August 29, 2012


Review of "Cosmic Origins" DVD
(Ignatius Press)

Got atheists? Atheist friends or family, that is? The “stellar” new DVD “Cosmic Origins” might help! Today’s top scientists (many award-winning) weigh in on the mysterious origins of our universe (and a possible beyond). Old and new cosmological theories are presented, leading up to the possibility of an “intelligent Designer.” But the film—being mostly a scientific exploration/explanation--doesn’t harp on “intelligent design,” which, as Cardinal George tells us, belongs more to the realm of philosophy rather than either science or religion. Physics is juxtaposed with a brief consideration of metaphysics. One does not feel bamboozled or railroaded by a sudden “attack” of “religious thought” at the end, where Jesuit priest Robert Spitzer (Magis Institute for Faith & Reason) introduces the concept of a harmonious relationship between science and belief.

The tone is one of informative scientific updating (for the layperson, but without talking down to us). Definitely not an “apologetics” tone. I try to keep up with the latest scientific findings (especially regarding cosmology), but I learned a lot from this film.

The format is diverse: footage of the universe, graphics, interviews, more than one live host, “man-in-the-street” opinions, etc. “Cosmic Origins” never lags. There is a conspicuous presence of young adults (especially the “man-in-the-street” insets, but although it personalizes all the information, I will eat my veil if these AREN’T scripted actors which smacks of inauthenticity. Too bad the filmmakers couldn’t have gotten REAL reactions). Atheism is the fastest growing “religion” among young adults and the “New Atheism” movement is eagerly proselytizing these young minds and hearts. “Unaffiliated” is becoming the preferred category for young adults under “Religion” when filling out forms.

Carl Sagan wanted the average person to be informed about science and was frustrated by what he deemed Americans’ “celebration of ignorance!” Famous “new atheist,” Richard Dawkins, held the position of Oxford’s “Professor of Public Understanding of Science” from 1995 to 2008, which is a lovely-sounding title that I’m all for. However, scientists also need to understand that not everyone is interested in understanding how things work or even the scientific explanation of the origins of the universe. And it can be argued that the average person does not even NEED to know these things to flourish. It could be argued that the average person WOULD benefit much more from knowing what, say, another type of scientist, that is, a medical doctor, knows! Also, we all have our own specialties. Does Dawkins know what a mechanic knows? Can he fix his own car? Sometimes, scientists have a kind of hubris, demanding that everyone bow down to their discipline/field as THE MOST IMPORTANT THING ON EARTH.

The universal longing for love, meaning, fulfillment, self-understanding, connection with others, etc., trumps the desire for and acquisition of practical/functional knowledge every time. But this is still not an excuse to be a willful ignoramus. At least be curious about God’s astounding Creation, OK, believers? This might be the first bridge towards reaching atheistic scientists and their followers who ONLY have science (many eschew philosophy along with theology).

One scientist in the film sums it all up by stating that science MUST be open to ALL possibilities, so why not the possibility of a Designer? OR , as Scott Hahn says, at a certain point, a Creator/Designer IS the most logical answer, but because the atheistic-scientific bias and agenda is pre-set, we get the “anything but God” answers, theories, etc.

FEATURED SCIENTISTS: Lisa Randall, Jennifer Wiseman, John Polkinghorne, Owen Gingerich, Stephen Barr, Arno Penzias, Michael Heller

For more information and fancy screening packages:  (distributed by Ignatius Press).

Full disclosure: This film is a production of Barbara Nicolosi’s (my good friend) production company, “Origins Entertainment.” But do you think she even told me about this project?


Two other (flawed) films that I highly recommend for those interested in the  atheism/evolutionism/
creationism debates:
--“Expelled” documentary (Ben Stein’s sheer propaganda for the “creationist” position) My review:
--“Religulous” documentary (Bill Maher’s sheer propaganda to support his position which is that he really, really, really hopes there’s no God) My review:

And here are two very UNflawed DVDs:
--“Creation or Evolution?” VISION VIDEO  Explains general theory of evolution, various particular theories of evolution, macro/micro- evolution. Protestant but consonant with Catholic understandings.
--“Theology of the Body and Evolution” Dr. Richard Sternberg

