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Posts Tagged ‘Pope Benedict XVI’

 

Noah Poster

Links: Part One, Part Two

Let’s start by briefly outlining the film’s plot:

  1. Noah (Russell Crowe) learns through a dream vision that the Creator is going to destroy the world with water.
  2. He discerns that while the flood cannot be escaped, it “can be survived;” so he and his family get to work on building an ark to save “the innocents” — that is, the animals…who, in the words of young Ila, still “do as they did in the garden (of Eden).”
  3. Noah eventually realizes that the same evil that is in the Sons of Cain, who have spoiled the earth, is dormant in him and his family as well; from this, he deduces that his family’s mission is to save what is left of creation and then die out so that God can begin anew…without humanity.

Let’s stop here for a moment.  Keeping in mind that Noah and his family are kept alive after the Flood, to give not only the world but also humanity a new beginning, we nevertheless do sense an echo of some modern environmentalist modes of thought.  There are those who say that in order to avert impending environmental crises, we must of necessity limit the growth of the human population (via contraception, for example), and in some cases even snuff it out (via abortion, for example).

Whatever the case, the bottom line of this kind of thinking is that mankind is the enemy of creation; and if this enemy doesn’t need to be destroyed, it must at least be crippled.

NaamehIronically, it is the woman of the family who argues against this impulse in “Noah.”  Noah’s wife, Naameh (Jennifer Connelly), urges her husband to see that in spite of the corruption that is undeniably present, there is good to be found in humanity.

I call this ironic because the aforementioned environmentalist approach is often associated with the feminine, while the more pro-human approach is associated with the dominating, conquering masculine principle.  “Noah” reverses the situation entirely, giving the family patriarch the “man-must-die-so-nature-can-survive” initiative.

noah8As counter-intuitive as this might appear, it makes sense; in fact, it’s not really counter-intuitive.  A mother loves her children, and the lives of her children, like no one else can.  A mother’s heart, more than any other, will see the good in her children and fuel zeal for their preservation and flourishing.

Pope BenedictPope Emeritus Benedict XVI often spoke of a “human ecology,” noting that an imbalance in the environment always conduces to the harm of humankind (we can see that, for instance, in that way that certain pollutants affect the health of children with asthma).  And, as we observed in part two, humankind’s failure to flourish negatively impacts the rest of creation.  So it’s not an either-or scenario — it is simply a matter of knowing where things stand in the order of creation.

In a sense, Noah’s first impulse (as depicted in Darren Aronofsky’s film) was right: Man must die if things are to be made right.  But this is not a death of annihilation, nor even primarily of the natural death we all must face.  Rather, as I have argued elsewhere, we must learn to deny the satisfaction of our selfish desires and learn to live for God and neighbor…and, in that context, to be good stewards of the world God has given us.

Christ Crucified by Velazquez

Indeed, our model for this way of living must be no less that Jesus Christ Himself, after the pattern of His complete self-offering on the cross.  And that leads us naturally into our next, and final, topic in reflecting on “Noah.”  Stay tuned.

All “Noah” images obtained through a Google image search; images of Pope Benedict XVI and Christ crucified from Wikipedia

 

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Pope Benedict

I was shocked and saddened yesterday morning to learn that Pope Benedict XVI, Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church, will be resigning from the papacy effective February 28.  As has been mentioned repeatedly, he is the first Pope to do so in almost 600 years (the last Pope to resign was Pope Gregory XII in 1415).

No doubt, many are confused.  They will ask, “Isn’t the Pope a Pope for life?”

As a rule, yes.  But Canon Law does allow for a Pope’s resignation under certain circumstances, and the circumstances His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI has cited qualify.

I have complete faith in the Holy Father’s judgement.  He said his decision was the result of repeated examinations of conscience and based on his sincere conviction that his age (he is 85 years old) and physical deterioration will prohibit him from continuing to fulfill the responsibilities of the Papal office.

True, other Popes have died as occupants of St. Peter’s Chair while quite old and frail (one need only think of the previous Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, for confirmation).  But, as Pope Benedict XVI has noted, the world has changed — and with it the character of the Supreme Pontiff’s responsibilities.

Especially when aggressive secularism threatens the world and ideas contrary to human dignity are widely propagated, the Church needs a strong and fully able leader who will be able to defend the truth not only with words and with personal virtue, but with all his strength (an ability that decreases with age).

I believe the Holy Father may well be responding to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, Who is about to raise up a successor who will prove a force to be reckoned with against the oncoming storm.

My impression of Pope Benedict XVI and his legacy can be summed up like this:

1. He had a unique ability to speak the truth in love.  His unwavering orthodoxy earned him the nickname “God’s rottweiler” as a Cardinal, but I think his gentle and humble manner must have surprised a lot of people.

We shouldn’t be surprised, though.  Our great Catholic Faith recognizes truth and love as the two most fundamental expressions of Who God is.

2. At the same time, as a good pastor, the Holy Father never tired of attending to the deepest hunger of the human heart, which seeks the realization of man’s ultimate purpose — union with God.

3. Like the apostles, he was not afraid to bring God’s answer to the cry of the human heart (that answer is Jesus Christ, by the way) into distant, new and unknown territory — whether this meant traveling all over the map, entering a New York City Synagogue as an honored guest, leading Catholics in prayer at Yankee Stadium, actively dialoguing with the schismatic Society of St. Pius X for the sake of reunion, or braving the “brave new virtual world” of Twitter.

I look forward with excitement to the next chapter in the ongoing saga of Christ’s Pilgrim Church on earth, and I believe that Catholics and all people of good will can and should celebrate the legacy of Pope Benedict XVI during this last month of his Papacy…and for years to come.

Photo from Wikipedia.

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I am a big fan of Brandon Vogt, a popular Catholic blogger, writer, speaker, and advocate for use of the new media.  Every Friday, he holds a “Weekly Giveaway” on his blog.  I can do no better than to share his description:

“Since I’ve built up a large collection of extra books and resources, every week I give some away absolutely free, no strings attached.

“Each giveaway lasts seven days with a new one beginning every Friday. You can enter any time during the week. Check out past giveaways here.

I’m using Rafflecopter to help with the giveaway, which is cool because it allows you to gain multiple entries by commenting, posting on Facebook, sharing on Twitter, etc.”

This week, Brandon is giving away five copies of Pope Benedict XVI’s most recent book, “Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives.”  So if you like to read and you like free stuff, go for it!  Catholics and other Christians should find the book to be a a helpful resource.  Others might find it interesting from a world religions perspective.  Either way, you have nothing to lose!

More from Brandon Vogt:

“The five winners will be randomly selected next Friday and the giveaway item will be sent out, free of charge, shortly thereafter.

In the future I’ll be giving away more books and resources, sometimes multiple items per giveaway! So subscribe via feed reader or email to ensure you never miss your chance to win.

(Since I’m covering the shipping costs, only residents within the continental United States are eligible to win.)

Brandon has given me permission to share his Weekly Giveaways on “Into the Dance” every Friday, so stay tuned for future opportunities.

For more information and for directions on how to enter to win, click here.

Photo from http://www.brandonvogt.com

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