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Posts Tagged ‘Children’

Another great video from Brandon Vogt, geared toward Catholic parents whose children have drifted away from the Church.

For more, visit http://www.helpthemreturn.com.

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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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Father_Daughter

A recent Time magazine article titled “Having It All Without Having Children,” by Lauren Sandler, reflects on American couples’ low fertility rates positively, presenting the child-free married life as something that should be affirmed and welcomed.

Just to be clear, we are not talking about cases where couples are unable to conceive.  What Sandler seems to be talking about is a lifestyle choice.

The idea goes something like this: “Hey, some couples like to have kids, and that’s fine.  But some couples don’t want anything to do with kids; they’d rather take vacations, spend time alone, spend their money on themselves, etc.  And that’s great too!”

Children_of_men_ver4Some might say I’m over-thinking this, but I am reminded of one of my favorite movies, Alfonso Cuarón’s “Children of Men.”  In this dystopian yarn, viewers are confronted with a world in which the worldwide fertility rate is not low…it’s gone.  It has been 18 years since a child has been born, and no one alive is able to conceive.

It has been several years since I saw this movie, but I vaguely remember a quite depressing scene in which one of the characters mentions how empty, how different the world seems without the sound of children’s voices in it.

This is not mere sentimentality.  While children have been viewed differently from culture to culture, from era to era in human history, one thing seems fairly constant: Having children is associated with life, continuity, and hope.

AbrahamIsaacAnd since all aspects of our life in this world point beyond themselves, we can ask ourselves if and how we can get to know God better through our children.  Growing up, we can get to know the fatherhood of God through our parents, to whom we owe the gift of life and from whom we receive nurturing, encouragement, instruction, admonition, etc.  But can parents — and, really, the rest of us — also come to know God through the children they bring into the world, who rely on their elders who have more experience of life, whom parents mold into the people they will become?

I would say yes.  First of all, Christ assumed this state of life in His Incarnation.  Having assumed a human nature, body and soul, he was imbued with a rational human knowledge that had to submit to learning in order to grow (while also receiving from the Divine Person of the Son all truths He was sent to reveal).

But also, Jesus is the Word eternally begotten by the Father.  Note, I did not say “the Word who was once begotten by the Father.”  He is the Begotten One from all eternity, which stands outside of time and space.  He is the Son of God — “ever ancient and ever new,” as St. Augustine of Hippo put it.

In holy splendor before the daystar like dew I begot you (Psalm 110:3)

As an eternal reality, this cannot be fully comprehended by the finite minds of human beings.  Yet creation is a work of the Holy Trinity, and therefore bears marks of the Trinitarian life.  Therefore, the Word of God is reflected in life, vitality, and renewal…especially among humankind, made in God’s image and likeness.

Each individual person uniquely reflects the image of God.  Furthermore, all people are called to become members of the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12: 12-13, 27).  So I think we can say that with new generations coming into existence, we continually experience the inexhaustible newness of Christ.

To have a child, therefore, is a greater blessing, and a greater gift to the world, than any other “perk” marriage might have to offer.

We can criticize Sandler all we want, but I almost wonder if an article like hers could have been published if we had not had a far too utilitarian a view of childbearing for a long time to begin with — that is, we have spoken of it too much in terms of “personal fulfillment.”  Perhaps it is time we attempt to rediscover the true miracle, the true wonder, of human life, and how privileged human beings are to be able to participate in its generation.

Photos from Wikipedia

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Looks pretty cool…

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homealone

Many filmmakers throughout the years have seemed to labor under the impression that children are idiots.

Sorry … I guess that’s a little too harsh.  But there does seem to be a prevalent idea that kids are not “sophisticated” enough to appreciate the beauty of a good work of art — whether that be a story, painting, or any other art form.

Say what you will about “Home Alone,” it is surely not tailored to suit that generalization.

Granted, I am a little biased.  “Home Alone” was one of the first movies I saw in the theater, and it was constant fare for me and my siblings when we bought it on VHS (remember those?).  Needless to say, it is a childhood favorite.

Director Chris Columbus and writer/producer John Hughes worked not only to make this movie entertaining, but also to give it depth and a strong aesthetic quality that cinema buffs could appreciate — you know, the type of quality kids are supposedly unable to “get.”

In my opinion, not only does “Home Alone” operate on the assumption that children can appreciate the aesthetic value of a movie, it also presents it in ways that only children can fully appreciate.

Marley

When I say this, I am thinking, in particular, of the character named “Old Man Marley” (Roberts Blossom), Kevin McCallister’s (Macaulay Culkin) scary next-door neighbor.

At the beginning of the movie, Kevin’s older brother, Buzz (Devin Ratray), tells a story about how Marley murdered his entire family “and half the people on the block” many years earlier, and has since wandered the streets collecting salt to preserve his victims’ mummified bodies.

So we can understand Kevin’s terror at seeing Marley at a grocery store later on in the film, his bloodied fist clothed in a white rag.

Marley_Store

As we watch Kevin backing away from the store counter, his fear becomes ours.  The language of the camera as it very slowly pulls away from Marley’s austere face, the narrow space of the camera frame as Kevin backs away, the use of somewhat darker colors, John Williams’ haunting score…all of these make his fight-or-flight response palpable.

Now, I’m assuming all of my readers are adults, so let’s think about this a minute.  What are the chances that anyone, serial killer or not, would just kill a young child in broad daylight in a public store — and without the least disguise, at that?  As adults, we watch this scene with our sharpened rationality and realize that it requires some serious suspension of disbelief.

Furthermore, if anyone gives credence to Marley’s reputation as a serial killer, I have three simple words: Consider the source.

The only source the audience has is Buzz, an adolescent boy with the maturity of someone half his age … who numbers three items “A, two, and D” instead of “one, two, and three” … who has the unique opportunity to travel to Paris as a young man, yet whose foremost thought is that “the French babes don’t shave their pits.”

But when you’re a kid, you don’t necessarily think about that stuff.  For a child, the scene between Kevin and Marley in the store can be a moment of sheer terror and suspense in a way that it could never be for an adult.

So imagine how a kid might feel later on, when Marley approaches Kevin as he sits by himself in a near-empty church.  This menacing figure whose grasp Kevin has managed to elude successfully thus far is finally closing in.  And when he reaches Kevin, the first words that come out of his mouth are:

“Merry Christmas.  May I sit down?”

homealone_church

The austerity and fear this character has inspired up to this point make what follows all the more touching.  We learn that this is not a dangerous man, but a warmhearted gentleman and grandfather.  We learn that he has experienced pain in his life, and we kind of get the impression that until he met Kevin, he had no one to reach out to about it.

Can a scene like this move anyone of any age?  Sure — it still moves me when I watch it today.  But again, think of how much more striking it must be to someone whose sense of Marley’s dangerousness does not have the filter that we call “suspension of disbelief.”

For this and other reasons, I would name “Home Alone” not only my favorite Christmas movie, but one of my top five favorite films of all time.

May no filmmaker be afraid of being a child at heart, and may no child-at-heart fear to become a filmmaker.

All images obtained through a Google image search.

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