--“There Is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind” Anthony Flew
--“The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief” Francis S. Collins
--“Atheist to Catholic: How Scientists and Philosophers Led Me to the Catholic Church” by Kevin Vost
--“Answering the New Atheism” by Scott Hahn and Benjamin Wiker (written by Hahn and Wiker for 4 Franciscan Univ. Steubenville students led astray by Dawkins’ “The God Delusion.” It brought ‘em back.)
--“Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis (a very small book that has been giving atheists pause for decades!)
--“Atheist Delusions” by David Hart (Orthodox) goes deeply into the atheist mindset and assumptions
--“Can a Smart Person Believe in God?” by Michael Guillen, award-winning Harvard physics prof
--“Faith of the Fatherless—the Psychology of Atheism” by Dr. Paul Vitz
--“The Drama of Atheist Humanism” by Henri de Lubac. What has been atheism’s historical track record? (atheist regimes)
--“Philosophers Who Believe—the Spiritual Journeys of 11 Leading Thinkers”
--"God and Evolution--Science Meets Faith" by Dr. Gerard Verschuuren

Nancy Pearcey, John Polkinghorne, Stanley Jaki, Eric Cornell, Robert Augros, Lorenzo Albacete, Francis Collins

--“God Is Dead” Fr. Pontifex debunks certain atheism claims (with stats of millions killed by atheistic governments)
--Fr. Barron on the New Atheism:

--C.S. Lewis--British author, Oxford English professor
--Jacques & Raissa Maritain--French philosophers
--Alisdair MacIntyre—Scottish philosopher
--Anthony Flew—British philosopher (edits philosophical encyclopediae)
--Francis S. Collins—American physician-geneticist, head of the Human Genome Project, present head of National Institutes of Health (NIH)
--Sally Read—famous young British poet
--Leah Libresco--famous young American atheist blogger

OTHER STUFF: =Vatican’s dialogue among science/faith/philosophy (The Pontifical Academy of Sciences, to which Galileo belonged, also has atheists in its ranks like Stephen Hawking.)

--“Light becomes matter”? Whaaa--? If I heard correctly, the Big Bang was, like, this, like, explosion of light photons which, like, BECAME matter? Whaaaa---? I need professional scientific help. My brain is melting.

--Noted Atheist Philosopher Thomas Nagel: "Defenders of Intelligent Design Deserve Our Gratitude"

In September, Oxford University Press officially releases the hardcover version of a new book by renowned philosopher Thomas Nagel at New York University. It's a bombshell.
Already available on Kindle, Nagel's book carries the provocative title Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False. You read that right: The book's subtitle declares that "the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False." Nagel is an atheist who is not convinced by the positive case for intelligent design. But he clearly finds the evidence for modern Darwinian theory wanting. Moreover, he is keenly appreciative of the "iconoclasts" of the intelligent design movement for raising a significant challenge to the current scientific orthodoxy.

August 22, 2012


So what's so bad about porn?

It's an ADDICTION. DO NOT GET STARTED WITH PORN. You are not stronger than porn. You can't just dabble. It's NOT mind over matter. We are not wired that way.

DO NOT GET STARTED WITH PORN. You will not be able to stop. You will need bigger and bigger thrills. It will take up all your time and attention. You will lose interest in everything else.

PORN IS MORE ADDICTIVE THAN CRACK COCAINE because the body gets addicted to its own chemicals.


Persons--who are the sacred image of God--can never be used.

Even if they want to be.

This includes the porn-user who uses their own body as they use porn. (So even if the IMAGES are CGI, the porn user is using their own body.)

The opposite of love is not hate. It is use: using persons as things, as means to an end. Using persons is against human dignity.

The body is for total, committed, real, true love and relationship.

Porn, plain and simple, is an addiction that destroys true love, and/or makes it impossible. Divorce lawyers are citing it as one of the major factors in more and more break-ups.

Porn also destroys real sex (does not "add spice") because the porn user conditions themselves to respond to images, not real persons. (Addictions never enhance anything anyway, they only detract, distract, damage and destroy.)

Sex (of whatever kind) outside of the marriage relationship is ADDICTIVE (bigger and bigger thrills are needed). Sex within the marriage relationship is BONDING, person to person (and satisfying because sex is about much more than only pleasure within the marriage bond. The human person has the capacity for Infinity within themselves, and male/female committed to each other in true love and true sex, can experience something of the Infinite).

Just like any other addiction, you will never be "cured." You will be in "recovery" for the rest of your life and have to be very careful about all your media use, memory, imagination, what you do with your eyes on a minute-to-minute basis. 

DO NOT GET STARTED WITH PORN. No one PLANS on getting addicted. Porn addicts say: "If only I had KNOWN this was an addiction, I would never have gotten started." Well, now you know. 

