Thursday, January 30, 2014

The movie theater inquisitors need to stand down

First of all, I'm glad to report that Bookgirl (see post below) is doing much better!  She'll be updating her birthday post soon.  It's never fun to be sick on your birthday, but she handled it with grace and good humor--her trademarks!

Now, on to business.

Since the doctor told Bookgirl to take a few days off from school (and even though I'm a homeschooling mom I'm not foolish enough to think that a teenage girl who is getting over a stomach flu is in any condition to handle calculus), I've had a bit more time to read (both online and offline) these last couple of days.  Which is why I ended up reading pretty much all of the long and winding comment thread below this post of Mark Shea's (excerpt):
Just so it’s clear.  I haven’t boned up on geocentrism or Lizard Creatures in the Vatican or the Jewish International Banker conspiracy to create Nazism as a prelude to conquest of Palestine.  I have better things to do than read the turgid manifesto of a mass murderer.  These things will not occupy one moment of my waking thought, much less every moment for years and years.  Because that is the mark of a crackpot. ”Apostolates” like Church Militant TV should not be promoting and mainstreaming utter and complete crackpots.  But since they have chosen to do so, I heartily urge their growing audience of crackpots to make their thoughts and ideas about geocentrism and, especially, the Jewish conspiracy heard loud and clear in every American chancery and in Rome itself.  It’s long overdue that they receive the attention and reward they so richly deserve.

What Mark is referring to above is the upcoming movie The Principle, a movie that bills itself as "...destined to become one of the most controversial films of our time..." because it attacks the Copernican Principle and posits, instead, a universe with a fixed earth at the center (that is, geocentrism).  It is the work of geocentrists such as Robert Sungenis, a man with a B.A. in religion and an M.A. in theology; he also has a "Ph.D" from an alleged diploma mill in the South Pacific, but even that "degree" is in religious studies--in other words, he has no apparent scientific credentials at all.  Sungenis is also known to have a history of anti-Semitic beliefs and writings, but he is reported to have removed those writings from the Internet (though he is not believed to have apologized for any of them).

So why are Catholics even talking about The Principle?

Well, Michael Voris of Church Militant TV interviewed the producers, Robert Sungenis and Rick DeLano.  And Christine Niles at Forward Boldly interviewed Rick DeLano.  And Catholic forums and message boards have lit up with conversations about The Principle.  And the narrative seems to be shaping up as it often does: those supporting the movie and its producers start asking whether those who mildly point out, "You know, this is a movie about cosmology by mostly non-scientific people who believe NASA faked the moon landings and also crop circles as part of the efforts by the scientific community (controlled by shadowy forces) to make people doubt the Bible and who also think that JFK was assassinated by his wife and that reading the stars correctly will give us the date of the Second Coming...so why would you believe them on geocentrism?" are Real Catholics or not.

Let's get this stated, and as often and as clearly as possible: the Catholic Church does not teach that the Bible is to be interpreted literally or that Catholics must believe, as a matter of faith, that the Earth is the physical center of the universe.  A Catholic who shrugs at the idea of buying tickets to see a movie that claims to debunk Copernicus, Galileo, and Einstein is not being a Bad Catholic.  The Movie Theater Inquisitors need to stand down; there will never be a time when "Did you fail to go see The Principle?" will be asked by one's confessor, with the understanding that it was sinful not to buy a ticket, or something.

And, of course, the same thing is true about those who choose to see this movie--that is, it's no sin to go watch The Principle, provided that you're not shirking some important duty or other at the time (which is true of any entertainment choice we make).  At least, it's no sin to go see The Principle out of curiosity, or for fun, or because you have an actual Ph.D. in physics and could use the stress relief of seeing people other than your college students fail to grasp basic principles of cosmology, etc.; but if you are going to see The Principle because you already believe that mainstream science is, without exception, a vast conspiracy to poison the minds of the faithful and turn them against God and that this conspiracy is being run by the Jews, the Jesuits, the LCWR, the Illuminati, the Masons, or any other group of people you have decided you have a duty to hate and to fight against whatever the personal cost to you--you may be on much shakier moral ground, and ought to run your temptation to believe in conspiracy theories by your confessor just to be safe.

If any supporter of this movie reads this post, I suppose I'll be given the standard objection: But you haven't seen the film!  You can't possibly know how mind-boggling, how earth-shaking, how amazing it is!  You will be blown away by the reaction from the mainstream scientific community (conspiracy) as they run for cover--and you will have missed out on the glory of being a part of it all, even if that part was merely to collect a ticket stub as a relic for posterity!

To which I reply: Meh.  On the astonishingly tiny, 0.0000000000000000000000000000001% chance that this movie even makes one mainstream cosmologist scratch his forehead in a good way (as opposed to the Forehead Slap of Derision), I'll live with the consequences of not being able to tell my great-grandchildren that I Was There When....etc.  In the meantime, can't we all just agree that movie theater inquisitions aren't really proper behavior for good Christians, and that nobody should be told that his or her failure to support a film of dubious value produced by somewhat dodgy people is proof that he or she isn't a Real Catholic?

10 comments:

bjerabek said...

At first I thought this post was going to be a rant about how they check to see if you are smuggling candy/snacks into the cinema instead of buying their own.

David Sharples said...

Einstein's principle of Special Relativity, in which Physicists use the term "observer" as shorthand for a specific reference frame from which a set of objects or events is being measured -makes the argument over Our placement in the Universe mute.

Ironically Einstein's Theorem makes the whole past argument between Galileo and the Church, just plain silly.

A little bit of science may cause a person to loose Faith, but a lot of science will see him or her gain it back in a hurry; unless one happens to be arrogant….

David Sharples said...

Einstein's principle of Special Relativity, in which Physicists use the term "observer" as shorthand for a specific reference frame from which a set of objects or events is being measured -makes the argument over Our placement in the Universe mute.

Ironically Einstein's Theorem makes the whole past argument between Galileo and the Church, just plain Silly.

A little bit of science may cause a person to loose Faith, but a lot of science will see him or her gain it back in a hurry; unless one happens to be arrogant….

Red Cardigan said...

Oh, Fr. Jerabek, don't get me started on that one! :)

Red Cardigan said...

Come to think of it, that would be an interesting post. Is the movie theater patron who brings his or her own snacks engaging in a form of theft, or is the concession stand itself, with its outrageous pricing, a form of theft? My way of dealing with this has been a) see almost no movies in the theater and b) eat nothing while in the theater. :)

Pat said...

it's nice to chime in on something that won't shake the foundations of the church! I'm a New Yorker and New Yorkers go to the movies ALL THE TIME. But we never buy and eat those foodstuffs they sell.

I wish I had the guts to bring a bottle of wine and 2 good glasses like a friend of mine always does.

Cheers.

Shadowfax said...

Ha! I've been known to smuggle in a thermos with spiked hot cider on occasion.

The kids regularly sneak in dollar store candy, but we do usually allow ourselves to get ripped off on a big bucket of popcorn; it assuages our conscience to do our fair share of getting fleeced by the theater.

Deirdre Mundy said...

I have been known to buy my kids popcorn and soda on occasion--- Because here in Indiana, there are a number of movie theaters that charge almost nothing for first run movies and make all their money off the snacks.

Pat said...

$16/ticket in Manhattan. What do you pay in Indiana?

Deirdre Mundy said...

Our old town was $2 a ticket. In our new home, it's up to $4, but they have free movies pretty often in the summer and over breaks.