August 11, 2019

THE TRANSGENDER BACKLASH IS COMING



Don't forget to go after Big Pharma, too, kids!

(Notice that the trans-industry has to create a problem and then solve it. Like mouth wash, hair and skin products, teeth whitening...basically all advertising.)





August 5, 2019

NETFLIX: "STRANGER THINGS 3"




The justifiably eagerly-awaited third installment of the 1980’s sci-fi pre-teen protagonists action thriller is here. On Netflix. And it’s not the end! Stay tuned for Part 4.


Part 1 was family fun and family friendly, Part 2 went too far in language and aggressivity—almost to the point of my not being able to recommend it—but Part 3 is back, much more like Part 1, much more appropriate, but preserving the non-stop tension, stakes and intensity. Lots of intensity.

I want so much to unequivocally like this series, but I’m still a bit ambivalent. It has a lot of good stuff in it, but not even a whisper of human beings acknowledging God. There’s no religion. Nothing. (Perhaps a more accurate reflection of 2019, but not 1980’s Middle America.) There’s only evil, evil human beings and good human beings. We’re on our own to face the monsters.

I’m going to do this review in bullet form: 

 --Seems no one has anything else important to do besides sleuthing (and saving the planet). No jobs, school, etc.).

--Wynona Ryder just gets better and better. Good sets. ST respects kids’ intelligence and the identical twin young writer/director brothers know it’s good to be a kid.

--Only the young girl can slay the dragon (Middle Ages, anyone)?

--Parts of ST are just so good and so human. Things slow down and we take time to be human. In real time. Real human time.

--Great concept: “DOOR between worlds.”

--Part 3 is much more manic, fun, funny, tongue-in-cheek, day-glo shiny and kid/pre-teen friendly.  Fun, fun study of the 80’s. ST is so self-consciously 80’s (not bad for filmmakers born in 1984) with the greatest soundtrack that actually fits and isn’t “greatest hits” or cheeseball. Sadly, still a lot of “JC” and one  “HOLY MOTHER OF GOD” (so I guess there is some God in it—I’m dead serious, this counts in a very negative way). But overall an attempt seems to have been made to make it more kid friendly again.

--Fine acting by 2 slightly older young adult men (Steve & Billy, especially Billy).

--11 (El) is learning to be a human being.

--At times, ST3 is only and all about pre-teen “dating.”  All about. With some terrifying sci-fi and maybe some real sci-non-fi thrown in.

--A little bit of feminism here and there—(mostly the girls building up their confidence), but fairly OK (not radical feminism). ST thoroughly enjoys hearkening back to a slightly simpler, slightly more wholesome time. I find that Millennials really love the 80’s for that (and SEE the 80’s as a time of innocence, something like the 1950’s, except for the LANGUAGE coming from the “mouths of babes.”)

--Hopper, the chief of police, tries to be Dad to El—does good, then turns into an idiot again (he’s never been a paragon of virtue).

--Frightening and grotesque disfigurements here and there when the creature(s?) strikes. Although the creature-enemy-monster is a run-of-the-mill, gummy mouthed blob, the terrifying thing about it is that when you chop it up, each severed piece takes on a life of its own. (Gives new meaning to “divide and conquer.”) Bits of torture. Lots and lots and lots and lots of intense prolonged violence by youth and often directed at youth. Lots and lots of continuous high-stakes action. The kids are heroic.

--Not a lot of parental supervision. Not all parents are bad examples or buffoons in ST. Some great parents and parenting moments.

--Our young stars are growing up gracefully. They are age-typical (if sometimes not exactly age appropriate), not smartypants or smart alecs to adults (only to each other).

--Interesting story line that makes sense with its own mythology / gooey mouthed creature which is a little scarier because it’s spider-like (and spiders usually are female in art…hmmm. Will this be an “Aliens” thing in the end)?

--S3: E6 The monster presence (never resting, always on a mission) starts as a kind of sense of evil, wanting to take over everything like Satan. Satan’s one job that keeps him very busy is getting you to hell. He has so much work with so many people to ensnare and get to damn themselves. Good portrayal of good vs. evil.  THE EVIL SEEMS TO BE GROWING LARGER AND LARGER. I don’t know that the depth of all the symbolism has been totally thought out, but it pretty much works.

--“Back to the Future” pop culture reference. Some smoking (making a comeback in films these days).

--Some de rigueur loose morals among adults.

--The Monster to El: “You let us in, now you have to let us stay. We built it for you and now we are going to destroy you and then your friends and then everyone.” My spiritual director said: “Satan would like nothing better than we all kill ourselves.” Very apocalyptic. Very much for our times with rising suicide rates and the ongoing, multi-dimensional Church crisis. Vigano: “To fight and win with Mary the battle with the ancient dragon.”  “Your opponent, the devil, is like a prowling lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, solid in your faith.” –St. Peter the Apostle

--Could ST be called a horror-comedy? (Yes, there’s quite enough chuckles to warrant it—the cherry slurpee scene alone, a good kind of campy).