Remember, the two hallmarks of addicts are 1) DENIAL  2) DON'T TOUCH MY ADDICTION.


--Theology of the Body, (hipster sites) (free, anonymous online counseling based on the latest brain science, sponsored by the Diocese of Green Bay, WI--based on the secular website) Lots of information on this site to get started. (Matt Fradd) Tweet: #freebattleplan for a free e-book! 

--Tabor Life Institute Trains men how to "see" women properly. Teaches everyone how to "see" the human body properly. (Fr. Thomas Loya's institute) 

--"The Interior Gaze: A Remedy for 'Pornovision' and Lust" DVD (Fr. Thomas Loya)

-- (Catholic, based on the latest science and secular site: )

--Sexaholics Anonymous (or a Catholic therapist). SA is also for porn addictions. They use 12 steps and words like "sober."

--Anonymous online-help to retrain the porn-user to use internet well:

GROUPS FOR MEN TO JOIN TO BE ACCOUNTABLE, FIGHT PORN, HELP OTHER MEN: (Catholic) (Catholic)  P.erpetually O.ffering R.osaries N.ightly    Twitter: @pornmilitia 

--Vid of young woman explaining how she got started:

--"What I Wish I Knew Before I Started Using Porn"  (from a woman who works in Hollywood)

--Audrey Assad's journey from porn use to freedom: (AUDIO)

--My review of "Magic Mike":



--Kid shares how he overcame porn use:

--Great porn-fighting tips e-newsletter for parents/grandparents

--Book to read with kids: "Good Pictures, Bad Pictures"

C-Close my eyes immediately
A-Always tell a trusted adult
N-Name it when I see it

D-Distract myself
O-Order my thinking brain to be the boss! (the boss of my feeling brain)



--You need a company that installs it from cyberspace, not you, so no one in your family can change it. Geeks must install custom-made filters for each other because they can easily hack these filters. (I was told this by a geek.) (collection of ALL different types of safe software for families to choose from) (This is a very funky, youth-oriented, activist website.) The company emails questionable sites you've surfed (on a particular computer) to an accountable buddy (or girlfriend or spouse) (Christian) (for Mac or PC)


In-depth NYTimes article about youth and SEXTING. Cases, laws, repercussions - 


--"Somebody's Daughter"--2008, testimonies of men in recovery (Christians). Doesn't give much advice or any resources, but is a portrait of porn addiction from the inside out. Includes a pastor and a couple. Very moving. Since they're not Catholic, they don't have the full, beautiful vision of sexuality and Theology of the Body, but it's still a must see. Includes two powerful music videos and some dramatizations. DVD jacket includes the "25 Lies of Pornography" 

--"The Interior Gaze--A Remedy for Pornovision and Lust"--Byzantine Catholic priest and artist, Fr. Thomas Loya, demonstrates through design and art how to "see" the beauty of the human body as God intended. 

--"Out of the Darkness" 4 in-depth interviews with a former porn star, a former porn addict, a psychologist and an Alfred Kinsey expert. Excellent! (2011)

--"Face the Darkness, Illuminate the Night," brand new, comprehensive DVD series on porn. Includes interviews with Christopher West. (Not completed yet!)

--"Fireproof"--drama about a fireman whose marriage is on the rocks, partly because of his internet porn use. 

--DVDs for teens: "The Pure Life" by Jason and Crystalina Evert. This series aired on EWTN. NOT hokey, totally fast-paced, in-your-face, relevant, comprehensive. Teen panel. Covers porn, dating, dress, what teens really want, Theology of the Body, media, etc., etc. EXCELLENT! (Also, just check YouTube channel: "jasonevert"

--"Detox" Jason Evert

YouTube: (Jason Evert on porn)

--"The Pornography Plague and the Path to Christian Purity," Jeff Cavins (Catholic) 

--"Cybersex and the Priesthood--Sex, Shame, Addiction," Fr. Stephen Rossetti, PhD, D. Min. (Catholic)

--"Winning the Battle for Sexual Purity," (talk to men) Christopher West (also on DVD). (Catholic)


The best, most complete book on porn you'll every read. Busts 24 myths about porn.
Loaded with a bazillion stats and studies.

