A golden age for films about Christianity
We live in a golden age of films about religious belief, declared Philip Jenkins in The Christian Century. “A survey of just the past decade reveals multiple presentations that would have to be included in any list of the greatest films ever made about Christianity or on Christian themes,” he wrote, suggesting that increased secularisation in advanced countries has perhaps added to filmmakers’ intrigue in faith.
Notable examples include Of Gods and Men (2010), from France, the champion of secularism, about the heroic monks martyred by jihadis in Algeria. Other examples are The Innocents (2016), also French, which depicts a Polish convent in the aftermath of World War II after many of the nuns have been raped by Soviet soldiers; the Polish film Ida (2013), about a nun discovering her lost Jewish identity; as well as Martin Scorsese’s Silence (2016), about Jesuit martyrs in Japan.
Anti-Catholic cartoonist created modern Santa
The modern idea of Santa Claus was dreamed up by an anti-Catholic cartoonist, according to Zelda Caldwell at Aleteia. Originally, St Nicholas was a 4th-century bishop, who lived in modern-day Turkey and earned a reputation for generosity after word spread that he secretly gave bags of coins to unmarried girls to protect them from being sold into prostitution. The image of a white-bearded, pot-bellied, sleigh-riding, stocking-stuffing Santa was the invention of American political cartoonist Thomas Nast, known for his anti-Catholic drawings (an 1871 cartoon famously depicts bishops as crocodiles devouring children).
The first cartoons of Santa were published as pro-Union propaganda in Harpers Weekly on January 3, 1863, depicting a Jolly St Nick amid Union soldiers. The cartoons became so popular they remained a permanent fixture in the magazine.
Speak for morality – and for the oppressed
At Catholic Culture, Philip Lawler observed that “if you are a competent general, you reinforce your troops at the point of the sharpest attack. You certainly don’t ignore that sector, in the vague hope that the enemy will go away.” The Church has been most fiercely attacked on the point of sexual morality – and “We are losing the battle on sexual morality because we, as a Church, too often are silent on those issues.”
“When we do speak out,” Lawler wrote, “too often we are apologetic. Why? Hasn’t the wisdom of Christian morality been proven, in the painful results of the sexual revolution? Shouldn’t the proponents of secular hedonism be the ones apologising, for the grave damage that has been done to so many thousands of lives, so many thousands of souls?”
The writer David Carlin recently made this point, arguing that Catholics should defend the “fort”. But Lawler said there may be a better image. “Today we should be offering an alternative to the misery of broken homes and families, of emotional and sexual dysfunction.
“It isn’t really a matter of defending our fort, after all. It’s a question of helping oppressed people overthrow the tyranny of a perverse master.”
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