Monday, June 11, 2018

And You Thought I Was Hard on the Pope Movie…

Back in April, when the promotion for Pope Francis a Man of His Word was in full gear, I had some fun with it, noting it was “risible piece of propaganda.”

Well, now that the movie is out, Matt Gaspers and Maureen Mullarkey have reviewed it and make me look almost gentle and restrained.  And they agree that the most notable aspect of the Pope Movie is that it is . . . a risible piece of propaganda.  Gaspers:


I decided to go see Pope Francis: A Man of His Word on opening weekend (it premiered on May 18 across North America) – for investigative journalism purposes only – and if I was forced to use a single word to describe it, I would have to go with propaganda. From start to finish, it is obvious that the film’s purpose is to (1) propagate a favorable narrative that (2) appeals to the emotions rather than the intellect and (3) omits inconvenient truths.

One of said inconvenient truths is that Francis’ word is something of a moving target.  Maureen Mullarkey, as is to be expected, is even harder on the movie.  I find her most on target when she notes:

“Pope Francis” is a disturbing film, not solely for its exaltation of Francis and his politics but more so for having been planned from the beginning of his ascent to office. Biography.com states that Wenders received a written invitation to “collaborate” with Pope Francis on a documentary about his pontificate in 2013, the year his papacy began…

This is crucial: Bergolio was intent on documenting himself as the hero of his own pontificate early on. Accordingly, the commissioned film subordinates the substance of the papacy to Francis’s personality and secular pieties.


That says volumes about the oh-so-humble Pope.  Further, I find this sad because of who got lured into this project.  I’ve long had the highest respect for Wim Wenders for his Paris, Texas (1984), a great movie that is one of my favorites.  For him to get tied up with such laughable propaganda for such an undeserving figure is sad indeed.  I hope Wenders is remembered for his other works.

Thursday, June 07, 2018

On Justin Welby’s EU “Terrible Error of Judgement” (and ACNA)

Gavin Ashenden has posted a piece dubbing Justin Welby’s statement in praise of the EU a “terrible error of judgement.” I think Bishop Gavin is being nice.  To say as Welby did that the European Union “is the greatest dream realised for human beings since the fall of the Roman Empire” descends into clownish cluelessness.

Nonetheless Ashenden well points out what is even a bigger problem with Welby’s statement:

There is a convention that clergy don’t speak out on political matters where their ‘flock’ or constituency reflect both sides of the argument. It’s a sensible one and has saved many an Archbishop from unnecessary humiliation and risking national disrespect.

Although those who lean to the Left find the temptation too hard to overcome sometimes, ignoring this convention suggests one of three things; that you think you have a hot-line to God, (not impossible but unlikely); that you believe your own personal political judgement is beyond criticism; or that you seriously disrespect your political opponents and their views.

And I may add that said disrespect invites anger and division . . . although in Welby’s case, his statement is so absurd that laughter is more appropriate and more common I suspect.

The bishops and other leadership of the Anglican Church in North America would do well to read and consider.  No, I cannot recall an ACNA bishop going so far as Welby into ill-advised political statements.  But ACNA would do well to be more careful to respect “political opponents and their views” in areas in which ACNA is not of one mind.  We have enough areas of disagreement and difference to navigate as it is.


We can learn a lot from Justin Welby . . . from his “terrible errors of judgement.”

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Young C. S. Lewis Near the Beginning of WWI

I have begun to read/skim The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, edited by Walter Hooper (And be sure to get his edition.  Other collections may short-change you.).  And I am glad I have.  I am still in Lewis’ teen years.  But he was a pleasure to read even back then.

I also appreciate getting slices of life from the early 20th Century, particularly during World War One.

Among the passages of his youthful letters that stand out is one from a letter to his closest friend Arthur Greeves.  He steps outside himself and observes himself remarkably well at age 15.  After some negative boarding school experiences, he is happy under the tutelage of W. T. Kirkpatrick even as The Great War begins:

So great is the selfishness of human nature, that I can look out from my snug nest with the same equanimity on the horrid desolation of the war, and the well known sorrows of my old school.  I feel that this ought not to be so: but I can no more alter my disposition that I can change the height of my stature or the colour of my hair.  It would be mere affectation to pretend that sympathy with those whose lot is not so happy as mine, seriously disturbs the tenour of my complacence.  Whether this is egotism of youth, some blemish in my personal character, or the common inheritance of humanity, I do not know.  What is your opinion?

So he asks Greeves in November 1914. 

How would you answer young C. S. Lewis?