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NEW YEAR – NEW FILM – NEW ADVENTURE WITH STEVE RAY! And ready for the “BIG SCREEN” in Your Parish in 2015!
Have you been following the Footprints of God from Ignatius Press and Steve Ray?
If you have, you already know there is nothing else like these fast-paced, entertaining, educational documentaries on our salvation history. If you haven’t, you’re in for a real treat!
These eight films combine the elements of a biography, travel documentary, Bible study and apologetics course all rolled into a remarkable, family friendly adventure! Each one is a 90-minute, stand-alone masterpiece taking the viewer to another time and place. With ABRAHAM you will travel with Steve back 4,000 years to Iraq, Turkey, Palestinian Territories and Israel. Have you ever seen a ziggurat? You will!
And now this much anticipated foundational film in the series, ABRAHAM: Father of Faith and Works, has been released as an exclusive parish screening program. Parishes, schools and organizations will be able to purchase a package that will include DVDs to have for sale or to gift, a free DVD for showing, promotional materials, and a 12-month site license to show the movie unlimited times in your facility or in a theater!
License holders will have 6 weeks of exclusive sales of the ABRAHAM DVD before general sales will start on March 17th.
FOOTPRINTS of GOD Parish Screening Program
And for those who would like to show all 8 Footprints of God DVDs now available: JESUS, MARY, PETER, PAUL, APOSTOLIC FATHERS, MOSES, DAVID/SOLOMONand ABRAHAM, we have packages that include a 12-month site license to show all 8 DVDs as well as a free copy of each DVD to use for showing, copies of all the DVDs to sell or gift, and promotional materials.
Both of these parish screening programs make great evangelization tools and can be used as a fundraiser as well.
Click here to see an overview of the Footprints of God films.
For more information on packages and prices available as well as the forms to order your packages, please go to www.IPMovieNights.com and click on SPECIAL SCREENING PROGRAMS.
A scene from "White Christmas", the top-grossing film of 1954, starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera-Ellen.
When Hollywood Celebrated Christmas and Marriage | Dr. Paul Kengor | CWR blog
For countless Americans, marriage is no longer the goal, and so the America of "White Christmas" and "It’s a Wonderful Life” is long gone
A few days before Christmas, I checked the schedule for Turner Classic Movies, one of the few TV channels I watch. I was looking for Christmas movies, maybe the 1938 Reginald Owen version of “A Christmas Carol” or something like that—something for the family. I was pleased to find three favorites back-to-back that I’ve seen with my wife and daughters, all nice Christmas romances—and all with a similar happy ending.
The first was “I’ll Be Seeing You” (1944), starring Ginger Rogers and Joseph Cotten, with a smaller role by a charming teenage Shirley Temple. Cotten is a World War II veteran struggling with what we would call post-traumatic stress disorder. Rogers is on Christmas furlough from prison (of all things), unjustly serving time for an accidental death that was purely self-defense. Wonderful as always, Gingers Rogers doesn’t dance or sing in this one (no Fred Astaire), but plays a compelling role. The Rogers and Cotten characters fall in love, with Christmas as the suitably warm and fuzzy back-drop.
The next film on TCM’s offering that day was “Christmas in Connecticut” (1945), starring the great Barbara Stanwyck and the lesser-known Dennis Morgan. Here, too, the guy was wounded in World War II. Stanwyck is a food writer for a home magazine. She is initially confused for a married woman, which (thankfully) she is not, clearing the way for a snowy Christmas romance, replete with the horse-drawn sleigh through the countryside.
The third movie was “Holiday Affair” (1949), with Janet Leigh and Robert Mitchum. Here again, the background is Christmas and World War II, as the Mitchum character, another veteran, pursues Janet Leigh, a single mom who lost her husband in the war. It’s a touching, fun movie, well-written—back when dialogue was more important to moviegoers than non-stop action sequences.
What strikes me about these and other films from Hollywood’s Golden Age are two things:
Ridley Scott and Missing the Point of the Book of Exodus | Fr. Robert Barron | CWR blog
Exodus is not telling a story primarily of political liberation (though that is part of it), but rather a story of spiritual liberation from false gods
Exodus is not telling a story primarily of political liberation (though that is part of it), but rather a story of spiritual liberation from false gods
Father Robert Barron is the founder of the global ministry, Word on Fire, and the Rector/President of Mundelein Seminary. He is the creator of the award winning documentary series, "Catholicism"and "Catholicism:The New Evangelization."Learn more at www.WordonFire.org
Ridley Scott’s new film “Exodus: Gods and Kings” features Moses, the Pharaoh, hundreds of thousands of slaves making their way across the floor of the Red Sea, all ten plagues, the burning bush, and even the angel of Yahweh in the form of a petulant eleven year old boy with a British accent.
And yet, the movie is spiritually flat, as though its makers had read the Biblical story but understood precious little of its theological poetry.
Many commentators have focused their critical attention on the portrayal of the angel as an annoyed little boy, but in itself that choice didn’t bother me. Let’s face it: it’s next to impossible to represent God in a cinematically adequate way. For Charlton Heston, the God of Mt. Sinai was a disembodied voice (actually Heston’s own, dramatically slowed down) and flashes of fire. I’m not at all sure that this was better than Ridley Scott’s version, and in point of fact, the weird kid caught something of the unnerving, unsettling, more than vaguely frightening quality of the God disclosed in the Old Testament.