This book is a must-read for every human being on the planet. The beauty of it is that it doesn't start with or dwell on porn, even. It backs it up to the most basic level of eyes/mind. Written by Evangelical men who struggled with purity issues of all kinds, it's the most practical, down-to-earth, detailed step-by-step battle plan for victory. Chockful of stories and examples.
Women who don't believe that men are actually biologically wired visually and wired differently sexually desperately need to read this book. Women who don't understand how male sexuality works need to read this book.
Women and wives also have their say in this book. Men never blame women in this book. You must read the book to the END to get the full vision of men and women together. The last section (right before the workbook at the end for use in men's groups) is one of the most beautiful descriptions of what marriage is supposed to be (from a man's perspective: the duties of husbands towards wives). This is Theology of the Body at its most helpful.

--"Delivered"--stories of men and women who overcame porn, by Matt Fradd

--"Cleansed"--life after porn by Texas A&M University campus minister, Marcel LeJeune

--"Drug of the New Millennium--The Brain Science Behind Internet Pornography Use" by Mark Kastleman

--"I Surrender All--Rebuilding a Marriage Broken by Pornography"--Christian singer, Clay Crosse, and his wife Renee's story

--"The Courage to Be Chaste," by Fr. Groeschel, CFR. A modern classic. Lots of practical tips. 

--"Clean of Heart, Overcoming Habitual Sins Against Purity," by Rosemarie Scott (Forward by Fr. John Harvey, OSFS, founder of Courage) 

--"True Knights: Christian Husbands, Father and Sons," by Kenneth Henderson and Jesse Romero 

--"Porn Nation," sad but true story of how one man had it all and lost it all through internet porn when the internet was brand new. (Author has been on "Oprah," and debates against pro-porn advocates on college campuses.) Scary predictions for future.

--"The Hook and I" by David Cannan. Catholic 12 Steps for porn (a friend of mine in recovery swears by this book)

-- (Catholic) What To Do About Porn--Part I" article from and on step-by-step what to do about porn if husband addicted. Also some current stats. 2010) 

--Dr. Philip Mango (NYC) Dr. Phil Mango is a licensed Catholic psychotherapist from New York, director of St. Michael's Institute for the Psychological Sciences; founder of Warrior Brothers- focused on leadership and manhood development for service to family, Church and society; and visiting professor at the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family. For more than 12 years, he served as mental health consultant for Mother Teresa's work with the poor. Dr. Mango combines John Paul II's theology of the body with psychology to effectively minister to men and women seeking to overcoming sexual and pornographic addictions and develop healthy relationships with the opposite sex. He has extensive experience treating PTSD with the most effective treatment known, EMDR- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. Areas of Expertise: PTSD, post-abortive, marital healing, masculine spirituality, psychology of the sexes, founder of Available to speak at your parish or event.

--Fr. Thomas Loya (Chicago) "Seeing One Another Rightly"--This group uses Sexaholics Anonymous 12 Step Principles combined with Theology of the Body. Blog:

WEBSITES: All the facts and stats. Free and confidential help for all sexual addictions (help for family members, those in ministry, etc.). Sponsored by Diocese of Green Bay, WI and based on the latest brain science from  Young adult website. Swag and merch available. Lots of helpful, short, shareable articles and vids!


- ("Don't Believe the Lies" video by guys in a LifeTeen group in Rhode Island. Very moving!)


Dear God, I ask Your help divine
whenever I must go online.
I tell myself that I love "art,"
their sculpted forms, my heavy heart.

As I get lost in cyberspace
and go from face to nameless face,
behind each image, there's a life,
there's someone's husband, someone's wife.

Perhaps a son or daughter, too,
God, if their families only knew
As I'm drawn in to search the net,
it's all too easy to forget

the way my actions take their toll--
they slowly work to kill my soul.
Its essence surely must erode
with every image I download.

Please rescue me from what I do.
Please help me want to stop it, too.
Obsession lifted, I'll stand free,
surrendering my will to Thee.

--written by a Catholic woman in recovery from the S/m lifestyle



August 20, 2012


MARY, THE WAY OF HOPE            
from the Catholic Archbishop of Damascus
(Muslims joined Christians for celebration of the Assumption!)