--Cast of thousands--thousands of young people!

--Sweet, realistic romance, young love, how young people SHOULD  be talking to each other, how they SHOULD acting with each other (which was easier before media devices silenced everyone). HUGE JOHN HUGHES FEEL.

--For all her superpowers, Eleven/El needs Mike and can be fragile. She never acts "superior" to the others, but instead is trying to fit in.

--One gentle, sensitive “coming out” scene. Young adult guy hits on girl. Young adult girl sez she wishes Tammy was looking at her…. That’s it.

--“WHAT DO YOU WANT???” Billy to monster before monster takes him over (like a possession). Why Billy the lifeguard? Why anyone? Satan wants everyone. He has one job that keeps him very, very busy till the end of the world. ST3 really made me think so much of this! The gooey monster(s) divides and separates and lives on and just never goes away. Such hatred of humanity. Can’t help but think of the devil.  Spider-like (and spiders are always scary. And gross. And female?) Evil is powerful, getting bigger, makes weird, sticky, liquidy, chortling sounds. If you believe we’re kinda nearing the End Times or at least the Great Tribulation/Chastisement in real life? This film will feel prescient.

--As the great American mall dies today, it was thriving in the 80’s  (now we know what killed the great American mall! LOL).

-- I’m in awe of these young North Carolina dude filmmakers who understand the glee with which we people of the Cold War used to say “commie b*st*rds!”—of course, angelic moi did NOT say that—the Duffer Brothers must have been listening to their parents/parents’ friends. ST3 also proves, once more, that the Russkies make the best bad guys, the best USA nemesis, and we miss the good old days.

--These kids are pretty heavily NERD KIDS. They would have to be to be involved in the investigative/espionage/combat  they’re involved in.

--As bombastic and seizure-inducing as ST is, there’s also something cozy and comforting about it.

--“SHUT DE DO’ KEEP OUT THE DEVIL!!!!” THE DOOR!!!! THE OPENING!!! THE PIT OF HELL that will one day open during the final battle (see the Book of Revelation)!  A NEWS REPORT ON A TV SEZ: “ARE ALL THESE TRAGEDIES LINKED TO AN INCREASE IN SATANISM?” (That could be a Freudian slip, or mocking the 1980’s upsurge in preoccupation with Satanism, and seeing Satanic symbols everywhere and behind everything.)


Such a great comment! I was trying to see what medal he was wearing and I kind of missed all this! So, of course, the "life guard" has to go first! ⚜


From my research on ST2, it seems the kid actors themselves really got into using the foul, blasphemous language themselves (even to the surprise of the filmmakers who wanted to cut it back a little) and demanded that they say it.












July 26, 2019

MOVIES: "GOOD BOYS"


THIS FILM IS A NEW LOW AND CROSSES A HUGE LINE.
SETH ROGEN HAS A LOT TO ANSWER FOR.


The movie-making and entertainment bar has just been lowered to a depressing new low. Seth Rogen (who brought you “Superbad” and “Sausage Party”) has a new, raunchy, “R”-rated film entitled “Good Boys” about three middle school friends who innocently get caught up in today’s depraved culture. A new line has been crossed with this show. It’s something NEW, something evil. Watch any iteration of “Good Boys” several different trailers and you will weep. You’ll wonder how a more-or-less mainstream creative mind—such as Rogen’s--could come up with something so devilish. Actually, it’s not that his mind WENT there, but that he EXECUTED this complete degradation of young people—a previously taboo, off-limits maneuver.  Think about it. I’m sure plenty of studios and screenwriters and producers and actors and show-runners have dreamt up nasty story-lines involving kids--but basic human decency prevented them from moving forward. That is no longer the case.

You see, when you call something a comedy, especially an “over the top” comedy—wink, wink…anything goes, even  the dismantling of childhood (although I would suspect even some comedians known for their lascivious adult stage shows will agree that “Good Boys” goes too far, because…kids). It’s open season on kids if you haven’t noticed. We are destroying our children and youth through neglect, porn, lack of parenting, removing boundaries, questioning the very concept of childhood, allowing unbridled media use—not to mention gaslighting them with false gender ideology. And legally? We’re quickly smashing anything that protects young people from adults who wish them different types of harm.