The problem is the way the relationship between Moses and the God of Israel is presented.
From the Red Carpet to Benedictine Habit | K. V. Turley | CWR blog
The Ear of the Heart: An Actress' Journey From Hollywood to Holy Vows is a perfect read for this Year of Consecrated Life
Why would a rising Hollywood star leave it all behind and enter a monastery?
The fascinating story is told in full in The Ear of the Heart: An Actress' Journey From Hollywood to Holy Vows (Ignatius Press, 2013), by Mother Dolores Hart, OSB, and Richard DeNeut. It is especially timely during this Year of Consecrated Life, which began on the first Sunday of Advent and concludes on the World Day of Consecrated Life on February 2, 2016.
Even if you haven't heard of Dolores Hart, you have probably seen her. She has the distinction of appearing in not one but two Elvis Presley movies—Loving You and King Creole—as well as many other box office hits. Written, over many years, with Richard DeNeut, a Hollywood PR man (and a former suitor), The Ear of the Heart is part autobiography, part biography.
I first set eyes on Dolores Hart during Christmas 1977 when the BBC showed a season of Presley films following his death earlier that summer. She always played the “good girl” who saves the hero from crime and much worse—often an older siren. Of course, to my 12-year-old eyes, this beautiful actress was welcome to save me too, anytime she liked. And there it stayed for years until I read somewhere she ended up a nun. Stranger things have happened, I thought, but I did wonder how that had come about. Later searches on the internet came up with information as general as it was vague, leaving me none the wiser. So, when I spied this publication of her life story, I ordered and then opened it eagerly, all in the hope it would fill in the gaps. It did. But, what I also found was something much more besides.
For some reason, I expected Dolores to have come from a privileged background, albeit one with heavy doses of Catholicism—a la Grace Kelly—only to find that her upbringing couldn't have been more different. For a start, her mother was almost forced to undergo an abortion once it was discovered she was pregnant with the future star. Thankfully, she refused, and instead, with parents hastily wed, the child lived. That said, the family home was not only not Catholic, but also deeply unhappy. Her father, a handsome but struggling actor, was violent and soon the marriage fell apart. Consequently, young Dolores was constantly on the move, changing both locations and family configurations. Then something truly miraculous happened.
In 1946, aged just eight years old, Dolores decided to become a Catholic. This was even more remarkable given that she had only ended up at the local Catholic school on account of it being the closest to where she was then living. The local priest, however, was initially hesitant. Then Dolores' mother appeared, and told the priest that if he didn't instruct her daughter she would come back and smash every one of his stainglass windows. Dolores was soon after baptised; from then on the book chronicles how her newfound faith became the guiding force in her life.
Her entry into Hollywood was as sudden as had been her conversion.
"The Theory of Everything": A God-Haunted Film | Very Rev. Robert Barron | CWR blog
Why would a scientist assume there is or is even likely to be one unifying rational form to all things, unless he assumed there is a singular, overarching intelligence that has placed it there?
The great British physicist Stephen Hawking has emerged in recent years as a poster boy for atheism, and his heroic struggles against the ravages of Lou Gehrig’s disease have made him something of a secular saint. The new bio-pic “The Theory of Everything” does indeed engage in a fair amount of Hawking-hagiography, but it is also, curiously, a God-haunted movie.
In one of the opening scenes, the young Hawking meets Jane, his future wife, in a bar and tells her that he is a cosmologist. “What’s cosmology?” she asks, and he responds, “Religion for intelligent atheists.”
“What do cosmologists worship?” she persists. And he replies, “A single unifying equation that explains everything in the universe.”
Later on, Stephen brings Jane to his family’s home for dinner and she challenges him, “You’ve never said why you don’t believe in God.” He says, “A physicist can’t allow his calculations to be muddled by belief in a supernatural creator,” to which she deliciously responds, “Sounds less of an argument against God than against physicists.”
This spirited back and forth continues throughout the film, as Hawking settles more and more into a secularist view and Jane persists in her religious belief. As Hawking’s physical condition deteriorates, Jane gives herself to his care with truly remarkable devotion, and it becomes clear that her dedication is born of her religious conviction. Though the great scientist concluded his most popular work with a reference to “knowing the mind of God,” it is obvious by the end of the film that he meant that line metaphorically.
The last bit of information that we learn, just before the credits roll, is that Professor Hawking continues his quest to find the theory of everything, that elusive equation that will explain all of reality. Do you see why I say the entire film is haunted by God?
An "Exodus" Plagued by Extravagant Mediocrity | Nick Olszyk | CWR
Ridley Scott's telling of the story of Moses has numerous flaws. Better to read the Good Book instead.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 USCCB Rating: NR Reel Rating: (2 out of 5)
There are several film and television adaptations of the story of the Exodus and subsequent events—most notably, of course, Cecil B. DeMille's classic 1956 epic, The Ten Commandments—so director Ridley Scott had to do something distinct with Exodus: Gods and Kings. Unfortunately, aside from one interesting (but not positive) development, most of the film’s 150 minutes consists of a rehashing of old approaches and a reworking of ideas that covered many times already.
