Monday, December 30, 2019

Are American Monarchists Dreamers? - Crisis Magazine

Are American Monarchists Dreamers? - Crisis Magazine: One of the commentators on a recent Crisis article of mine declared that “Charles Coulombe is a weird person who desires the destruction of democracy and its replacement with monarchy again. There is a bizarre thread in Crisis now that desires such stupid stuff.” I suppose I am a weird person, so I can’t disagree …

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Essential Films: 8 1/2 (1963)

LA STRADA (1954) HD remastered Federico Fellini

The Well-Fought Fight - Crisis Magazine

The Well-Fought Fight - Crisis Magazine: The incorporation of Anglican hymnody into English-language Catholic worship is one of the great blessings of the past 50 years. And within that noble musical patrimony, Ralph Vaughan Williams surely holds pride of place among modern composers. Well do I remember the summer day in 1965 when I heard a massed chorus of men and …

Monday, December 23, 2019

Proclaiming the Gospel in a secularized world dec 23

Proclaiming the Gospel in a secularized world

In his recent address to members of the Roman Curia, Pope Francis recalls that we are no longer living in a Christian world, and speaks of the need for pastoral conversion and being authentic missionaries.
By Andrea Tornielli
Pope Francis’ discourse to the Roman Curia on Saturday 21 December, was important both in terms of what he said, and how he said it. Recognizing something that was already evident to several great men of the Church even before the Second Vatican Council, the Pope confirmed that: "Christendom no longer exists”.
“Today we are no longer the only ones who create culture, nor are we in the forefront or those most listened to… We are no longer living in a Christian world, because faith – especially in Europe, but also in a large part of the West – is no longer an evident presupposition of social life; indeed, faith is often rejected, derided, marginalized and ridiculed”. 
“We need a change in our pastoral mindset, which does not mean moving towards a relativistic pastoral care”, said Pope Francis. This change of mentality means recognizing that “Christian life is a journey, a pilgrimage”, one that “is not just geographical, but above all symbolic: it is a summons to discover the movement of the heart, which, paradoxically, has to set out in order to remain, to change in order to be faithful”.

The faith used to be passed on within families and the example of parents; society too was inspired by Christian principles. Today this transmission has been interrupted and our social context, if not anti-Christian, appears to be at least impermeable to the Christian faith. Hence the question that gave life to the Second Vatican Council and was reflected in recent pontificates: how to proclaim the Gospel where it is no longer known or recognized?
It is no coincidence that with an exponential crescendo, successive Bishops of Rome have identified mercy as the medicine necessary to heal the wounds of contemporary humanity. The mercy of a God who seeks us out, approaches us, and embraces us before judging us. It is by experiencing that embrace that we recognize ourselves as poor sinners in constant need of help.
At the end of Saturday’s meeting, Pope Francis gave his collaborators of the Curia a copy of the book-length interview "Without Him we can do nothing", written with Gianni Valente. The Pope called it "the document" he wanted to offer for the extraordinary missionary month. In that recently published book, Pope Francis explains that "mission is His work", the work of Jesus.
"It's pointless getting agitated. There is no need to get organized, or to make a noise. There's no need for gimmicks or stratagems", because "it is Christ who makes the Church come out of itself. In the mission of proclaiming the Gospel, you move because the Holy Spirit pushes you, and carries you. And when you arrive, you realize that He has come before you, and is waiting for you”.
Proclaiming the Gospel, adds the Pope, "does not consist in besieging others with apologetic speeches”, in shouting “the truth of Revelation” in peoples’ faces. Even less "is it necessary to fling truths and doctrinal formulas on others as if they were stones". Because "the literal repetition of the announcement in itself has no effect, and can fall into emptiness, if the people to whom it is addressed have no opportunity to meet and taste in some way God’s tenderness, and His healing mercy".
A distinctive feature of the Christian mission, suggests Pope Francis, "is that of acting as facilitators, and not as controllers of the faith". To facilitate, that is, "make it easy, not to put us in the way of Jesus' desire to embrace everyone, to heal everyone, to save everyone".
Always aware that "without Him we can do nothing".
23 December 2019, 12:18