Even if something is fiendishly clever and thereby also humorous, what we audiences actually choose to watch and what we actually laugh at says a lot about OUR character. And we’re complicit by our support and by feeding ourselves with refuse like “Good Boys.” What greater mockery of goodness could we have than wishing to corrupt youth at younger and younger ages? Men are the initiators of the gift of love and life. It’s bad enough that—in the absence of strong, noble fathers/father-figures/mentors—young men socialize each other to exploiting power and the abuse of women and children (when they are called to use their power to protect women and children). Now we want to wickedly de-moralize young boys? Start ‘em off younger and younger on the wrong road?

You’ve never heard me say this before, but I hope you loudly BOYcott this film—AND squawk any way you can: to sponsors, theaters, the filmmakers, friends and family. Get petitions going. Resist. Fight back. Fight for our kids. If you care. As for Seth Rogen? He has a lot to answer for.

God does not take kindly to those who harm kids.

TRAILER:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=asgS75u7wW0


(I knew this day would come. If everything is just a social construct, so is childhood.)



CONTRACEPTION VS. NATURAL FAMILY PLANNING--WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE?

July 14, 2019

THEOLOGY OF THE BODY IN ART & MEDIA PODCAST


Listen to parts 1 & 2 of interview w/ on "Theology of the Body in Art & Media" … (Part 1=July 11, Part 2=July 18)


THREE THEOLOGY OF THE BODY PRINCIPLES FOR ARTISTS:

1. The personalistic norm: "A human being may never be used. The only appropriate response to a person is love."
2. For artists, ethics ARE aesthetics.
3. The purpose of art is the same as the purpose of the body: to make visible the invisible; to reveal the deepest, unseen meaning of things.

THREE MAIN POINTS BY WHICH SR. HELENA REVIEWS A FILM:

1. Excellence in filmmaking
2. Overall experience of the film (and where is film coming from/why was it made?)
3. How does the film jive with a Judaeo-Christian, biblical, sacramental, Theology of the Body worldview?

SHOULD I WATCH THIS FILM (AS AN ADULT)?
1. Pray. Pray before, during, after the film.
2. Know thyself.
3. Hit pause. It's OK to look away / fast forward / turn off / walk away / walk out / take a stand.
4. Ask yourself: Why am I watching this film in the first place? We are always disciples of Jesus Christ and must always glorify Him in all that we do, including our media/digital lives. Will watching this film glorify Him? (Even if it might be objectionable in parts, am I watching it to study it and help myself and others? Never use "I'm studying it" as an excuse!)
5. Be brutally honest about how this film is affecting you, body and soul. How it's affecting your relationship with God, self, family, others, enemies, all Creation.


















June 17, 2019

GOOD NEW VATICAN DOCUMENT ON GENDER THEORY


Good new doc from Vatican Congregation on Catholic Education entitled "Male & Female He Created Them: Toward a Path of Dialogue on Question of Gender Ideology in Education." Skeletal but good start. My 2 cents (nuances) below.

Here's the document itself: http://www.educatio.va/content/dam/cec/Documenti/19_0997_INGLESE.pdf


MY COMMENTS ON NEW DOCUMENT FROM VATICAN CONGREGATION FOR EDUCATION ON GENDER IDEOLOGY:

--#11-12 The definitions of “sexual orientation,” “transgenderism” and “queer” are slightly different than my (current) understanding of them (since language, too, is subject to fluidity!) and I think could have been defined with more nuance, precision and explanation.

--#16 This statement is not clear to me: “welcome all legitimate expressions of human personhood with respect.”

--#17-18 “A further positive development in anthropological understanding also present in writing on gender….” then is quoted a portion of the Church’s thinking on “femininity” (that radical feminists to not agree with, I assure you!) not general/secular “writing on gender” (unless the point is putting the Church’s contribution on the same level as “gender studies,” which is not a bad idea). However, the new document goes on to outline--lopsidedly--only women’s sacrificial self-giving and motherhood, while nothing is said about men’s sacrificial self-giving and fatherhood (which is a huge, huge problem in the Church itself today)! We then wonder why young men aren’t formed into responsibility and handling their life-giving powers well! On top of that, we disparage men for not doing what they’ve never been taught/challenged to do. This fact, rightly, is what feminists of different ilks bring to our attention: women are just automatically expected to serve others because it’s their “special gift.” What about the men?

--#24-25 After describing the condition of intersex (without naming it as such) the document in the next breath lumps “intersex” (which means born with certain biological indeterminacies with regard to sex in varying degrees, including genes, genitals, neurology, etc., often with characteristics of both sexes) in with transgender (as a psycho-affective condition). However, it’s OK to call the condition of being born intersex “intersex” without deeming it to be a “3rd sex” or negating the reality of male or female, or using it to support the notion of transgender.