Granted, these do come with some pretty awesome special effects, although the parting of the Red Sea is still better in DeMille’s version, despite being produced almost sixty years ago, with obvious technical limitations. In short, Exodus isn’t a bad movie, just one that’s better enjoyed on DVD, with doughnuts, while writing a high school religion paper comparing the biblical account to the cinematic re-telling.
The first half is almost verbatim a combination of The Ten Commandments and Dreamworks' animated 1999 feature, The Prince of Egypt. Like Commandments, Scott paints an epic world of towering statues, brilliant costumes, and exotic accents. Like Prince, Moses (Christian Bale) and Ramses (Joel Edgerton) were raised together “as close as brothers,” then gradually grow apart when a closely guarded secret is discovered.
Many good actors have played Moses, including Charlton Heston, Val Kilmer, and Mel Brooks. Bale’s prophet is a pragmatic general who puts his faith in knowledge and skill rather than the Egyptian religion.
This Christmas help enrich your loved ones' faith by gifting them with one of our inspirational and educational DVD series.
And, as our gift to you, from now until December 31st we're offering 50% OFF on the best-selling and new DVD series listed below.
Don't miss this opportunity! Order today!
Symbolon: The Catholic Faith Explained
The Complete Set
Symbolon: The Catholic Faith Explained is a stunning new video series that systematically presents the BIG picture of the Catholic Faith. This compelling series contains two parts including ten episodes each. In Part 1 we journey through the core teachings of the Catholic Church traced out in the Creed and Catechism with the goal of knowing the Faith. In Part 2, we focus on our encounter with God in the sacraments and the moral life so that we can be fully living the Faith.
The True Beauty and True Strength series focuses on what it takes to be real man or woman of God, as it discusses the themes of chastity, love, fellowship, and relationships in the everyday lives of young men and women.
Join Dr. Tim Gray — gifted Scripture teacher, internationally acclaimed author, and President of the Augustine Institute — on a Biblical voyage unlike any other. In this first installment of Lectio: Unveiling Scripture and Tradition, Dr. Gray takes us on an intensive journey into the life of one of history’s most compelling characters.
Peter: Cornerstone of Catholicism offers a fascinating, in-depth study series on the life and meaning of St. Peter. Bringing together Biblical stories, historical knowledge, solid Church teaching, and personal insights, Dr. Gray gives a fresh perspective on the fisherman who Jesus entrusted with His Church. In these 10 stirring lectures, we’ll learn what happens when flawed humanity comes up against God made flesh.
*This is available as a presale item that will ship by December 12, 2014.
Introducing a brand new bible study video series featuring Dr. Tim Gray
San Francisco, November 24, 2014 – The Augustine Institute, partnering with Lighthouse Media and Ignatius Press, is excited to announce a brand new video-based study series: Lectio: Unveiling Scripture and Tradition. This dynamic series explores the truth and relevance of the Scriptures and Tradition of the Catholic Church.
The first installment of this new series, entitled Peter: Cornerstone of Catholicism, oﬀers an intensive and fascinating course on the life and meaning of Saint Peter. In 10 dynamic presentations given by Dr. Tim Gray — a gifted teacher and scholar from the renowned Augustine Institute – viewers learn what happens when flawed humanity comes up against God made flesh.
Bringing together biblical stories, historical knowledge, solid Church teaching, and personal insights, Dr. Tim Gray gives a fresh perspective on the life and work of the man Jesus entrusted with leadership of His Church.
Dr. Gray calls the Lectio series “a compelling new adult faith formation series that intertwines Scripture and Tradition in a rich, and uniquely Catholic way. The videos incorporate wonderful footage from the Holy Land and Rome along with a rich selection of Catholic art through the ages to visually capture the beauty and splendor of our Catholic Tradition.”
The Peter: Cornerstone of Catholicism series features 5 DVDs with over 7 hours of video presentation, a convenient Study Resource featuring 10 weeks of guided reﬂection, and a Comprehensive Leader Guide for eﬀective group study.
Dr. Gray explains what makes the Lectio series unique, saying, “Lectio provides the most robust and content rich participant’s guide of any study, with daily guided meditation for personal prayer with scripture (lectio), essays on beautiful art related to the topic, geography, history, and literary insights into Scripture, memory verses along with questions and discussion points for small groups and a leaders guide.”
For more information, or to view a sample clip from Peter: Cornerstone of Catholicism, please visit: http://www.LectioIP.com
About Tim Gray: Dr. Tim Gray is the President and Co-Founder of the Augustine Institute, a dynamic new Graduate School of Sacred Scripture and Evangelization & Catechesis in Denver. A nationally renowned speaker and author, Dr. Gray has filmed numerous series for EWTN, produced multiple audio presentations for Lighthouse Catholic Media, and published numerous books and articles. He is also the co-author of the popular study series The Great Adventure Bible Timeline.