Viktor Orbán, Defender of the Faith - Crisis Magazine

Viktor Orbán, Defender of the Faith

Just a day after the second World Conference on Persecuted Christians ended this November in Budapest, Hungary, a “reformed” jihadi terrorist stabbed two innocent people to death in London, before being shot by police. The inability of the liberal secularists, who are at the center of most Western governmental policies and who control most of the information the public receives via the media and academia, to comprehend the motivation for such an attack is the reason why they will only increase.
The London Islamist attack, one of many over the last decade in Europe, focused many to ask why certain European countries have been targeted regularly and why other countries have not been targeted at all. Hungary, the host nation for the conference and still the only nation in the world to have a specific governmental ministry devoted to the assistance of persecuted Christians everywhere is regularly attacked by the European elites. Yet, strangely, it has not suffered a single Islamist attack. The unashamedly Christian Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, in a speech which should be seen as clarion call for European renewal, stated that the “key” to Hungary’s survival over the last eleven hundred years was the adoption of Christianity—meaning, of course, Catholicism—by the great Hungarian king St. Stephen. This was a “spiritual rebirth and a true conversion.”
Mr. Orbán linked the persecution of Christians in other parts of the globe with the increasing hostility towards mainstream Christianity in Europe. A “mysterious force seals the lips,” not only of politicians in the West to this persecution, but also of most of those in the media. Is this just rabble-rousing or conspiracy lunacy, or is there, in fact, as he went on to say, an “organized and wide-ranging attack on European culture and civilization?
One answer or significant piece of evidence to affirm his contention goes back to the deliberate omission from the European Constitution of the foundational place of Christianity in the formation of all that is meant by the term “Europe.” At the time, St. John Paul, and then his successors, pointed out the grave danger this “forgetfulness” would bring to the future of Europe. Both Benedict XVI and Pope Francis have spoken of the “spiritual vacuum” at the heart of secular Europe; a vacuum will eventually be filled and, as the demographics of Europe shift via massive immigration, what will fill the vacuum will be Islam.
The curious marriage between radical Islam and the secular liberalism of the elites in Europe is, at least on the surface, difficult to comprehend, but if Mr. Orbán is correct and it is essentially an attack on European culture and civilization, the ugly union becomes more obvious. On a spiritual level, secularism and radical Islam hate the cross and the victory it signifies. European civilization and culture is—or was—inescapably a Christian culture, and the hatred for that culture and history is almost a hallmark of the left. Academia and the media place all the ills of the world at the door of Western colonialism, oppression, and the evangelization of the Church. The recent Amazon Synod at the Vatican was a perfect example of how that mindset has entered the highest levels of the Church. The naīve glorification of “native cultures,” resplendent in a prelapsarian world in union with nature, then destroyed by the proclamation of the Gospel, was symbolized perfectly by the presence of the pagan fertility statue of Pachamama in the Vatican itself.
Europe, said Mr. Orbán, is “in deep trouble.” The cause he identifies is its deliberate and organized desire to forget or eradicate its Christian identity. The liberals are using what the Hungarian Prime Minister called the “muzzle of political correctness” to accomplish their death wish, which, coupled with the advancement of radical Islam, will eventually produce, if this self-loathing continues, a Europe that will be cut off from its roots. Any horticulturalist knows that a tree will die when it is rootless.
Hungary has no intention of allowing that to happen. This is obviously the reason why the policies of the Mr. Orbán government to promote the family, Christianity, and authentic Hungarian culture are so relentlessly condemned by the empty vessels who direct the European Union, which is the most hostile agency in Europe towards orthodox Christianity.
Hungary’s Christian revival is a small sign of hope in an otherwise bleak European landscape. Christians, said Mr. Orbán, have the “right to defend our culture and the way of life that has grown from it.” It is precisely this language which so antagonizes both the liberal intelligentsia and the forces who wish to radically change Europe itself. Hearing about the persecution of Christians in other cultures, the “greatest mistake Europeans can ever make,” Mr. Orbán warned, is “to say this could never happen to them—it is much closer to us than many people think.”
Both the Prime Minister and his energetic and dynamic Families Minster, Katalin Novak, spoke beautifully about the gift the persecuted Christians give to the lethargic and somewhat weak Christians of the West. Mrs. Novak described the lack of courage of so much of Western Christianity, and Mr. Orbán declared that the persecuted Christians give the West what it needs most: “Christian faith, love, and perseverance.”
Budapest, described by one participant at the conference as a “citadel of Christian freedom”, is leading the way to save European civilization because—as Hilaire Belloc so prophetically said—either “Europe will return to the Faith or she will perish.”

