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Archive for February, 2014

This is the cinematized version of the segment of last year’s History Channel miniseries “The Bible” covering the life of Christ.  It includes footage not seen in the miniseries, and is designed to be a whole different viewing experience.

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pediatric_cancer

Dr. Gerard Nadal, Science and Health Education Policy Advisor for the Bioethics Defense Fund, shared a personal story on “Catholic Lane” a couple days ago in response to the Belgian Parliament’s recent decision to legalize euthanasia for terminally ill children.

Whatever your stance on this issue, I think you will find that Dr. Nadal brings a valid perspective and good food for thought to the discussion.

http://catholiclane.com/an-american-antidote-for-belgium-euthanizing-children/

Image from Wikipedia

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Yes, I know, Lent is still a few weeks away.  But thought I’d give a heads-up to anyone who is interested.  Here is the place to sign up:

http://www.lentreflections.com/

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And who ever said Catholics don’t know how to lighten up and have fun?

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Olympic ArcheryFor part 1, click here

Okay…so in part 1 we talked about the “playful” gracefulness of athletics, and how this in some ways points to the glory of God and the derivative glory of the human person.  This brings us to the next (more…)

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Olympics_DiscusI must admit that I’ve never been able to get into sports.  I expect this is due mostly to the fact that I never made much of an effort to get involved in them as a child (mea culpa — mea maxima culpa).

But I have long had a kind of detached respect for sporting events, not least of all because of the family and inter-generational bonding they bring about.

Most of the people reading this will probably be watching the 2014 Winter Olympics in a couple days, if not tomorrow night…I’m counting on a number of people skipping the Opening Ceremonies (shame on them).  So perhaps I am a bit late, rather than early, in posting my thoughts the night before.

Nevertheless, here it goes…

Figure Skating

Whenever we look at a good athlete in action, we notice that s/he has a certain poise or grace.  For him/her, the game is not just a “game” in the trivial sense; rather, it is a kind of dance.  The movements of the athlete’s body take on a particular artistry that points beyond itself and has the ability to lift the viewer’s mind toward the transcendent Beauty of the Creator.

Sound strange?  Think of it this way: The art and architecture of the great Gothic and Renaissance cathedrals have been described in the exact same way.  And if the inanimate work of man’s hands can point the mind toward the Creator, how much more the human person himself, the Crown of God’s creation?

PallasFor that reason, I find it interesting that the Olympic Games originated in Ancient Greece.  First of all, the ancient Greeks had an artistic tradition dedicated to the glory of the human person (particularly in their sculptures) that was virtually unrivaled in the ancient world.  Secondly, they enjoyed an even greater reputation for their love of wisdom (exemplified in the Great Philosophers of that time and culture).  Why do I find that part interesting?  Here’s why:

Then was (Wisdom) beside (God) as his craftsman, and … was his delight day by day, Playing before him all the while, playing on the surface of his earth; and found delight in the sons of men (Proverbs 8: 30-31 — italics mine)

Jesus_LogosGod’s very Wisdom — His Logos, or Word — became incarnate in Jesus Christ, Who became a human being like one of us, so to raise humanity to new life.  In athletics (“playing”), we are able in some way to imitate the playfulness of this same Eternal Word.

Outside of Israel itself, ancient Greece might very well have had the most important role in preparing the world for the Gospel — both because of its love of wisdom and because of its various explorations of the glory, complexity, and ambiguity of the human person in art, drama, poetry, and other forms of expression.

Considering the original role of the Olympics as a religious ceremony in honor of the Olympian gods, we should also consider the fact that these gods were human in appearance (unlike the deities of some other ancient cultures, which were depicted in the shapes of beasts).  Such worship was idolatry indeed…but hidden within this error, I can’t help but think that there may have been some anticipation of the advent of glorified humanity in Christ.

Anyway, that’s my theological “rabbit trail” for tonight.

There are a couple more points I want to make about the Olympics and athletics, but I’ll take the risk of waiting until the Opening Ceremonies to conclude my thoughts (like I said, I am counting on some people skipping these :)).  Thanks for reading.

Images from Wikipedia

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From what I understand, this film was out in limited release last year, but has just gotten a wider release in the last week or so.  Haven’t seen it yet, but it is well within my radar.

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The_ImpossibleFor the first post, click here

Having taken an in-depth look at the primary mother-son relationship in J.A. Bayona’s “The Impossible,” I wanted to share a couple of other observations as well.

GERALDINE_CHAPLIN_STARSIn a separate strand of the narrative, we have the two younger boys, Thomas and Simon, in a refugee camp.  One starry night, the older boy, Thomas, meets an older English woman (Geraldine Chaplin) who tells him that the stars we see in the sky are actually the stars of the distant past.  They died a long time ago, but they shone so brightly that their light still reaches us.

“It seems impossible, doesn’t it?” the woman asks.

Annunciation

Going back to the Virgin Mary a moment: We can say, along with the archangel Gabriel in his Annunciation of Mary’s virginal conception of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit:

…nothing will be impossible for God. (Luke 1:37 — emphasis mine)

Like all things great and small, the dead stars whose light illumines our nights communicates the self-effacing, yielding power of God in sustaining and redeeming His creation.  That one of the very supreme instances of this power happened in a Mother’s Womb is significant, given our analysis in the first post.

bennett_family_impossibleAnd finally, a more general note.  Any time a catastrophic flood is the subject of a narrative, the Great Flood of Genesis inevitably comes to mind.  The connection here is a little bit vaguer; but weak as it might be, the connection can be summed up in two alliterative words: Flood and family.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Human beings are fallen creatures.  When things are going well, we have a tendency to settle into our selfish ways (think of Lucas Bennett on the airplane at the beginning of the film, when he is being a typical rude teenager).  Sometimes, it can take a catastrophe to shake us out of ourselves.

Sure, disasters can pit us against one another.  But they can also make us more aware of our interdependence and common humanity.  And they can strengthen familial bonds, as great trial can make us realize afresh the irreplaceable importance of family.

NoahsSacrificeThat’s where the story of Noah and the Great Flood becomes relevant.  When we read this classic story, we notice that the very same Flood that destroys the world renews it (renewal is a property of water, after all).  In Noah, his wife, his three sons, and their wives, humanity is given a new beginning…and it all begins with the family.

Why?  Because the family is a living image of the Blesséd Trinity, the eternal communion of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, the God for Whom the human heart is made.

And why do even disaster and tragedy have the potential to bring light to this aspect of human existence?  Let me answer that question with an image:

Christ Crucified by VelazquezThe Second Person of the Blesséd Trinity, in Whom the dying stars that share their light with the world so many years later were made, the Eternal Son of the Eternal Father, has assumed all suffering and catastrophe unto Himself, so that in and through these things we might have the inexpressible privilege of touching His precious wounds…indeed, of sharing in these saving wounds ourselves, so as to take on a salvific role for others.

In conclusion, I would highly recommend “The Impossible.”  It is a well-done film, a testament to the triumph of the human spirit, and a work of art that speaks to the human heart in very profound ways.

“Impossible” poster and Biblical images from Wikipedia; remaining images obtained through a Google Image search

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