Dr. Gray is available for interviews about this series. To request a review copy or an interview with Dr. Tim Gray, please contact: Rose Trabbic, Publicist, Ignatius Press at (239) 867-4180 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Ignatius Press announces release of a cinematographic meditation book on the life of the Blessed Mother
SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 4, 2014 – MARY of NAZARETH, the epic motion picture on the life of the Blessed Mother from her childhood through the Resurrection of Jesus that was seen by some 200,000 people on 552 screenings in more than 270 cities across North America as part of Ignatius Press’ theatrical and parish screening program, now has a companion volume: Mary of Nazareth: The Life of Our Lady in Pictures.
With inspiring commentary and meditations authored by Marian priest, Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, this full-color companion to the popular film provides further inspiration and insight about the mysterious life of love, faith and sacrifice of the woman God chose to be the Mother of the Savior of mankind, Mary of Nazareth.
The Life of Our Lady in Pictures features over 65 lovely photos from the movie that tell the moving story of the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary, from childhood through the Resurrection of her Son, Jesus Christ.
Fr. Calloway, a Marian scholar well-known for his extensive writings on Our Lady, presents in this volume short but profound insights and meditations about Mary, her unique life, her deep relationship with Jesus Christ, her special role in the story of salvation and her importance to all Christians.
“Mary of Nazareth is an absolute theological and Mariological masterpiece! The most stunning portrayal of the Virgin Mary on film,” says Calloway, considered one of the foremost experts on the life of Mary. “It will make you want to love her more than ever.”
To view a sneak peek FLIPBOOK of the film, endorsements from prominent Catholics and much more information on the movie that inspired the book, please visit www.MaryFilm.com.
For more information, or to schedule an interview with author and Marian expert Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, or AlissaJung, who plays Mary and who will be in the UNITED STATES for a book and DVD tour Nov. 14-19, please contact Kevin Wandra (404-788-1276 or KWandra@CarmelCommunications.com).
When the Communists Murdered a Priest | Paul Kengor | CWR blog
[Editor’s note: This article first appeared at The American Spectator.]
It was October 19, 1984—30 years ago this week. A gentle, courageous, and genuinely holy priest, Jerzy Popieluszko, age 37, found himself in a ghastly spot that, though it must have horrified him, surely did not surprise him. An unholy trinity of three thugs from communist Poland’s secret police had seized and pummeled him. He was bound and gagged and stuffed into the trunk of their cream-colored Fiat 125 automobile as they roamed the countryside trying to decide where to dispatch him. This kindly priest was no less than the chaplain to the Solidarity movement, the freedom fighters who would ultimately prove fatal to Soviet communism—and not without Popieluszko’s stoic inspiration.
The ringleader this October day was Captain Grzegorz Piotrowski, an agent of Poland’s SB. Unlike Jerzy, who grew up devoutly religious, Piotrowski was raised in an atheist household, which, like the communist despots who governed Poland, was an aberration in this pious Roman Catholic country. The disregard for God and morality made Piotrowski an ideal man for the grisly task ahead, which he assumed with a special, channeled viciousness.
Piotrowski’s first beating of the priest that evening was so severe that it should have killed him. Jerzy was a small man afflicted with Addison’s disease. He previously had been hospitalized for other infirmities, including (understandably) stress and anxiety. But somehow, the priest was managing to survive as he fought for his life in the cold, dark trunk of the Fiat. In fact, somehow he unloosened the ropes that knotted him and extricated himself from the car. He began to run, shouting to anyone who could hear, “Help! Save my life!”
He was run down by Piotrowski, a dedicated disciple of what a Polish admirer of Jerzy, Pope John Paul II, would dub the Culture of Death. “I caught up with him and hit him on the head several times with the stick,” Piotrowski later confessed. “I hit him near or on the head. He fell limp again. I think he must have been unconscious. And then I became—never mind, it doesn’t matter.”
It did matter. It certainly mattered to the helpless priest. What Piotrowski became was something altogether worse. He seemed overtaken by another force. As recorded by authors Roger Boyes and John Moody in their superb book, Messenger of the Truth, which is now a gripping documentary, Piotrowski’s accomplices thought their comrade had gone mad, “so wild were the blows.” It was like a public flogging. Jerzy’s pounding was so relentless that it wouldn’t be misplaced to think of Christ’s scourging at the pillar. This young man in persona Christi, not much older than Jesus Christ at his death agony, was being brutally tortured. It was a kind of crucifixion; the kind at which communists uniquely excelled.
One is tempted to say that Piotrowski beat the hell out of Father Jerzy, but such would be inappropriate and inaccurate for such a man of faith. Really, the hell was coming out of the beater, in all its demonic force and fury.
After another round of thrashing, Piotrowski and his two fellow tormentors ramped up the treatment. They grabbed a roll of thick adhesive tape and ran it around the priest’s mouth, nose, and head, tossing him once again in the vehicle, like a hunk of garbage on its way to the heap.
Mary of Nazareth is an epic motion picture on the life of Mary, mother of Christ, from her childhood through the Resurrection of Jesus. Shot in High Definition, it was filmed in Europe with outstanding cinematography, a strong cast, and a majestic music score. Actress Alissa Jung gives a beautiful, compelling and inspired portrayal of Mary.