I would also be very, very careful about saying ONLY medical professionals can determine which sex (male or female) an intersex baby is! Medical professionals have often determined wrongly and intervened toward a sex that the child growing up does not feel themselves to be! (The intersex community rightly gets very angry about this!) Some cases of intersex are slight, but others are more complicated. The parents can make an educated guess (with the help of medical professionals) and begin organically, gently raising the child toward one sex or the other without medical intervention. Let the kid figure it out as they grow up. Wait to do medical interventions (even till after puberty and into young adulthood). The intersex person knows who they are. For an intersex person to choose medical interventions for themselves when they are physically and emotionally mature enough has nothing to do with transgenderism. It’s treating and correcting a physical disorder as one might choose to medically correct any other physical disorder. But neither is the intersex person obliged to do this. 

Here is a very good article about a (blended) family who have two intersex girls. The first XXY child had a medical intervention towards male, but she grew up feeling female (and hips and breasts developed in pre-teenhood)—which caused her much grief and pain (and physical violence)! The second XXY child they did no intervention on, and at five years old, she has gravitated to being female. https://toronto.citynews.ca/2019/06/09/lovingly-a-family-raises-an-intersex-child-again-2/

--#30ff As stated in the subtitle of the document, the Church is hoping for “dialogue” with families, school, professionals, society, etc., participating (always with an acknowledgment that parents are the first educators of their children) regarding the best information and milieu for children regarding sexuality. (It does mention Catholic schools specifically, also.) However, the home is truly the best locus for this. I believe the best support would be educating parents’ groups (often along with their teens at the same time), and helping them prepare their younger children for today’s hypersexualized, pornified, misinformation Sexual/Gender Revolution culture. See resources here:  www.tinyurl.com/TOBsexED  

Although we can always hope for true dialogue, and we must keep trying, the well-heeled, ever more powerful global LGBTQ+ movement has made deep inroads into law, governments, military, sports, education, teachers’ unions, media, news, entertainment, courts, academia, bio-ethics, hospitals, etc., and into the Catholic Church itself. We need an emergency-crisis-mode mentality. A wedge is being driven between parents and their children by many of the above-mentioned entities, now to the point that children can be legally removed from their homes by case workers to they can live as their “true selves” (viz., transgender—which the child has falsely been indoctrinated and persistently affirmed that they are) in a “trans-friendly”home/environment.

--#40 “Tolerance” is not a Christian virtue. Charity is. True charity is willing and doing the good of the other. "Tolerance applies to people, but never ideas. Intolerance applies to ideas, but never people." --Fulton Sheen





May 30, 2019

HOW "BIRTH CONTROL" BETRAYED WOMEN


"No one, no one tells young women how their body works. I know people who graduated from med school knowing only how to tell women to take the Pill."

OF COURSE, I disagree with her advice to go ahead and do condoms/contraception "if you're having sex with random people." Don't have sex with random people.

May 20, 2019

MOVIES: "US"



The new film, simply entitled “Us,” is the much anticipated follow-up to Jordan Peele’s runaway success “Get Out,” which won a 2018 Oscar for “Best Original Screenplay.” “Us” is not a sequel, but continues to tell African-American stories in the horror genre. I didn’t quite see how this was a social commentary (as is the delicious “Get Out”). The best I could figure—if it IS a social commentary at all—is that it’s a contrast between the privileged and underprivileged, those considered more human and less human. Either way, it’s a fun-enough thriller, although the pacing is inconsistent at times, with beats, scenes and sequences that are too drawn out, automatically dulling the suspense. Also, the mise-en-scene is almost too calculated and precise as to be antiseptic and remind us we are in a film.

A loving family of four: Mom, Dad, teenage girl and younger son set out on a family vacation at Santa Cruz beach, the very place that Mom had a harrowing experience as a young girl. She’s reluctant to go at first, but her sanguine husband convinces her. All is going swell…until it isn’t. A family of four (yes, Dad, Mom, daughter and son) in red jumpsuits suddenly shows up in the driveway. At night. Wielding scissors. The red-clad family are doppelgangers: primitive, feral, brute-like copies who immediately go on a murderous spree. Each family member is pursued by their own mirror-image. (Reminded me here of the excellent little film, “Coherence.”)

What do these miserable creatures want? Your life. No, not just to extinguish your life but to take it over. To live your life. To be you. The main character is the Mom and her nemesis (the only one of the humanoids that seems able to speak, albeit in a menacingly raspy voice). It’s personal, and yes, it’s related to Mom’s ordeal as a small child. What chance does the little family have confronted by these zombie-like beings? In an all-out war to survive, the family that slays together stays together. At a certain point, the kids must save the Mom (reminiscent of “Incredibles 2”). There is no danger that anyone will abandon ship and run for their lives, because “family means there are people who will die for you” (according to a play I once saw performed in Hollywood).

