Aesthetic Catholicism in Movies

By | September 1, 2019

We’ll go to Leonardo in Woodbridge,
Virginia listening on the EWTN app. Leonardo, you are on with Deacon
Steven Greydanus. Hi, thank you for being able to answer my question. So
I’m calling because I have a question that, it relates to movies, but I feel
that also it kind of speaks to other sort of relevant forms of media as well,
and so I wanted to sort of call in and ask sort of what your thoughts were.
So on top of, you know, being a very avid movie lover, I’m also an avid gamer, and
share a lot of your other current listeners are; and so I’m calling in
because I’ve noticed both in movies and in forms of media like gaming, where a
lot of different–a lot of these different forms of media have a lot of
religious influences, specifically Christian influences. You can go from, you
know, movies like Sister Act, and to the other side of the spectrum, like, the
Golden Compass and DaVinci Code. I know it’s the same with different types of
video games, I mean, your viewers would probably hear familiar names like Final
Fantasy or Skyrim or Dragon Quest. And so I noticed that on either side, in
movies, and, you know, some of these Christian influenced movies and
other groups of media, especially the ones that are created by people from Eastern cultures,
a lot of these types in media have, you know, these religious influences that are
placing clearly sort of fictitious scenarios, they’re not really using any,
you know, explicit, you know, Biblical figures in any way, a lot of these
movies or forms of media use the aesthetic of Christianity to tell a
fictional tale. And so to my– Go ahead, just get to the question
because I’m just watching the clock tick away there, so in one sentence, then, the
question, because I think you made your, you set the point very well, what’s the
question? Yeah, so my question is, where do we sort of draw the line between what is–
between calling these, you know, movies, are sort of, to me, sacrilegious, versus
licit religious inspiration, like where do we draw the line between what’s sacrilegious…
Right. That’s–it’s a really good question and you did put it really well, you’ve clearly
thought about this for a long time and you have some very sophisticated
thoughts about it. It’s true, certainly, and I’m not as familiar with the gaming
world as you practically at all, but I do know that Japanese artists, and
I’ve seen this in anime and another cinema from the East, they are
fascinated with Catholicism. And they often adopt aspects of the aesthetic of
Catholicism; crosses and priests and cassocks and so forth, and divorce it
from the theology of Christianity. I would say I have a limited tolerance for
that sort of thing. I can imagine alternate worlds where history played
out differently, or where Christianity had an influence that became–where the
faith was vestigial and therefore you have certain things that look familiar
even though the theology of Christianity isn’t behind it. I’m more comfortable
with these things when they’re peripheral than when they’re central.
When they start to become a significant element in the story, I do become
uncomfortable, and I would prefer to avoid it at that point. Even if I
wouldn’t outright condemn it, I just find it healthier for my imagination to avoid
the subversion of Christian images in that way. I hope that helps.

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