The film vividly captures the essence of Mary’s profound faith and trust in God amidst the great mysteries that she lived with as the Mother of the Messiah, as well as her compassionate humanity and concern for others, and the deep love that she and Jesus shared for one another. The movie underscores her special role in God’s plan for our redemption, her unique relationship with Christ, and the tremendous suffering that she endured in union with his passion and death, as well as her serene joy at his Resurrection.
It was directed by acclaimed European film director Giacomo Campiotti (Bakhita, Doctor Zhivago, St. Giuseppe Moscati), and written by Francesco Arlanch (Restless Heart, Pius XII, Pope John Paul II). In addition to the luminous performance by Jung, the film also has inspiring portrayals by Andreas Pietschmann as Jesus, Luca Marinelli as Joseph, Paz Vega as Mary Magdalene and Antonia Liskova as Herodias. The original music score by Guy Farley is enthralling and majestic.
After viewing this movie, Pope Benedict XVI said: “ Mary of Nazareth is the woman of a full and total ‘Here I am’ to the Divine Will. In her ‘yes’, even when faced with the loss of her Son, we find complete and profound beatitude.”
Two-Disc Collector’s Edition. Includes many Special Features – Interview with Alissa Jung; “Backstage” film segment; Film Photos Slide Show; Interview with Fr. Don Calloway; Music Video with song “Pieta”; 24 page Collector’s Booklet & Study Guide; and more.
In English with Spanish and English subtitles.
Praise for Mary of Nazareth:
"The most stunning portrayal of the Virgin Mary on film. A masterpiece!" - Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC
"Mary of Nazareth captivated me from the first scene to the last." - Johnnette Benkovic, Women of Grace
"A profound story of faith, love, suffering and hope. See this film." - Archbishop Samuel Aquila, Denver, CO.
"A very anointed work, a powerful medium of grace." - Michael O'Brien, Author, Father Elijah
"A gripping story, with authentic background, faithfully orthodox very beautiful cinematography." - Steve Ray, Host, The Footprints of God
"Powerful, captivating, and mesmerizing- Mary of Nazareth will transport you to another place and time and you'll grow immensely closer to the Mother of God." - Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle, EWTN TV Host
WARNING: DVDs are licensed for home use only. It is illegal to show this movie in a public setting such as a church, school or organization's hall without a Site License. That applies even if you are not charging admission. For more information and to obtain a Mary of Nazareth Site License, please go to www.MaryFilm.com or email or call Diane direct at 734-455-1973 or toll free at 1-866-431-1531 x 5.
Nicolas Cage stars in a scene from the movie "Left Behind." (CNS photo/Teddy Smith, courtesy Stoney Lake Entertainment)
The Worst Rapture Movie Ever Made | Carl E. Olson | Catholic World Report blog
The "Left Behind" reboot starring Nicholas Cage continues a dubious tradition of Fundamentalist "end times" movies that are unbearable, unbelievable, and unbiblical
A dozen years ago, I wrote an article, “No End In Sight”, for First Things, in which I wrote, perhaps with a dash of sarcasm: “Only two more Left Behind books to go and we’ll finally know how the world ends. I can hardly wait. I feel fortunate that I live at a time when someone finally figured out what the Book of Revelation really means.” I noted that the novel, The Remnant: On the Brink of Armageddon, which was the most recent Left Behind book at that time (it was #13, and three more followed between 2003-2007), had a first printing of 2,750,000 copies. “That’s a serious number of people learning the secrets of the Book of Revelation,” I wrote, “Unfortunately for them, the secrets are stale, recycled, and false.”
Four years ago, Christian Post reported that Cloud Ten Pictures, the company that produced the first Left Behind movie in 2000, starring Kirk Cameron, had finally settled a lawsuit with Tim LaHaye—creator and co-author of the mega-selling novels—that was rooted LaHaye's claim that “the producers made a lower quality film than the contract demanded.” That is funny in it's own right, since LaHaye (b. 1926), a high profile Fundamentalist pastor based in San Diego who has authored or co-authored some fifty books, should know that it's impossible to make a good Rapture movie—or so it appears, based on all available evidence (including the three previous Left Behind movies).
But LaHaye was persistent, saying, “My dream has always been to enter the movie theater with a first-class, high-quality movie that is grippingly interesting, but also is true to the biblical storyline – and that was diluted in the first attempt, but Lord willing, we are going to see this thing made into the movie that it should be.” And so LaHaye had agreed, in 2010, to allow Cloud Ten Pictures “to make a Hollywood version of the New York Times bestseller series.”
Two nights ago, I took two friends to the opening night of the Left Behind “reboot,” the so-called “Hollywood version” of the series. I can safely say, with my right hand on a Bible and a stiff drink in my left, that the new movie is not first-class, high-quality, grippingly interesting, or true to the biblical storyline. It's so bad that Nicholas Cage—apparently the “Hollywood” in “Hollywood version”—looks embarrassed to be in the film, and I'm guessing that Cage has rarely felt embarrassed about much of anything.