The storyline is unfussy and linear with a few flashbacks to Mom’s childhood experience.
Dad and others provide dark comic relief at the tensest moments. The gore is, blessedly, like an old school film, off camera (thank you, Mr. Peele!), while the blood splatters on the faces in the frame. The soundtrack is superb and intense, an experience and story within itself, busy and lively but never detracting or distracting from the visuals. There’s even a dance to the death at the end. Quite a marvelous metaphor.

Jeremiah 11:11 is the ominous theme. “No escape,” eh? Whether you know it or not, horror movies aren’t supposed to have happy endings.

OTHER STUFF:

--Is it social commentary when the monsters say “We are human, too”? “We are human beings, too?” “You could have taken us with you?” “It’s our time now?”When the only safe place is Mexico? When the police will take too long to save the night? When the family becomes vicious, hacking slaughterers themselves?

--Do the white rabbits represent experimentation or Alice in Wonderland or both?




March 27, 2019

MOVIES: "UNPLANNED"



Yeah. I saw it. Here are my endorsements. (In theaters March 29, 2019.)
#ShoutYourUNPLANNEDexperience

--"'Unplanned' is the film event of the twenty-first century."

--"'Unplanned' 'goes there' like no other film--with love and compassion--proving 'love is stronger than death.'"

--"'Unplanned' is a victory for all who want take a second look at what abortion really is. This is a win-win film!"

--"Truth wins. Forgiveness wins. Love wins. Life wins."

--"If you think this is a typical 'Christian film'? Guess again. It's fair, it's gritty. It's real."

--"Hard to watch? Only because, as Abby Johnson says, 'Abortion isn't pretty.' But abortion will not have the last word. Not in this film, not in history.'"

--"With serious talk of the horror of infanticide on the horizon, 'Unplanned' couldn't come at a better time."

--"This would be a horror film--if love and life didn't win in the end."
____________

The new feature film, “Unplanned”—the true story of Planned Parenthood director, Abby Johnson, who turned pro-life—is phenomenal. It’s rated “R” due to the violence that is abortion, or as Abby says in the film: “Abortion isn’t pretty.”

As is the trend today, the film is not chronological. It starts with the abortion that changed it all, the abortion Abby witnessed on an ultrasound machine, watching a baby struggle and fight for its life before it was suctioned out of the womb and reduced to pulp. We get bits and snatches of Abby’s life before working for the abortion industry, her own two abortions that she needed to justify by joining the anti-mothership itself:  Planned Parenthood.  Perfectly seasoned with just enough candid voiceover (a film like this really needs some narration of what the protagonist’s intentions are), we learn two mind-boggling mysteries. 1)  Abby really was na├»ve, was deceived as to what abortion is (she was convinced the fetus doesn’t feel pain, and that’s what she based her support for abortion on). 2) She, along with many of the southern, Texas women working at the clinic, were Christians and some even believed they were doing “God’s work,” helping “women in crisis.”

The film is incredibly fair to pro-aborts. It speaks from within their fatally-flawed logic. Good arguments are given to “the other side”—the problem is, those arguments will never be good enough. "Unplanned" also depicts the brand of shrill, shrieking, hostile, insulting pro-lifers who get few flies with their acrid vinegar—as they protest outside Abby’s clinic. The heroes of the film are the kind, prayerful “40 Days for Life” vigil-keepers at Abby’s Planned Parenthood who befriended her from the very beginning, before she rose up the ranks to become the PP director. When Abby’s eyes were finally opened, she knew exactly where to go, who to go to, who she could trust.

Although “Unplanned” has the look, feel and soundtrack of a typical “Christian film,” the rest of the content does not. This is a gritty film that “goes there” with no “easy” God solutions. Cheryl (Robia Scott, a Madeleine Stowe lookalike)—the PP director before Abby took over--gives an icy, Oscar-worthy performance. All the acting is superb, in fact, as well as the dialogue, which completely avoids platitudes, soundbites and catch-phrases of any kind. “Unplanned” is not the idea or theory of the rightness or wrongness of abortion, it is the everyday, lived business of abortion. Nowhere does the fact of a de facto ideology of abortion come to light more clearly than when Abby is given a baby shower in the abortion clinic. It’s a baby if I want it. It’s a baby if I say it is. If I don’t want it or say it isn’t? It’s not. No incongruity there! The “triumph of the will” is on full display but in a subtle, mundane way (“the banality of evil”). The “impose” worldview is hard at work: Nothing “is what it is” or has any value until I say so, until I impose my ideas, meanings and values on that thing or person. I am not only the master of my own destiny but the master of everything and everyone around me. I am speaking of the social engineers of abortion. The film also shows many young, lost, confused, unsure, scared, hesitant women who have assumed that because it’s legal, it must be OK. Also, the fact that everyone in the clinic wears scrubs and a (surly) doctor performs the procedure, what could go wrong?