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Catholic influence on film - Part 2

Catholic influence on film - Part 1

How Catholicism influenced moviemaking from the early days of film (VIDEO)

How Catholicism influenced movie making from the early days of film (VIDEO)

NEW YORK (CNS) -- Motion pictures have enchanted the public since the late 19th century, providing audiences with vivid storytelling on a host of topics and conceptually transporting them to distant places.
The art form was able to merge literature, theater and even biblical accounts and project it all onto accessible screens for the masses to take in.
However, as the film industry grew in the early 20th century, Catholic Church leaders became concerned about some of the content that had become so readily available to their flock.
Priests in the United States began to discuss films they deemed objectionable during Mass and to instruct the faithful to stay away from the "sinful" content.
Catholic groups throughout the U.S. began to organize in an effort to influence filmmakers into creating content that reflected moral standards and wouldn't lead viewers to sin.
In 1915, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in its Mutual Film Corporation v. Industrial Commission of Ohio decision that free speech didn't extend to motion pictures, and states throughout the country began to introduce censorship legislation.
Faced with mounting political pressure and the possibility of having to comply with hundreds of decency laws throughout the U.S., movie studio heads worked with Jesuit Father Daniel A. Lord to develop the 1930 production code of standards for wide-release films, basically as a way of self-regulating.
"But, at first the code was really not being enforced," said John Mulderig, assistant director for media reviews for Catholic News Service.
In response, the U.S. bishops established the National Legion of Decency in 1933 to directly address the morality of films being produced by the motion picture industry.
"The hope was that if the legion were present and were able to say, 'You're going to lose a significant portion of your patronage, that is the Catholic population are going to obey their bishops and stay away from not only bad movies but perhaps boycott theaters that show movies that violate the code, then you're going to take a hit at the box office,'" Mulderig said.
"That indeed is exactly what happened ... the bishops managed to show in a very short time that they had command of the faithful. The faithful would obey them and not go to certain movies or not even go to a movie theater for six months that had shown a film that contravened the production code.
"As soon as that happened, then Hollywood sat up and took notice," he said, "and this brought on the enforcement of the production code ... in a serious way.”
That financial incentive provided the Motion Picture Production Code -- better known as the Hays Code after Will H. Hays, who was the president of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America at the time -- with more authority.
In 1934 -- under the direction of prominent public relations professional and pious Catholic Joseph I. Breen -- the MPPDA established the Production Code Administration, requiring all movies to receive a certificate of approval before release.
Hollywood studios adopted the code -- which was not enforced by federal, state or local governments -- to avoid governmental censorship and that code actually led to the disbanding of many local censorship boards.
It gave Breen the power to change scripts before shooting actually began and he'd frequently tell producers what they needed to alter in their films to avoid a "C (Condemned) Rating" by the Legion of Decency, whose reviewers were given an advance screening before its release, said Bernard F. Dick, a renowned film scholar, author and movie reviewer for the National Catholic Office for Motion Pictures, or NCOMP, as the legion was renamed in December 1965.
NCOMP was the successor of the Legion of Decency.
"No exhibitor would want to release a C-rated movie," Dick told Catholic News Service during a September interview at his home in Teaneck, New Jersey. "Breen would get the script and look at it and say, 'These lines are sex suggestive.' That was one of his famous phrases.”
The Legion of Decency wasn't just concerned about the depiction of sexually explicit content.
It was also troubled by profanity, violence, criminal activity and how religion was sometimes depicted, said Frank Frost, a founder of the U.S. membership affiliate of the International Catholic Organization for Cinema, now called Signis, and a movie critic for NCOMP from 1964 to 1971.
Gangster films that came out during Prohibition sometimes depicted murderous criminals as heroes, scenarios that could easily prompt a "C-rating," Mulderig said.
Gritty subject matters were not always condemned, however.
Leaders at the Legion of Decency realized there were benefits to having movie plots depict the seamier part of life where there were elements of promiscuity, crime and immorality, as long as the storyline had a redemptive quality to it or provided a price paid for sinful lifestyles, he said, and those films didn't necessarily receive a condemned rating.
The Legion of Decency would send out a team of reviewers and consultants to a preview screening of each wide-release film and they would write their impressions of the movie. Some would gather at the Manhattan headquarters of the legion to discuss the content before a classification was assigned.