Five Myths About the “Rapture” and the “Left Behind” Industry | Carl E. Olson | CWR
On the (short) history, (bad) theology, and (continuing) appeal of premillennial dispensationalism
This year has marked a sort of second coming of “the Rapture”. On June 29th, HBO launched a new series, "The Leftovers", based on the 2011 novel of the same title, written by Tom Perrotta, which follows the struggles of various characters living in the aftermath of the sudden disappearance of millions of people. “And then it happened,” states the novel's Prologue, “The biblical prophecy came true, or at least partly true. People disappeared, millions of them at the same time, all over the world.” The twist is that Perrotta apparently uses the Rapture as a plot device, but does not adhere to the dispensationalist belief system which features the Rapture (more on that below).
And ever since I was a kid, I wondered what would happen if the Rapture were to happen and all of the sudden we were in seven years of hell. So, I went through Revelations and I got to the sixth trumpet, in which the Abyss is opened and the demons are released, and I said, ‘There it is!’ ... In the process of writing The Remaining, once I was sure the project would stand up to an evangelical base, I did a lot of work on making sure the rules of the Rapture were biblically accurate.
If La Scala really did refer to The Apocalypse as “Revelations”, then readers will be forgiven for questioning the depth of his research and knowledge of Scripture. Then again, being “biblically accurate” has never been a strong suit of the “left behind” theology (again, more on that below).
And then there is the new “Left Behind” movie, in theaters this coming Friday, starring Nicholas Cage (yes, he's still acting—or at least appearing in movies). The verbiage is boilerplate and sensational, a combination that has been an essential part of Rapture fiction since British author Sydney Watson published a trilogy of end times novels a hundred years ago—Scarlet and Purple (1913), The Mark of the Beast (1915), and In the Twinkling of an Eye (1916):
In the blink of an eye, the biblical Rapture strikes the world. Millions of people disappear without a trace. All that remains are their clothes and belongings, and in an instant, terror and chaos spread around the world.
With that in mind, I am reposting an article I wrote in late 2003 for Crisis magazine, which examines five of the central myths, or misunderstandings, about the Rapture and related matters. I've not updated it (for example, there are a total of sixteen Left Behind novels, and they have sold around 65 million copies in all), but the main points are still just as good today as they were then.
Three years ago I mentioned to a Catholic friend that I was starting to work on a book critiquing the Left Behind novels and premillennial dispensationalism, the unique theological belief system presented, in fictional format, within those books. “Why?” she asked, obviously bewildered. “No one really takes that stuff seriously.”
That revealing remark merely reinforced my desire to write that book, Will Catholics Be “Left Behind”? (Ignatius, 2003). Other conversations brought home the same point. Far too many people, including a significant number of Catholics, do not recognize the attraction and power of this Fundamentalist phenomenon. Nor do they appear to appreciate how much curiosity exists about the “end times,” the book of Revelation, and the “pretribulation Rapture”—the belief that Christians will be taken up from earth prior to a time of tribulation and the Second Coming. In addition, I hoped to pen the sort of book I wish that I, as a Fundamentalist, could have read while studying and approaching, by fits and starts, the Catholic Church.
In the course of writing articles, giving talks, and writing the book, I have encountered a number of questions and comments—almost all from Catholics—that indicate how much confusion exists about matters of eschatology, not to mention ecclesiology, historical theology, and the interpretation of Scripture. The five myths I present here summarize many of those questions, and I seek to provide basic and clear answers for them.
“The Left Behind books represent a fringe belief system that very few people take seriously.”
Exactly how many copies of the Left Behind books must be sold before the theology they propagate can be taken seriously?
Auschwitz, 1941. One of the prisoners, Jan, escapes from the German concentration camp while working at a gravel pit. Thanks to the help of good-hearted people he finds shelter. There Jan hears tragic news about ten random inmates sentenced to death by starvation by the Nazis as a punishment for his escape. One among the convicts is Fr. Maximillian Kolbe, a Franciscan priest who volunteered to die in place of one of the inmates.
Now Jan is not just fleeing the Nazis, but also from his guilt for his involvement in Kolbe's death. He goes to visit Niepokalanów, a very large Franciscan monastery where Fr. Kolbe had been the founder and superior. There Jan wants to learn what were the motives behind his decision to die for another prisoner, a complete stranger. Though free from Auschwitz, Jan will continue to be confronted by the life and death of Maximilian Kolbe wherever he goes.
In addition to Jan - torn between wanting to forget and a fascination with Kolbe - another key character emerges, Brother Anselm. He is a devout young Franciscan priest who quietly but strongly witnesses to Kolbe's heroic faith and love, and then rejoices at the Beatification of Kolbe by Pope Paul VI. Later Kolbe will be canonized by his fellow countryman, Pope John Paul II, who proclaimed Kolbe as the "patron saint of the difficult 20th century".
This acclaimed film was directed by Krzystof Zanussi, and stars Christoph Waltz and Edward Zentara in powerful performances.
In Polish, with English and Spanish subtitles.