It is with anxiety and bitterness that the small Syrian people carry, since March 2011, alone and with courage a so heavy nightmare while waiting for "Simon of Cyrene" ...
To the blind violence, hatred and lack of dialogue.
To the indifference or impotence of the international community this small people turned towards prayer the only and ultimate refuge

On the other side and on the spiritual level and, especially around the Marian shrines, friends have mobilized chains of prayers for the peace in Syria: Our Lady of (Lourdes, Fatima, Fourvière, Walsingham, Laus, Montligeon, Amesterdam, La Salette, Puy,Medjegure, Altotting, Knock, Chateaurima,
Czestochowa, Montreal, Lorette, des Neiges, Guadalupe, du Bac, Seville, Kazan.
 and many others …)
Sick people have offered prayers and pains for peace in Syria …
From these powerful pilgrimage places is emerging a force along, with many "Simon of Cyrene" to help carry the cross and take the road....
Thank you for this beautiful spontaneous solidarity coming from afar to manifest the catholicity of the Church, we must see the work of the Providence, who is not leaving Syria alone in these painful days.

This support of Marian character joins the strong Eastern devotion to Mother of God, connected from one side to the Gospel by a YES that has transformed the History, and connected from the other side by the believers in Jesus- Eucharist who makes the Church. MARY was the guide since the dawn of Christianity. 
On August 15th, 2012, at 18.00 and despite the rather tense situation, many faithful came to the liturgy of the Assumption.
These faithful prostrated before the altar of the Martyrs of Damascus, having one voice, dedicating Syria to the Immaculate Heart of MARY, our surest way of hope.
This pious demarche is towards forgiveness and reconciliation.
To our surprise many Muslims took part in the ceremony.

"HERE IS YOUR MOTHER ..." Jn 19:27
In front of this crisis with no end nor mercy who is putting into question the future and survival of the Christian minority, the Church turns to the Mother of God to draw courage and strength to witness to the Gospel and to facilitate a respectful dialogue with Islam a majority closing a month of fasting that was well bloody. Mary who is venerated in the Koran (Sura Mariam) could be the architect of the so desired Marian peace reconciliation ...
From the bottom of the misery and suffering flows a Hope, a Light ...
Summer 2012                                            + Samir NASSAR                                                         Maronite Damascus Archbishop's


"It is true that the creature loves less because she is less. But if she loves with her whole being, nothing is lacking where everything is given. To love so ardently then is to share the marriage bond; she cannot love so much and not be totally loved, and it is in the perfect union of two hearts that complete and perfect marriage consists. Or are we to doubt that the soul is loved by the Word first and with a greater love?"
(St. Bernard of Clairvaux)

This Theology of the Body moment has been brought to you by Sr. Julia Mary Darrenkamp, fsp, who finds the most amazing images and quotes on the planet!

August 12, 2012


“Hope Springs” (not to be confused with “Hope Floats”) is yet another PG-13 film that should have been rated R. It is filled with mature, graphic sex talk and visuals--although there is no nudity and everything happens clothed (hard to explain). It’s almost a sex farce, but actually more of a tragicomedy. Definitely for adults.

Kay (the indescribably, superlatively fabulous Meryl Streep) and Arnold (Tommy Lee Jones in his best role ever?) are empty-nesters in a relationship with barely a pulse. Arnold appears to be satisfied with things as they are, but Kay is determined that things must change. She signs them up for an intensive couples counseling week with Dr. Feld (a serious Steve Carell). And it’s hard. Years of built-up “scar tissue” needs to be acknowledged, articulated, removed. It’s one step forward and two steps backward.

There’s an “any kind of sex” within marriage* goes ethos (even though this is a pretty conservative couple). Aside from the approval and occasional follow-through of fast and loose sexual mores WITHIN marriage, a deep connection is otherwise maintained between the couples’ physical intimacy and emotional intimacy, without which the marriage is just a “marriage license” and “sharing of bills to be paid.” Both intimacies must come alive again. In a Kay and Arnold way. And in a Theology of the Body way, men and women have different needs, and even as mousy Kay “initiates” the initial action, it’s Arnold, the bridegroom, who MUST sweep her off her feet again or risk losing her forever.

The genius of this film is that there are NO BIG EVENTS. NO BIG REVEALS. NO DEEP, DARK SECRETS. There are no harsh words, no screaming, no throwing things, no ultimatums. The increments of dramatic movement are small and organic. Simple, linear A-story progression. How DO you get the magic back? And what if one partner is less willing than the other to even try?

As wonderful as Meryl Streep is, this is Tommy Lee Jones’ movie all the way. His delivery and timing is beyond perfect. Who knew he had a role like this in him? I wouldn’t be surprised at an Oscar nod.
This film may help those in troubled marriages to realize their marriage is definitely worth working on with everything they’ve got. And the road will be rocky for both sides.

