Saturday, December 21
A look back at the big church scandal of the early 1980's: Cardinal Cody's financial mess in Chicago, an article written by the son of one of the original reporters on the story for the Sun-Times
The canvas depicts an upright, beckoning pontiff, and is based on photos from the early 1990s. Shanks said he wanted to show Pope John Paul II in his prime and in his element -- he's depicted in the transept of St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. "(It) represents ... the most profound spirituality I have ever confronted or have felt while painting, owing to the nature of the subject, of course," said Shanks, who is not Catholic. "But also, I think, in terms of the psychological penetration achieved, the integration of the man, his spirituality, and that of the building that he is standing in."
Shanks, 64, of Andalusia, put aside other commissions, including a portrait of former President Bill Clinton, while he worked on the Vatican job for more than 21 months. He wouldn't say how much he was paid for the project.
I’m not a Mel Gibson fan – I don’t hate him and I can see his appeal, but it was really never there for me the way it is for some. But his devotion to this project fascinates me, because you can see two important parts of him at work in it: his faith and his arrogance. Like it or not, in more cases than we like to admit, arrogance (or maybe what is perceived by outsiders as such), bravado and a desire to prove oneself are a vital ingredient in accomplishing Big Things – even in religion, in which humility is a virtue. Humility is a virtue, but in order to do anything substantial, that humility and realistic assessment of ourselves in relation to God and others can and must co-exist with a sense that I can do this thing, and I can do it in a way that no one else can.
But that wasn’t really my point. Here it is: We all know Gibson’s take on faith – at least we know part of it – he has never, to my knowledge, given an in-depth interview on the matter – he’s a Tridentine Catholic who has no truck with post VII Roman Catholicism (his father was deeply involved with these issues).
Now, I ask you – when you think of Tridentine, dissatisfied Catholics what do you think of? Well, I think of my mother, first, who was all of that, but secondly, I think of infighting, backbiting, nitpicking and more or less continual condemnation and defensiveness. I don’t, I’m sorry to say, think of an outward-looking commitment to bring the truth of Jesus to the world at large.
Maybe it’s a lesson for all of us. Churchy types of all stripes spend their hours and spill their ink and waste their bytes arguing over semantics, the niceties of ritual and the precise interpretation of papal bulls, encyclicals and footnotes.
Meanwhile, the Hollywood Guy, who probably feels as strongly about those intricacies as any other who shares his ideology, has decided, instead of going inward, to bring the story of Jesus to a world that needs it, badly, instead.
Maybe Hollywood Guy has a lesson for the rest of us.
An article by Douglas Kmiec, possible nominee for the DC Court of Appeals, concerning "concerns" about his religious faith:
Does someone with this strong embrace of life and family warrant a presidential nomination to the federal bench? That is hardly for me to say, and I am not campaigning for appointment. I like teaching far too much for that, and I fully recognize that judicial service would preclude other counsel that I may now freely share with government leaders in these times of national emergency. I will point out, however, that as Ms. Aron and her counterparts frame the question, it is irrelevant. Transparent moral beliefs and a gratitude for the gift of life may be measures of the quality of a person; they are not, however, the most appropriate or direct yardstick for sizing up a potential federal appellate judge.
Why not an appropriate yardstick? Because disqualifying a person from a federal post on the basis of his religious or moral beliefs cuts deeply against the guarantee of religious freedom secured in the First Amendment; it might even contravene the Article VI admonition that "no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States." And why not a direct yardstick? Because the job of a federal appellate judge is far more straightforward than these intractable issues--issues that, in the end, must be resolved as best we can within our many communities, informed less by top-down government edict than by bottom-up moral, religious and family belief.
The physical and emotional torment, aside, Caviezel nevertheless insists he's thrilled -- no, honoured -- to be part of Gibson's film. "Doing this movie, particularly at this time of year, it's extraordinary," Caviezel says. He also believes it was meant to happen, was almost preordained."I believe there are no coincidences. The fact Mel came to me when I was still 33 years of age [the same age Christ died], there was a reason. I believe that Our Lord meant it. I believe He has a great hand in this film. That's why I'm continually asking Mary for help, to show me the perfect way to be her son."
The film, which will shoot in Italy until February, is clearly a labour of love, as well, for Gibson, describes himself as an old-fashioned Catholic (the former Road Warrior will only attend Mass if it's said in Latin). He has seen the raised eyebrows among his film peers in Los Angeles. He has heard their derision and snickers. Gibson admits the dead-language thing has made it difficult, nay, impossible, to find a distributor. But Gibson, who is both directing and financing the project, has kept faith in his original vision of this biblical drama.
At a press conference in Italy recently, the Academy Award-winning director of Braveheart joked that no U.S. studio wants to touch his movie with a 10-foot pole. "They think I'm crazy," says the action hero of such flicks as Mad Max, Lethal Weapon and The Patriot. "Maybe I am. But maybe I'm a genius. I want to show the film without subtitles. Hopefully it'll be able to transcend the language barriers with visual storytelling." Much of the script, which Gibson co-wrote, is based on the diaries of St. Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824) as collected in the book The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Mary Magdalene will be played by Italian seductress Monica Bellucci. The screenplay was translated into Latin and Aramaic by a Jesuit linguistics scholar based in Los Angeles.
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