“Unplanned” will educate you about abortion. Educate you about facts you may not have known. You will be educated by someone who directed one of the largest Planned Parenthoods in the Western Hemisphere for eight years, until she was asked to assist with an abortion—for the first time--and saw the ultrasound….

I met Abby shortly after she turned pro-life and know many more of the details or her amazing conversion. The film is incredibly faithful to her story. Not only that, this was a difficult film to make in every way: the writing, the acting, questions of what to show/how much to show/how to show it, the editing, etc.--and the filmmakers succeeded, far better than I would ever have dreamed. This may not be a “perfect film,” but it’s a “perfectly made film.” It’s everything it needed to be. One would even have been able to call it “entertaining” because of the almost unbelievable story-line and plot twists, the way it draws you in and never lags--except that this is a story of death and destruction of the lives of women and children on a massive scale.

The fence between the abortion clinic and the pro-lifers becomes a poignant symbol throughout the film and is well utilized, as are so many other cinematic storytelling devices.

A few minor drawbacks: the actress who plays Abby could’ve come across as a little more strong-willed (as is the real Abby); the soundtrack is cloying at times, at other times when scenes was screaming for silence, snatches of bombastic Christian songs are plopped in. The immediate aftermath of Abby’s conversion was almost anticlimactic in its ho-hum normality. But maybe that was the point. No trumpets went off, no awards were handed out. But little by little the personal and public triumph grows, with all the love, gentleness and sweetness of hundreds of red and white roses.

OTHER STUFF:

--The abortion on the ultrasound is not an actual abortion. Authentically simulated.

--Should I bring young people to see this film?
This is what I told one mum:

Only a parent knows each child and what they can handle. I would say a mature 13 year old who already knows what abortion is and has a steady fare of today's media could handle. A sheltered child? Maybe not so much. Nothing terribly graphic except an ultrasound (shown 3 times) of a baby being sucked out of the mother's womb (baby loses a leg in the process)...then we see a closeup of the blood and "pulp" in the tubes. It should be rated "R" because abortion is a horror, of course. Also lots of women in distress and some blood and gore when a woman takes the "morning after pill" and it doesn't go so well.

--Anyone who goes to see this film and has participated in an abortion in any way is going to be deeply moved and may want to avail themselves of counseling/healing. Here are some organizations that can help:

www.hopeafterabortion.com  (post-abortion healing)
www.SistersOfLife.org  (help for women in crisis pregnancies)
www.rachelsvineyard.org (retreat for men & women wounded by abortion)
www.heartbeatinternational.org (the largest worldwide network of aid to pregnant women)

--Remember, many on the pro-abortion side outright lie that pro-lifers are not concerned about the woman and only want the baby to be born. “Catholic Charities” (the charitable arm of Catholic dioceses in the USA) and many other organizations (see above) have all kinds of assistance to mother and child before, during and after birth, including housing, job training and child care.


--After landing role of Abby Johnson, "Unplanned" actress finds out she was almost aborted. (Here she also states that she's willing to be blacklisted in Hollywood for taking the role.)









March 8, 2019

WHAT'S AT STAKE WHEN A CHILD SELF-IDENTIFIES AS "TRANSGENDER"


Can a Child Really Self-Identify as Transgender? (The Silencing of Discussion, Therapy, Debate, Research--4,500% increase of ROGD in girls--Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria--Using Suicide as a Threat)

A Brave "Inclusion Expert" Educator Stands Up For Youth:

The role of online/digital/social media in ROGD:
https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0202330




March 1, 2019

MOVIES: "UNPLANNED"




Yeah. I saw it. These are my endorsements. (In theaters March 29.)
#ShoutYourUNPLANNEDexperience


--"'Unplanned' is the film event of the twenty-first century."

--"'Unplanned' 'goes there' like no other film--with love and compassion--proving 'love is stronger than death.'"

--"'Unplanned' is a victory for all who want take a second look at what abortion really is. This is a win-win film!"

--"Truth wins. Forgiveness wins. Love wins. Life wins."

--"If you think this is a typical 'Christian film'? Guess again. It's fair, it's gritty. It's real."

--"Hard to watch? Only because, as Abby Johnson says, 'Abortion isn't pretty.' But abortion will not have the last word. Not in this film, not in history.'"

--"With serious talk of the horror of infanticide on the horizon, 'Unplanned' couldn't come at a better time."

--"This would be a horror film--if love and life didn't win in the end." 