This film screams: Nothing, nothing is more important than a marriage. Your marriage. Marriage.
*"Any kind of sex" as long as it's within marriage and both partners are willing, is not OK. The integrity of the sexual act (or, in TOB: the marital embrace) must always be respected. For nitty-gritty Q & A: "Good News About Sex and Marriage" book by Christopher West.


--Unusual to see such a dutiful, almost 1950’s, kept-down type of wife being portrayed. Sometimes that felt a bit unrealistic, even though these women certainly do still exist today. But this shrinking violet turns out to be a steel magnolia in her tenacity: not in order to achieve some kind of “self-realization,” but in order that her marriage be a “real” marriage again. She reminds me of an older woman and her husband I had supper with who now teach marriage prep. She told her husband at a certain point in their marriage: “We can have more.” And they set about becoming and getting that “more.”

--SCREENWRITING STRUCTURE’S “KARMIC QUESTION” IN ACT ONE: “CAN you change your marriage?” Kay’s friend says, “no.”

--It was great to follow just one couple’s journey without being able to look away (compared to the slapstick, silly and uninstructive “Couples’ Retreat”).

--Lots of laughs.

--Screenwriter is a woman: Vanessa Taylor!

--Meryl Streep: how women can grow old beautifully and gracefully.

--The renewal of vows! We show our love in the little things.

--“Sometimes when a connection is lost we forget how to want one another.” –Dr. Feld

--“Marriages often have several whole bad years.” –Dr. Feld

--Kay articulates the real reason masturbation is not OK!

-- "Why Men Have Trouble with Intimacy"  (great article, and what "Hope Springs" is really all about!)  

--People sometimes ask me: Do you go to movies in your habit? Yes, because I believe "the Church" has to be where the people are, and the Church desperately needs to be more VISIBLE especially in the ARTS. People rarely ask me what I'm doing or what I thought of a film (I sometimes ask others on the way out). They can see me scribbling during the entire film, so it's kind of obvious I'm "studying" the film in some way. I think nuns should be EVERYWHERE, and I think they used to be--back in the heyday of teaching nuns when Sisters had to know a lot about a lot of things in order to teach about them. (Same for medical Sisters.)

One of our Sisters is studying art and interior design at the Illinois Institute of Art here in Chicago. She is in with all ages of students who accept her as one of their peers. Her professors are the ones who are really fascinated. She explains the mission of our congregation (to evangelize with and through media) and they're even more fascinated. This Sister has had many conversations about God and religion and was able to bring a long-time fallen away architect back to her Catholic Faith. :]

--Was I even a little embarrassed sitting there in my habit (toward the front of the theater) at this movie? Yes. Once I realized that a good portion of the show would be about sex (all in the context of marriage counseling and trying to save a marriage). But 1) I didn't know ahead of time 2) movie reviewing is my job/ministry 3) it was "PG-13" 4) I still believe "the Church" needs to be present 5) it was handled well for the most part 6) sex (being talked about or somewhat portrayed in film) is not a dirty or bad thing (although I believe in very definite limits about what should be portrayed ever, at all) and the realistic balance of body/soul in a marriage relationship was well-captured 7) there was absolutely nothing titillating about the sex talk/visuals. This was an older, awkward couple, and, again, the film is a bit of a sex farce, but not a crude one.

--I believe it’s important to ALWAYS lay out and reiterate MORALITY, MORAL NORMS (e.g., when they are missing, misrepresented, transgressed, etc., in films), especially today because people don’t even know what’s moral/immoral any more. But at the same time, I don’t want to condemn the truly HUMAN. Even if it’s not the BEST of the human. Even if it’s the STRIVING and FAILING human. Grace builds on nature. Yes, let’s call a sin a sin, but let’s not stop seeing the HUMAN, the PERSON beneath the sin. And what CAN be. And what CAN be transformed. The HUMAN that can be transformed.

I will not condemn the truly human. God created human beings good. Even angelic and human sin has not changed that. Luther and Calvin were wrong when they believed that the Fall made us fundamentally bad now. This is NOT the Catholic belief. We are good, inclined to the bad, not bad inclined to the good. The Fall darkened our intellect (MIND), weakened our will  (WILL), and disordered our passions/desires (HEART), but did not make us “utterly depraved.” Everyone is born with original sin which Baptism removes (but we still feel the effects of original sin). Humans are capable of incredible evil, and mixed with the demonic (fallen angelic), even greater evil. But the human can always be redeemed (not so, the demonic). God became incarnate into “human stuff” and it is the “human stuff” that He redeems, body and soul, as it is.