Includes a 16-page Collector's Booklet and Study Guide with color photos, and text by Catholic film critic Steve Greydanus
Praise for Life for Life:
"Life for Life reflects thoughtfully on what the cult of the saints means for us, on the nature of hagiography itself. Perhaps more than any film I can think of, it explores how the saints can and should inspire us, if we are open to them, or how we may stumble at them if we are not. For this reason alone, it's among the most essential saint films I've seen." -Steven Greydanus, Film Critic, National Catholic Register
Dustin Kahia and Patrick Coffin, founders of Immaculata Pictures (www.immaculatapictures.com)
New indie company, Immaculata Pictures, works to resurrect forgotten storytelling | CWR Staff | Catholic World Report
Writer/radio host Patrick Coffin and writer Dustin Kahia are in the middle of a Kickstarter campaign to help finance their film, "Call of the Void"
Tired of the non-stop uncreative schlock Hollywood churns out each month? Hungry for movies you can get excited about the way you used to? Able to support a new Kickstarter campaign to make it happen? Read on.
Writer and radio host Patrick Coffin, who pens The Cinephile for Catholic World Report, and his writing partner Dustin Kahia are starting to see a dream come true. Immaculata Pictures was founded this year to reintroduce and recombine classic storytelling with the latest techniques and equipment. CWR sat down recently with the two San Diego-based filmmakers to talk about their company, dream, and the plan to actualize it.
CWR: Patrick, since your name is better known to CWR readers and because of your work in Catholic radio, let’s start with you. Where did the idea for Immaculata Pictures come from?
PC: The name and the legal status as a company really came from Dustin, who had been working for some time to set up a production platform from which to start making movies. I graduated from the well-known Act One: Writing for Hollywood and have worked on a number of writing projects that ended up in what the industry calls Development Hell – the dreaded limbo status of a script that isn’t rejected (and could even be sold) but is not yet filmed or distributed. I also worked at Paulist Productions for the late Father Ellwood Kieser, CSP, as a creative development executive, which gave me a real world sense of how projects go from zero to one. When I met Dustin, not only was the synergy and sympatico there, but so was the timing.
CWR: Dustin, what is your background in the film industry?
DK: I came into filmmaking the tried-and-true way: I interned, first at Morgan Freeman’s Revelations Entertainment and then at Village Roadshow Pictures in Los Angeles. Although no one knew it, I was commuting all the way from San Diego to LA each day. But the training and experience was well worth it. It was a crash course in the entertainment business.
Woody Allen's Bleak Vision | Fr. Robert Barron | CWR blog
The filmmaker's despairing philosophy of life is contradicted by hints of beauty, truth, and goodness in his movies
I was chagrined, but not entirely surprised, when I read Woody Allen’s recent ruminations on ultimate things.
To state it bluntly, Woody could not be any bleaker in regard to the issue of meaning in the universe. We live, he said, in a godless and purposeless world. The earth came into existence through mere chance and one day it, along with every work of art and cultural accomplishment, will be incinerated. The universe as a whole will expand and cool until there is nothing left but the void.
Every hundred years or so, he continued, a coterie of human beings will be “flushed away” and another will replace it until it is similarly eliminated. So why does he bother making films—roughly one every year? Well, he explained, in order to distract us from the awful truth about the meaninglessness of everything, we need diversions, and this is the service that artists provide. In some ways, low level entertainers are probably more socially useful than high-brow artistes, since the former manage to distract more people than the latter. After delivering himself of this sunny appraisal, he quipped, “I hope everyone has a nice afternoon!”
Woody Allen’s perspective represents a limit-case of what philosopher Charles Taylor calls “the buffered self,” which is to say, an identity totally cut off from any connection to the transcendent. On this reading, this world is all we’ve got, and any window to another more permanent mode of existence remains tightly shut. Prior to the modern period, Taylor observes, the contrary idea of the “porous self” was in the ascendency. This means a self that is, in various ways and under various circumstances, open to a dimension of existence that goes beyond ordinary experience.
If you consult the philosophers of antiquity and the Middle Ages, you would find a very frank acknowledgement that what Woody Allen observed about the physical world is largely true.
Brendan Gleeson stars in "Calvary," written and directed by John Michael McDonagh
A Good Priest Is Hard to Film | Michael Jameson | CWR
John Michael McDonagh's new film, "Calvary", has a gripping premise, but a shaky grasp on Catholic teaching and practice
The poster for Calvary is arresting and evocative: a cross of bullet holes marks the lead character, Fr. James--seemingly shot through the paper. John Michael McDonagh's Calvary attempts to tell the story of a "good priest" who, while waiting in the confessional for a penitent, receives a death threat from a male victim of sexual abuse, whose identity is obscured by the confessional. The penitent tells the priest to meet him on the beach in seven days. The killer explains his logic as follows: no one pays any mind when a bad priest is killed, but if a good priest is murdered, he'll have everyone's attention.
Thus begins this sometimes promising but ultimately unsatisfying film, with Fr. James unpacking the veracity of the threat and the potential identity of the confessional-obscured killer. However, the faithful Catholic viewer will quickly notice that the descriptive "good priest" mean very different things to different people.
Stills from the film, "Desire of the Everlasting Hills" (everlastinghills.org)
Same-Sex Attraction and the Universal Desires of the Human Heart | Carrie Gress | CWR
Fr. Paul Check, executive director of Courage, says the film, Desire of the Everlasting Hills, portrays a “special blend of humility, courage, and charity"
On the face of it, the newly-released film, Desire of the Everlasting Hills, has a typical plot. A man is looking for a soul mate to fulfill him, and then the soul mate is found—but something is missing: God. St. Augustine could relate.
