Faith persecuted. Faith perverted. Faith triumphant.
Unheralded as a “moment,” the simultaneous box office and critical success of The Silence, Patriots Day and Hidden Figures should stand out to people who have longed wished for Hollywood to take religion seriously.
The Silence telegraphs its focus, and is perhaps most impactful for Catholics aware of the tremendous sacrifices of the missionary orders and the fierce commitment they made to Matthew 28: 16-20. Actor Andrew Garfield has spoken extensively of the spiritual journey the making of the movie occasioned for him, and in so doing makes the impact of the movie extend far beyond its theatrical run.
The perversion of Islam lived out by Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev fueled the terrorist attack, murders and mayhem of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, and there is nothing of love and community in their violence. Patriots Day, with a particular sequence of scenes where Mark Wahlberg unburdens himself of grief and trauma as well as of resolve and hope, contrast the essence of true faith with the brothers’ perversion.
And the black church in segregated Virginia –with its community and prayerful support and courage– is the backdrop for the triumphant story of three “hidden” American heroes of the space program.
Authentic, God-centered faith inspires courage and community. Perverted faith yields violence and hatred. Whatever one’s doctrines, if all of Hollywood’s film’s held on to that one truth –genuine faith appears in love, courage and kindness, never in violence and hatred– it would be a huge and welcome revolution in what we consider to be “God” movies, and in doing so it does not have to answer the question of which is the “true” faith. Whatever we discover the “true faith” to have been on the other side of the mortal coil, it will have nothing to do with violence and hatred.
A good season for Hollywood. “Find the good and praise it” Alex Haley has inscribed on his tombstone. So a few kind words for Hollywood right now.
Note: After many years, I have left the masthead of The Washington Examiner. My final column for the website was about my new book The Fourth Way: The Conservative Playbook for a Lasting Republican Majority. That column is here. The collection of Examiner.com columns is here, extending back most of a very eventful decade, beginning in the second month of President Obama’s presidency and concluding a week before its end. Thanks to my friends at the Examiner for patience over the year with pressed deadlines. I liked to write on Saturday or Sunday morning for Sunday publication. All of my fine editors were generous in this regard.
I will announce a new editorial affiliation in a few weeks, but until then will post my weekend musings here. Usually late in the day Saturday. Sometimes Sunday. But rarely will I miss a deadline. Meanwhile, the new book drops in a week. I appreciate those of you have pre-ordered it. Thank you. For those of you waiting for the audio version, I recorded it myself and thus I have some “pick-uips” –audio corrections of mispronunciations which –though it seems odd since I wrote it won’t surprise my radio audience in the least– to do for the audio book but laryngitis has kept that from happening. I pray I get that done before pub date on 1/24.
A question: Is there a word for the sort of “audio dyslexia” I seem to have always had? Once I pick up a mispronunciation and am corrected on it, I can never recall which is the actual, correct pronunciation and thus waver, invariably mispronouncing the name or place or word a few different ways, even in the course of a single sentence (Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput and Rajiv Chandrasekaran have been the longest suffering, generous folks when it comes to this audio tick.) I can’t be the only person who is paralyzed by this internal debate on pronunciation in my head?)