A synopsis of the movie, its classification and sometimes the reasons why it was given would then be distributed in a newsletter to subscribers and to the National Catholic Welfare Council news service (the precursor to Catholic News Service), which would distribute it to its subscribing Catholic newspapers throughout the world.
Films were initially rated by the Legion of Decency as A: Morally unobjectionable; B: Morally objectionable in part; and C: Condemned.
John Mulderig poses for a photo Sept. 13, 2019, in Catholic News Service's New York bureau, where he serves as assistant director for media reviews. The CNS Media Review Office evolved from the National Catholic Office for Motion Pictures. (CNS photo/Chaz Muth)
The A ratings were later divvied up to A-I: Suitable for all audiences, A-II: Suitable for adults and adolescents, A-III: Suitable for adults only and A-IV: For adults with reservations.
Over the years, the B and C ratings were merged into a new O rating to reflect a morally offensive classification.
"I grew up really with the Legion of Decency, because on the first Sunday after the feast of the Immaculate Conception, the priest would ask us all to stand and take the Legion of Decency Pledge," Dick said.
The following is a version of that pledge.
"I condemn all indecent and immoral motion pictures, and those which glorify crime or criminals. I promise to do all that I can to strengthen public opinion against the production of indecent and immoral films, and to unite with all who protest against them. I acknowledge my obligation to form a right conscience about pictures that are dangerous to my moral life. I pledge myself to remain away from them. I promise, further, to stay away altogether from places of amusement which show them as a matter of policy.”
Though the pledge was voluntary and didn't carry penalties from the church to violators, people at Mass did feel an obligation to recite the oath, Mulderig said. "I presume that if you refused to do that, you would be somewhat conspicuous.”
As a boy in the 1950s, Jesuit Father Kenneth Meehan was an enthusiastic movie patron who had three movie theaters near his childhood Baltimore home and he eagerly awaited the Legion of Decency newsletter to arrive in the mail telling him about the movies ready for wide release.
Admittedly, Father Meehan said he did frequently look for the movies condemned by the legion, figuring that if the church saw fit to be outraged by the content, the film was probably racy enough to satisfy an adolescent's salacious appetite.  
Regardless of his youthful indiscretion of mind, Father Meehan did answer the call of God and during his summer break from seminary studies, he took a job at the New York office of NCOMP in the early 1970s as a movie reviewer.
"This was a dream come true for me," he told CNS. "I was allowed to blend my calling with my love of the movies and of writing."
He would use his movie reviewer experience after he was ordained a priest, teaching in Catholic schools throughout the mid-Atlantic states during the next several decades, frequently in classes dedicated to film studies.
During the middle of the 20th century, the church grappled with changes in taste and public morality and its impact on the film industry changed.
In the 1960s came the Legion of Decency's name change to NCOMP. This was meant to reflect that the organization's mission had evolved, that some of its moral standard requirements had become less stringent and that it had begun to publish reviews that evaluated the artistic qualities of a given film.
The name changed again in the 1970s to the Catholic Office of Film and Broadcasting, which merged with the National Catholic Office for Radio and Television in 1980.
In 2010, it became the Media Review Office of Catholic News Service, which is owned by the U.S. bishops but is editorially independent.
This move allowed the film reviews and classifications to continue being a part of the content CNS offered, Mulderig said.
By the 1980s, the Catholic film office lost negotiating power with movie producers and eventually discontinued producing its newsletter.
But its classifications and movie reviews continue to be one of the most popular features among CNS subscribers and still grace the pages of Catholic publications and websites.
"I certainly believe our reviews are relevant today," Mulderig said, "I think primarily for two groups of people.
"One would be the parents of underage kids who want guidance about exactly what their child will see if they go to this movie," he said. "The other area is adult Catholics who specifically want to avoid certain things.
"I think it's helpful that we're engaging with the film in the overall assessment of 'is this film one that upholds Gospel values or contradicts Gospel values?'"

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Progressive Inhumanity, Part One: The State against the Family - Crisis Magazine

Progressive Inhumanity, Part One: The State against the Family - Crisis Magazine: When they were casting for the old western The Rifleman, one small boy was brought into the room after another, to meet the star Chuck Connors and the director.  Then young Johnny Crawford came in, a little gangly in the arms and legs, with tousled hair and large brown eyes.  “That’s the son of Lucas …

Monday, December 2, 2019

Christ, the King of Advent - Crisis Magazine

Christ, the King of Advent - Crisis Magazine: “Where is he that is born King of the Jews?” In the Church calendar, the days of holy feasts and solemnities go by with dizzying speed. And sometimes the chronology seems disordered. We might wonder, for example, why the Slaughter of the Innocents on December 28th comes before the Epiphany on January 6th. The short …