What makes “Desire of the Everlasting Hills” different is that the one-hour-long film features three individuals with same-sex attraction—the people our culture tells us are fulfilled in their lifestyle, cannot change, don’t want to change, and so forth. But the movie reveals that they, like St. Augustine, have hearts that are restless until they rest in God.
The movie was produced by the Courage Apostolate, which ministers to people with same-sex attraction who want to live by the Catholic Church’s sexual teachings.
Asked why he made this film, Fr. Paul Check, the executive director of Courage and a former Marine Corps Officer, told Catholic World Report: “When I first started working within the Courage Apostolate, I recall Fr. John Harvey, our founding executive director, saying, ‘Our best ambassadors are our members.’ In the culture that we live right now, the best way to engage people, especially on a topic of such sensitivity, complexity and of a painful nature, is through story.”
With the stories of Paul, Dan and Rilene, Fr. Check explained, the filmmakers found “people who would like to share their perspective, while not claiming that their story is every man’s story, but just saying ‘look, here is my story.’” From there, the priest added, they can find a way to engage in conversation “in some places we wouldn’t be otherwise welcome.”
“We first showed the film publicly at a Christian LGBT film festival in Pasadena, California, in March called Level Ground,” he explained. “It was well received because of the production value—it is just a well-made movie—but also because of the authenticity of the stories.”
“The content of the stories made some people uncomfortable. We aren’t surprised by that. The preaching of Jesus made a lot of people uncomfortable too, so that just shows that fallen human nature is still alive and well in the world, unfortunately.”
The sometimes quirky, often funny, and at times shocking film, follows the lives of three people:
Ansel Elgort and Shailene Woodley star in a scene from the movie "The Fault in Our Stars." (CNS photo/Fox)
"The Fault in Our Stars" and the Sacred Heart of Jesus | Fr. Robert Barron | Catholic World Report blog
The question that haunts the entire movie is how can there be meaning in the universe when two wonderful young kids are dying of cancer?
John Green’s novel The Fault in Our Stars (Dutton Books, 2012) has proven to be wildly popular among young adults in the English-speaking world, and the recently released film adaptation of the book has garnered both impressive reviews and a massive audience.
A one-time divinity school student and Christian minister, Green is not reluctant to explore the “big” questions, though he doesn’t claim to provide anything like definitive answers. In this, he both reflects and helps to shape the inchoate, eclectic spirituality that holds sway in the teen and 20-something set today. After watching the film however, I began to wonder whether his Christian sensibility doesn’t assert itself perhaps even more clearly and strongly than he realizes.
The story is narrated by Hazel Grace Lancaster, a teenager suffering from a debilitating and most likely terminal form of cancer. At her mother’s prompting, Hazel attends a support group for young cancer patients that takes place at the local Episcopal Church. The group is presided over by a well-meaning but nerdy youth minister who commences each meeting by rolling out a tapestry of Jesus displaying his Sacred Heart. “We are gathering, literally, in the heart of Jesus,” he eagerly tells the skeptical and desultory gaggle of teens.
At one of these sessions, Hazel rises to share her utterly bleak, even nihilistic philosophy of life:
Non-believers Make the Best Saint Movies: Monsieur Vincent | Patrick Coffin | CWR
“It is only because of your love that the poor will forgive you the bread that you give them.”
When Christians make movies about saints, they sometimes succeed as hagiography, always make their intended audiences feel good, and almost always fail as art. Christians often can’t resist the temptation to tell the story with a bullhorn and end up, too frequently, with movies that appeal primarily to the choir, the members of which are (understandably) hungry for fare that glorifies the Faith.
When agnostics and atheists make movies about saints or other heroes whose life choices were motivated by the claims of faith, however, things tend to turn out differently. If it’s true that saints irritate us into changing our ways, secular artists often build into their art their own anxious searching, their own “reaching out” to meet the irritating (read fascinating) protagonist, to understand him, and to unveil the mystery of what makes him tick. A few examples would include Therese (1986),the French film about St. Therese of Lisieux written and directed by Alain Cavalier; The Song of Bernadette (1943), written by Franz Werfel; Man For All Seasons (1966) and The Mission (1986), written by Robert Bolt; and The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928), written and directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer. I argue this would include Darren Aronofsky and Ari Handel for Noah (2014).
In this tradition stands Monsieur Vincent (1946), the classic biopic of St. Vincent de Paul. It was directed by Maurice Cloche based on a script adapted by the great French playwright Jean Anouilh, who built a writing career exploring ideas that resonate more with Albert Camus and Jean Paul Sartre than with Frank Capra and Walt Disney. Interestingly, Anouilh had successfully tackled another saintly subject in his celebrated play Becket, the movie version of which starred Richard Burton and Peter O’Toole.
In Monsieur Vincent, director Cloche and co-writer Anouilh omit the real life backstory of St. Vincent being sold as a slave, and begin the story with the priest’s arrival at the village of Châtillon-les-Dombes (more on this later).