Tuesday, December 19, 2006

What does the Vatican think of "The Nativity Story"?

Amid many specious rumors about the Holy Father boycotting the Vatican screening of the film, the truth can be found at the above link, from Catholic News Service.
Here's my two cents. Catholics can get stuck in a boycott mentality. I always try to shop where my morality is respected, (for example I was planning to boycott Walmart last weekend for supporting the gay agenda, until they announced they will no longer be giving them funds)
So, let's get it straight, boycotts work, and have their place when groups or companies are deliberately supporting anti-Christian agendas, but they're not the only way to bring about cultural change.
There are some Catholics who want to boycott "The Nativity Story" because the girl who plays Mary has gotten pregnant at 16 and hasn't any shame about it. With 40% of births in this country to unwed mothers, not to mention the unreported pregnancies that end in abortion, Keisha Castle-Hughes has plenty of company. Who could blame her for thinking this is normal if her parents didn't raise her in a faith tradition? I would much rather that the Immaculate Virgin be played by a girl of higher morals, but that doesn't necessarily mean her performance had no merit.
Director Catherine Hardwicke, a Presbyterian may not have our Catholic perspective in mind when she filmed certain scenes (the recital of the Magnificat comes at the end of the film) but she doesn't offend Catholic doctrine by implying that Mary and Joseph were physically husband and wife after the birth of Christ. Let's see what she does capture in terms of an increased role for St. Joseph compared to previous films, like my favorite "Jesus of Nazareth" where he hardly spoke.
St. Joseph is played by Oscar Isaac who has had a "very Christian" upbringing, and Producer Mary Bowen a Catholic felt that the heroism of St. Joseph is a significant theme in the Christmas story.
The "National Catholic Register" film critic Steven D. Greydanus states, "in the three years since "The Passion's" debut, "The Nativity Story" may be the only big-studio religious film". "Perhaps "The Nativity Story" may even open more doors in Hollywood for future Bible films, especially if it achieves success without "Passion"like controversy.
Let's get out there, see the movie, and send Hollywood a positive message for a change. If not a resounding response like the magnificent "The Passion of the Christ" then at least a 'nice try, let's see some more films like this'.


D said...

Give yourself the gift of a meaningful Christmas.

I went to see The Nativity Story last night, opening night. As a recently baptized Christian, I will tell you that this was a most welcomed, meaningful and revolutionary movie for me. It centers around the mother of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.

A superbly crafted and thoughtfully directed movie, it deserves a high rating. It is an unprecedented tribute to a woman who has been relegated to backdrop scenes. Finally, Mary gets to have a movie about her spiritual journey. In my own life, Mary was in the far distant background, giving her fleeting thought if I came across a Nativity scene at Christmas or if I heard the Beatles song, "Let It Be":

"When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom, let it be. And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me, speaking words of wisdom, let it be."

It was made for a certain niche -- the ~200 million or so Americans who consider themselves Christians. Two years ago, I was not in this niche, being "spiritual, but not religious." Long story, short, it was Mary who pointed me to her Son, lead me on my own spiritual journey and caused a revolution in my heart, mind and soul.

Those who take the time to learn about her and her role do not, as I was mislead to believe, worship her. They simply respect and venerate her. Leading folks to her Son, as I learned, is her job. In this movie, her character is doing exactly that again for me and viewers who are called to see it.

Ever since she lead me home, Christmas has taken on such meaning as I never imagined. This year, I've started the season -- called the Advent season -- with a faith-based movie that allowed me to slide right into it in a beautiful, gentle and do I dare say, beatific way.

This movie experience is an exquisite gift for the heart and soul. Moreover, it is a feast for the eyes. I went past the inanimate objects of Nativity displays to a visually rich and "fleshed" out Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, shepherds, Magi and stable animals. The director of the movie, Catherine Hardwick, referred to a line in the script: "...the greatest of kings born in the most humble of places."

"Power," she says, "is not a physical power. It's not riches, it's not money, it's not control of governments and nations. It's a deeper power, spirituality."

At the end of the movie, the audience burst out in spontaneous applause. For each of us, Christmas is not at all about holiday parties, frenzied shopping and the trappings and physical accouterments. Now, THAT'S revolutionary.

When this comes out in DVD, it will be a part of our yearly Christmas tradition, reminding us what it is all about.

"Merry Christ-mas!" I hope you will make it meaningfully merrier by giving yourself this movie experience of the life of Mary.

Amy Caroline said...

I agree completely! We must tell Hollywood to make more faith based family films! Even if it isn't "exactly" what we would envision.
And d, you are very correct. I had left the church and sitting in the theater watching The Passion, it ws the moment when mary see Jesus fall and they flash back to a toddler Jesus falling. The very look in Mary's eyes... to this day makes me cry to just think about it. In that moment I was brought back to the church.