MOVIES: "BLACK PANTHER"




Multiple Oscar-winner “Black Panther” is a triumph for Marvel Comics and African-American filmmaking, as well as Black youth the world over. “Entertainment Weekly” quotes a Black teen after screening BP: “So this is how white people feel all the time?” Each Academy Award (costume design, production design, original musical score) was well-deserved, although I didn’t think there was anything terribly new about the heroic, dime-a-dozen soundtrack with just a few African drums thrown in. I was expecting something much more distinctive, more of a stand-out, something hummable.

WOMEN OF WAKANDA

Wakanda is a fictional small country in Africa (thought by the rest of the world to be a Third World country with little power, resources or influence). But in reality, they are a highly-developed technological society, also harboring the world’s strongest substance, vibranium, which obviously gives them an advantage in battle. Battle with whom? Only four of the five warring tribes in the area put themselves under the Black Panther (that consummate all-around actor, Chadwick Boseman) as their king-ruler.  His generals are all fierce, high-tech-spear-wielding women. His mother (the ageless Angela Bassett), sister and ex-girlfriend (Lupita Nyongo) are all formidable women to be reckoned with. His mischievous, scientific sister runs a James Bondesque lab for weapon gadgetry. However, there is a harmonious blend of ancient, primitive Mother Africa with her incomparable landscape (and some rhinos)—why would you give that up?—and the ultra-modern: skyscrapers and electronics. Dress, accessories and bodily adornment is a colorful pan-African mix.

I SEE WHITE PEOPLE

There are a few white people in the film, side characters—but they are not tokens, fools, whipping boys or scapegoats. A few are accurately villains in a way only white people (meaning those in power, those who, at the moment are privileged/at the top of the food chain) can be (i.e., stripping/robbing others of their cultures, cultural appropriation). But the film doesn’t take the tack of dismissing Caucasians as “the problem” (a form of continued enslavement/subjugation?)—rather the film wants the Black community to find their own solutions within. Not everything in BP is a thinly-veiled reference to a real-life twenty-first century inequity. This is a fun, fantastical adventure as it should be! But one can certainly draw parallels without too much trouble.

TO FIGHT OR NOT TO FIGHT

The conundrum, question and quandary of violence is always lurking beneath the surface. “Wakandans only fight when necessary.” One character even chooses a path of self-destruction in the face of being wronged. It seems the film is sympathetic to his choice, but that will not be the route the film will propose. The film proposes overcoming together, not despairing alone.

The mythology of Wakanda is straightforward enough and not too complex. The intricacies of the story lie in the family ties (including the Black Panther’s deceased father), the loyalties (or not) to Wakanda, the prospect of revenge and the Black Panther’s throne being challenged, and finally the future of Wakanda potentially thrown into disarray: “I don’t want to serve my country, I want to save my country!” Wakanda needs to be strong together before it can help the rest of the world.

WHO RETELLS THE STORIES RULES THE WORLD

BP is good-hearted with a large view and a true social consciousness. There is deserved, justified anger toward colonialism, but it takes the high road and transcends injustice by controlling the narrative to the point of having the upper hand and the ability to condescend, but chooses not to! Kinda brilliant.

BP is a clever, clever meta-retelling, reclaiming of Black power at the top and the bottom, even to the point of Wakanda “taking responsibility” for “creating monsters” because they abandoned “their own” in the world (along with the rest of the world). “Wakanda is strong enough to protect itself AND help others.” The implication is that not only should Wakanda NOT take up arms and fight colonizers the world over, but rather help the poor things. Otherwise, there’s always the danger of “becoming like the people you hate.” And isn’t that always the dilemma? Falling into the master-slave dynamic, the Marxist oppressor-victim relationship—as though there were no other choices? Just an endless cycle of the victim becoming the oppressor becoming the victim becoming the oppressor.


#OscarsNotSoWhiteAnymore

Oscars 2019 seemed to be a sincere effort to listen to African-American stories with new ears, eyes and heart. Although Hollywood is international, it’s also American, and there are the proverbial “two Americas”: black and white. The Black stories brought to the fore are not only the older stories of the horror of U.S.-style slavery (a particularly heinous form of human slavery)—but more recent grievances—and not only grievances and reactive stories, but fresh, proactive stories. Spike Lee’s speech, Congressman John Lewis’ speech, “BlacKkKlansman,” Barbra Streisand’s speech, James Baldwin’s “If Beale Street Could Talk,” “Green Book” winning Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor/Actress awards didn’t feel patronizing. It felt like recognizing true achievement and honoring diversity. I know not everyone will agree with me, but at very least it seemed like a step in the right direction. But of course, I’m not Black.

