Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

ellwood & friends

By Diogenes (articles ) | Mar 20, 2004

Terry Mattingly discusses a film hastily rescued from the studio dumpster in order to cash in on The Passion:

Produced by the Catholic media pioneers at Paulist Productions, "Judas" began nearly a decade ago as one of the final projects of the late Father Ellwood "Bud" Kieser, founder of the Humanitas Prize. The goal was to create a mini-series called "Jesus and Company," which would tell the same story a number of times, only seen through the eyes of characters such as Peter, Mary Magdalene, Judas and others.

Emerging democracy buffs will remember Father Kieser's unintentionally hilarious Romero (1989), a propaganda film in the Soviet girl-meets-tractor tradition which, with all the subtlety of a Jack Chick comic, dishonors the memory of a murdered Salvadoran archbishop by turning him into a sanctimonious buffoon -- the Rev. Mr. Chadband with a Mexican accent.

The Jack Chick comparison is not made lightly. In their mental operations Kieser and Chick might be identical twins -- though ideologically separated at birth. In each the dominant characteristic is piety, and in each piety has taken the form of outraged indignation at the works of the ungodly. In both men this indignation acts as a kind of telephoto lens: it collapses all distance; there is no background or foreground to their world; all faults are sins and all sins are mortal. So, in Romero, the villanous U.S. soldiers not only machine-gun pregnant women, but smoke in poorly ventilated public areas!

Mattingly's mention of Kieser brought all this back to me. And it also called to mind a perceptive remark by film critic James Bowman, writing about another exercise in Leftist piety called The Other Sister:

Its purpose, in other words, is not to shock us (as real art does) with unexpected realities, or to make us see something new in the world, something true and something real, for the first time. Like propaganda and other forms of pseudo-art, it is instead an appeal to complacency, designed to make us feel good about ourselves and comfortable and self-righteous. We come away not with an increased sensitivity to others but with an increased pride in our own sympathies.

An appeal from our founder, Dr. Jeffrey Mirus:

Dear reader: If you found the information on this page helpful in your pursuit of a better Catholic life, please support our work with a donation. Your donation will help us reach seven million Truth-seeking readers worldwide this year. Thank you!

Progress toward our April expenses ($26,348 to go):
$35,000.00 $8,651.70
75% 25%
Sound Off! CatholicCulture.org supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 1 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: - Mar. 20, 2004 8:07 PM ET USA

    What a perceptive remark! I have been puzzling lately at the flood of vilification which has been heaped on Mel and his 'Passion', decrying it as "anti-semitic". I wonder greatly how these people(liberal Catholics and liberal Jews and just plain liberals) can continue to do that, knowing that millions upon millions of people have and will see it and know that the criticism is a lie. The answer is that to do so makes them and other liberals comfortable in their own anti-Christian bigotry.

Subscribe for free
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org
Shop Amazon

Recent Catholic Commentary

Mysteries, again and again! 22 hours ago
Tips for getting comfortable with evangelization April 17
The Shroud of Turin on Display (and an odd canonical case against it) April 16
The Vatican says the LCWR is acting Catholic. And that's news. April 16
The Truth about the Armenian Genocide April 15

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
Pope challenges world leaders' silence on persecution of Christians CWN - April 6
Pope outlines plans for the extraordinary jubilee of mercy CWN - April 13
Vatican completes doctrinal assessment of Leadership Conference of Women Religious CWN - April 16