When people are truly clueless, the culpability for sin is mitigated. True, people have consciences, but tell me, who is forming young and not so young people’s consciences today? There is a huge void here (and has been for decades in America), and people’s consciences are unformed, malformed and deformed. People think conscience means: “I do what I think best.” (But conscience is conforming ourselves objectively to God’s Revelation and then being able, subjectively, to hear God’s voice within and apply His Revelation to our lives and particular circumstances.) When we watch films made by non-believers, featuring non-believing actors playing non-believing characters, I believe we must rejoice when they get it right! How can they possibly get it right? God is at work in them whether they know it or not. The mind was MADE for the TRUTH, the will was MADE for the good WAY, the heart was MADE for the LIFE of love. We shouldn’t be TOO surprised when people get it right. (BTW, this is Blessed Fr. James Alberione’s “Jesus, the Divine Master: the Way, the Truth and the Life” spiritual method. The whole Christ to the whole person. The whole person [MIND, WILL, HEART] to the whole Christ.)

“Bad Catholic” (Franciscan University of Steubenville’s wunderkind student blogger, Marc Barnes) posted this yesterday. It is probably the most accurate, in-depth description of Millennial (the cohort) depravity and debauchery by a Millennial (WARNING: it’s very “rough” language). If you want to read it, listen to the SPIRITUAL PAIN. What I would love to tell the band (Titus Andronicus) is this: 

“OK. I get that you’ve tried everything and you’re jaded and disgusted. I hate to disillusion you, but you do not have a corner on sinning: we’re all sinners. I’m sorry if you thought you were special. Now, what are you going to do about it? Cry in your soup? Is there any hope for you? To Jesus through Mary. They are not afraid of human muck. They can turn you around in the twinkling of an eye. 

August 11, 2012


August 3, 2012


After reading my review, you may wanna hop down to see an in-depth conversation with some level-headed, movie-loving, movie-going parents who saw MK and are very concerned about the "underwear scene." Some serious food for thought. After much consdiration, I agree with them. The underwear scene and then upskirt shot of the 12-year-old girl crawling into the tent goes to far. And mars the entire film.

“Moonrise Kingdom” is a tasty escape into an ordinary-magical world of a quirky bunch of pre-teens and their families in 1965. MK is highly-stylized, deeply-amusing and incredibly well-cast: Bill Murray! Edward Norton! Frances McDormand! Bruce Willis! Tilda Swinton! Jason Schwartzman! Harvey Keitel! Just sit back and enjoy. The always unexpected writer-director Wes Anderson (Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, Fantastic Mr. Fox) gives us a more-deadpan-than-“Napoleon Dynamite” romantic comedy. Involving twelve year olds.

Set on the New England coast, two precocious (but not precious), oddball pre-teens find each other, and it’s love at first sight. So, what else should they do but elope? The boy (Sam) is a “Khaki Scout,” the girl (Suzy), a binocular-wielding reader of fantasy books. They are barely beyond the boys-are-yucky and girls-have-cooties stage, but they are definitely “in love” to the extent that young people of this tender age can be. They act and talk like they’re twelve going on thirty-seven—not because they’re trying so hard, but because that’s really how they feel. And they have something so special between them.

The way they look at each other is what John Paul II (in his Theology of the Body) would call “the peace of the interior gaze.” There is no lusting, there is no grasping or the base kind of self-centered physical excitement: just a deep penetration into each other’s souls. They seem to know each other already, even though they must make this knowing explicit by constant communication, questioning and explaining of themselves.

It gets a bit sexual at one point, but in a truly innocently curious way. Yes, you wouldn’t want young people getting the wrong idea that this is what they should be doing, or that this is even “normal” at twelve years old, but of course, young people, especially girls, are physically maturing earlier and earlier, and living in our “pornified” culture, they are exposed to so much (often perverse) sexuality so young. What MK portrays is neither pornified nor perverse. It is probabaly akin to how precocious young people might have experienced puberty in the past. What exactly transpires? SPOILER ALERT: When they wind up in their underwear after jumping into the lake: they try French kissing, Sam feels Suzy’s flat chest (Suzy is wearing a flat bra), Suzy notices that Sam is “hard” when they hug. That’s about it. It’s handled very naturally and somewhat discreetly. What might be "cute, funny or sweet" to adults could give younger people ideas to try to imitate. It’s parents’ call whether your child “needs” to see this. There's also which eliminates objectionable scenes/language in films so that the whole family can watch a movie together at home. (As a film purist, I hate seeing films butchered this way, but if you've got kids? This will often be the only way you can watch films as a family.) This film will, however, encourage kids to: be themselves, pursue hobbies, not follow the crowd, express themselves (in a "don't hide your light" type of way), and be kind and loyal.