MORE OF THIS, PLEASE

I want to see a sequel to “Black Panther” with the BP on the streets fighting injustice on the micro-level, teaching kids or something. I think there’s so much potential for a sequel to go in any direction it wants after doing the macro thing with this “first” filmic tale. All I can say is: “Wakanda forever!”

OTHER STUFF:

--Not that BP takes itself too seriously, but I wouldn’t have minded a TAD more humor.

-- I’ve often heard people say: “Slavery is long over!” As though it should be forgotten, as though there were no fall out, as though attitudes have completely changed, as thought it weren’t just a few lifetimes ago (I met a woman in her 90’s in the 1980’s whose MOTHER was a slave as a child. Think about that). I also heard that after “Twelve Years a Slave,” Hollywood is kind of tired of slavery movies. Tired? We’ve only just begun! Can there be too many World War 2 stories or Holocaust stories? Now, more than ever, we need to tell these stories. Now that we have such an incredible screen story tool box of MOTION PICTURE ARTS & SCIENCES.




February 26, 2019

MOVIES: "THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS"



This star-studded Coen Brothers Oscar-nominated film, "The Ballad of Buster Scruggs," is a typical Coen Brothers quirky, stylistic offering. Buster, a cowboy in white on his trusty horse, Dan, clops through the opening scene, strumming and singing a lonesome ditty about water--as the majestic canyons echo back. Suddenly, Buster turns to the camera and begins to narrate. At length. In fact, he's the only one who says pretty much anything for the first 15 minutes or so. Yeah, the monologue is pretty funny, but the Coen Brothers' unique style of shocking, callous, in-your-face, "campy," bloody, mounting violence comes all too quickly. I had to shut it off. Maiming and brutal murder isn't funny. Watching a man's fingers be blown off one by one is not my idea of entertainment. Sometimes I think this is all the CBs have. None of their stories are terribly coherent or feel like a real story. They just have eye candy and mayhem. Thus endeth my review.




February 12, 2019

YOUTUBE: "BRIDES OF CHRIST"--AUSTRALIAN TV, 1991




It was recently brought to my attention (by a young woman in discernment) that there exists on YouTube (for free) the 6 episodes of an award-winning Australian TV mini-series called "Brides of Christ." It's set in the turbulent 1960's before/after Vatican II (featuring a young Naomi Watts and Russell Crowe!)

Now. I am bringing this series to your attention NOT in order to recommend it, but rather to briefly review it, warn you and head you off at the overpass. I have been a vocation directress for a long time, and I keep abreast of the latest "discerning" trends. Young women today do tons (or tonnes) of online "research" regarding religious life, and they watch all kinds of documentaries and movies (like the heinous and completely unrealistic "Novitiate," see my review: https://hellburns.blogspot.com/2017/09/movies-novitiate.html#.XGMifjNKiM8) about nuns. Some guidance is in order.

The storyline: Some young friends attend an all-girls nun-run boarding school. Some of their teachers are young women, not much older than their students, who are in formation to become full-fledged nuns. We enter the drama on both sides and the intersecting drama of teachers and students as well. Masterfully done! So much attention to detail, camera angles, etc.

"Brides of Christ" has excellent production values, stellar acting and deep insider knowledge of how the Catholic Church (and religious life) operates. I saw the name of a priest and two nuns as advisors in the credits. It goes from a very realistic moment to the next moment being "um, that would never happen," so, it's confusing. The nuns are, for the most part, genuine, lovely people, each with their unique personalities and approaches to life and religious life in particular.* However, it's fairly clear (while voicing some good arguments for healthy tradition and doctrine) that the perspective of "BoC" is a "liberal" one. Ugly moments like the shaming of a divorced Catholic, some heavy-handed (but accurate!) sex education with morality (what a concept!) and quandries about "renewal" in the convent, as well as the jettisoning, trashing and under-bus-throwing of "Humanae Vitae," all make this abundantly clear.

"Brides of Christ" is SCREAMING for Theology of the Body: not only in the 1960's setting, but in the 1991 setting of the filmmakers who only seem capable of examining the whys of Church teaching in a truly rigid, harsh, truncated, negative, legalistic, controlling, judgmental, inadequate, incomplete, impersonal way. The rudimentary elements of Church teaching are there, but not the positive, "what are we saying yes to when we say no?" abundant fleshing out. And so, it all falls miserably short. (And yet, we can still see glimpses of the beauty of order and discipline and how it benefits everyone concerned.)

Watch at your own risk of becoming misinformed and having faulty scenarios lodged forever in your cranium. I would love to "teach" this entire series by freeze-framing and commenting on the good, the bad and the preposterous. Until that becomes a reality, may I recommend reading Anne Carey's "Sister in Crisis (Revisited)"--the hands-down best chronicling of "what the heck happened" to women's religious life in the 20th-21st century.