my 2cents.

Ginger said...

No, in all likelihood, he hasn't seen a preview of the film; no one has. Even the director says that. This is the same thing they did with the Da Vinci Code, a movie I did not like because I didn't think it was good film, not because I felt it was attacking anybody, which it wasn't. I take exception with the Catholic church telling people a LOT of things, like condoms cause a rise in AIDS, a woman's body doesn't belong to her, and children who get raped by priests had better say something quick or lose the chance forever, and have the whole thing covered up by the diocese. Why waste time attacking a piece of fiction that DOESN'T, by the way, portray the Catholic Church as evil? It turns out, in the resolution of the book, that the perpetrator was one crazy man who was trying to prove something that the church is against; I think the church ends up coming out pretty well by the end. If Dolan had read the book or seen the film, he wouldn't have started this attack.
I also feel that these "blanket statements", as you call them, are completely true, and can be backed up by any number of examples which I am happy to provide.
I take issue not with faith, but with blind faith. I take issue not with religion, but with a religion that tells you that you are going to hell if you're gay or if you use birth control or if you pray to Allah or Buddha.

Kimba said...

You are a bit incorrect to say the religion teaches that. In truth, those are statements made my the current Pope. Is he the head of the Church? Yes. Is he infallible? Absolutely not! In fact, you'll find that over the previous Pope's tenure gays where welcomed openly in the Catholic church, birth control was not a damnation and he has a well known friendship with many other religions. The Church is always changing, not always good, not always bad. That is why I dislike blanket statements.

Ginger said...

No, the pope certainly isn't infallible, but he is believed to be infallible by the faithful, at least that's what I was taught growing up, and what a lot of Catholics I know believe. I respected John Paul II very much, and when he died I watched with sadness and resignation as the church elected the man who holds the office now, though I was not surprised; there had been rumblings that John Paul was too soft on a lot of issues for years before his death.

When the head of your church says things like the statements I highlighted, it does in fact reflect on the entire religion, and there are scores of people that follow his words to the letter, no matter what they are. I have a sister who blindly follows everything the church tells her, because she feels that is her duty as a Catholic. So, you say I'm making blanket statements, but I'm commenting on what I see predominantly coming from the people that lead and shape that faith. I feel more than qualified to make statements about the Catholic church, having gone to Catholic school for twelve years, and being so devout in my youth that I wanted to become a nun. We prayed the rosary every day, went to church every Sunday and feast day, and never ate meat on Fridays. Leaving that faith was not a decision I took lightly, and I had a lot of reasons to do so, which I studied and researched and they added up to something I no longer wanted to be called part of.
If all Catholics were more like you, willing to question and discuss differences rationally, we wouldn't have incindiary situations like this fuss over Angels and Demons.
I think we need to close this issue now, we've both said our piece, and we'll just agree to disagree on this topic.