The set direction is like something from “Mad Men,” i.e., a meticulous re-creation of the 1960’s: phonographs, TANG, model planes, everyone READS, everyone smokes, the switchboard operator lady. Everyone knows who they are, what they are, what’s expected of them, and social norms are taken very much for granted and more or less enthusiastically embraced. But the human “unknown” factor bubbles up everywhere. People are weird. People are unique. People DON’T fit. And ultimately, the people in “Moonrise Kingdom” are OK with that and give each other some breathing room.

There are many wonderful, wonderful themes for young people (and everyone else). It’s NOT the same old overused: “It’s OK to be different!” “We should respect differences!” “True love knows no age!” “The adults are as screwed up as the kids! Actually MORE screwed up!” The themes, and this film itself is about something more profoundly and fundamentally human. You will giggle quietly to yourself throughout the WHOLE darn thing. (One older guy in my sparsely-populated theater was guffawing at every little filmic “touch.” It was evident that Wes Anderson--born in 1969--had thoroughly captured an era that this man had thoroughly lived.) And who IS that old narrator guy who keeps filming himself (with horrible framing and lighting) and occasionally enters the story? Oh, we love this stuff, don’t we? Speaking of “framing”—the camerawork in MK is innovative along the lines of a film like “Tree of Life.” It uses the versatile, almost boundless visual medium of film to much fuller capacity than is usually attempted. Not SPFX-wise, but simply POV-wise and storytelling-wise. There are lots of dolly shots. The camera just keeps on going and going in a straight line OR darts back and forth on that line to eavesdrop on little knots of characters. Nothing is trite and everything delights. Mise-en-scene? This is how it’s done. I think I’m in Wes Anderson’s “camp” on cinematography.

Only postmodern-day uber-self-consciousness could have created such a seemingly simple, straightforward, talking film about a bygone era for sophisticated, media-savvy audiences. In some ways, the story is cast in a quasi-military milieu (the scouts and the police and the State), and there are definite “Lord of the Flies” overtones. The end gets a bit chaotic, madcap and screwball, unravels, and DOESN’T really work (even the scenery becomes extremely fake), but the closing scene—with a kind of new order restored—is well worth it. These two young lovers gently woke everyone up—without even meaning to.

Do yourself a favor and see this film.


--Wes Anderson keenly depicts a more elevated, educated, good diction and ability-to-express-oneself-verbally syntax among the characters from a (not so long ago) print/word-based society. MK made me really long for a “simpler” time without all the visual/electronic media! There are no TVs, headsets, blinking/glowing screens or isolated people in MK. THE PRE-MEDIATED LIFE. The fact that Americans spoke much more eloquently and coherently and elegantly in the 60’s really came home to me when I watched the documentary “Inquiring Sisters” (two nuns let loose with movie cameras on the streets of Chicago in 1968). Ordinary folks sound like orators!

--Roman Coppola was a co-writer.


--The “marriage” scene.

--Most used lines by every character: "It's true." "That's true."

--COMING ATTRACTIONS: That is one heck of a trailer for the Denzel Washington thriller: “Flight.” One heck.

--“Sunday school shoes.”

--Indian drums soundtrack.

--The BIG SIN of the 60’s: overdue library books! ha ha ha.

--Sam and Suzy’s correspondence.

--Sam and Suzy have no friends.

--Suzy’s eye makeup.

--Suzy’s violent streak.

--The violence of the scouts.

--You NEVER know what is going to come out of these characters’ mouths.

--“I love you, but you don’t know what you’re talking about.”

--The kid with the family wants to be an orphan. The orphan wants a family.

--Reading OUT LOUD. Oh, how I miss READING OUT LOUD.

--“Poor Suzy, why is everything so hard for you?”

--The Bruce Willis man-to-man talk with Sam. Priceless.

--Mom’s woman-to-woman talk with Suzy. Priceless.

--Women “want it all.” Women want everything. Women want so much.

--WEIRD SYMBIOSIS: Suzy is the older redheaded sister with three little pint-sized brothers. (“Brave”)

--Wes Anderson has a very strong sense of family. Perhaps because he called his parents’ divorce: "the most crucial event of my brothers and my growing up".