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Christians keep Hollywood profitable.
National Catholic Register ^ | 10 December 2005 | the Editors, National Catholic Register

Posted on 12/10/2005 4:37:25 AM PST by Aussie Dasher

That’s what Barbara Nicolosi, who teaches Christians the art of screenwriting, told Godspy, an online magazine, in a recent interview.

“A Christian project saved the global box office from 2001 to 2003 with Tolkien’s trilogy, The Lord of the Rings. Then another Christian project, The Passion of the Christ, saved the global cineplexes in 2004. And yet another Christian story is going to save the entertainment industry this year with C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.”

That’s the movie that opens Dec. 9 and is based on the novel by Christian apologist C.S. Lewis, the 20th-century Anglican author who brought many people into the Catholic Church, though he never joined them.

Nicolosi is right, but there’s more: Christian audiences have always proved Hollywood’s most lucrative.

Look at the highest grossing films of all time (adjusted for inflation).Three of the top 10 have Catholic themes: The Sound of Music, The Ten Commandments and The Exorcist. Half of the top 10 are family films.

The list of the top 100 is also full of surprises. Ben Hur comes in ahead of huge blockbusters like Return of the Jedi and Jurassic Park. The Bells of St. Mary’s beats Return of the King and Spider-Man 2. And the amount of money taken in by The Passion of the Christ beats the legendary success of Revenge of the Sith, Harry Potter and the first two Lord of the Rings movies.

With that kind of record, Catholics ask, why doesn’t Hollywood make more movies for us? But that’s a little like asking, “If books by saints sell so well, why don’t more authors become saints?” The better question is: Why don’t Catholics make more movies for Hollywood?

After all, communicating about God through art is a Catholic specialty. Even more than other Christians, Catholics appreciate the value of sounds, sights and smells to teach spiritual lessons. The Church uses images, stories and significant actions to convey spiritual realities. So do artists.

It should be no surprise that, in the golden years of Hollywood, Catholic filmmakers like John Ford, Frank Capra, Fred Zinnemann and others dominated the new art form.

What happened after that? Some remained, but as dissenting Catholics. Others turned against the Church angrily and criticized it. In many cases, believers were squeezed out by an insular Hollywood culture. But sins of omission probably played the biggest role in leaving Hollywood bereft of Catholic influence.

After all, to end up with a Catholic artist whose work draws power from a sacramental worldview, you need to start out with a Catholic who has been told what the sacraments are in the first place. Polls suggest that, for the past two decades, the Church hasn’t done a very good job of catechizing.

Thus, movies, like the other arts, are another casualty of the Church’s failure to catechize Catholics in the 1960s and ’70s. But that may be changing.

The pontificate of Pope John Paul II brought about a seismic shift in the Church. Now, a seismic shift isn’t an earthquake — it’s a shift deep down in the earth that starts inevitable changes that aren’t obvious until later. By teaching courageously and inspiring a youth movement, John Paul quietly but surely changed the direction of the Church at its most fundamental level.

After the long pontificate of John Paul, yesterday’s energetic dissenters are out of energy, and the catechism teachers who were too embarrassed to catechize are more likely to be replaced by World Youth Day veterans excited by the faith.

And as young people are slowly becoming catechized again, they are growing up in a new cultural environment. Our children met Eucharistic adoration proponent J.R.R. Tolkien because he’s a top draw at the theater. They associate Mel Gibson with Jesus Christ and the cross, not Mad Max and Lethal Weapon. For our children, an allegory about Christ is the movie sensation of this winter.

Yes, these improvements in catechesis and in the culture are small, incremental changes now. But if the number of Catholics who know their faith and see it validated by the culture keeps growing incrementally, it will one day hit a critical mass and begin growing exponentially.

We might be surprised to find that the seismic changes started by Pope John Paul II will move mountains in our lifetime.

Today, Christians are saving Hollywood at the box office. Tomorrow, movie theaters might just be one more place Christians save the culture.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; News/Current Events; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: christianity; christians; hollywood; lotr; movies; narnia; thepassion
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Is Hollywood a lost cause, and not worth saving?
1 posted on 12/10/2005 4:37:26 AM PST by Aussie Dasher
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To: Lil'freeper

Ping


2 posted on 12/10/2005 4:59:09 AM PST by big'ol_freeper ("Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought." Pope JPII)
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To: Aussie Dasher

Who really cares what Hollywood thinks? All these hacks come out there. Hollywood is controlled by people who hate Christianity in general. It‘s not a secret, OK? And I‘m not afraid to say it. It‘s about Jesus Christ, and it‘s about truth. It‘s about the messiah.

Hollywood likes anal sex. They like to see the public square without nativity scenes. I like families. I like children. They like abortions. I believe in traditional values and restraint. They believe in libertinism. We have nothing in common. But you know what? The culture war has been ongoing for a long time. Their side has lost.


3 posted on 12/10/2005 5:02:38 AM PST by Beth528
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To: Aussie Dasher
Three of the top 10 have Catholic themes: The Sound of Music, The Ten Commandments and The Exorcist. Half of the top 10 are family films.

I don't know that I'd call The Ten Commandments 'Catholic.'

4 posted on 12/10/2005 5:05:03 AM PST by atomicpossum (Replies should be as pedantic as possible. I love that so much.)
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To: Aussie Dasher

Is Hollywood a lost cause, and not worth saving?....... yup... Always has


5 posted on 12/10/2005 5:07:21 AM PST by Prophet in the wilderness (PSALM 53 : 1 The FOOL hath said in his heart , There is no GOD .)
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To: Beth528

You saw a version of "Spider-man" that I totally missed.


6 posted on 12/10/2005 5:10:23 AM PST by yayforlater
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To: Aussie Dasher
"Three of the top 10 have Catholic themes: The Sound of Music, The Ten Commandments and The Exorcist."

I can't wait to see someone tell me the Catholic theme of "The Ten Commandments".
7 posted on 12/10/2005 5:13:11 AM PST by AlGone2001 (He's not a baby anymore...)
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To: Aussie Dasher
I see nothing coming from Hollywood today, that gives one hope of its returning to the standards of public decency that it once held.

I love films that have no obscenity or sexual content, ala Alfred Hitchcock.
8 posted on 12/10/2005 5:14:21 AM PST by aligncare (Wasted my time...got my Journalism degree)
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To: Aussie Dasher

Among all the dreck and degradation are some nice little gems of movies.

This year The Great Raid with Benjamin Bratt was a good one.

In years gone by there was
The Rookie with Dennis Quaid
October Sky
Frequency with Dennis Quaid and Jim Caviezel was a thriller that centered on family helping family and family healing.
Luther with Joseph Fiennes was a well done Protestant film.
Conagher with Sam Elliott and Katherine Ross
Forever Young with Mel Gibson and Jamie Lee Curtis had modern moments seen through the eyes of someone raised in an era when decency was the norm.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding was family centered
Return to Me with David Duchovny and Minner Driver was heart warming.
Signs with Mel Gibson was faith based
Spanglish with Adam Sandler and Tia Leone is a movie for real grown ups, one where moral values are the lifelines.
We Were Soldiers with Mel Gibson was a true story with faith a part of the story.
50 First Dates with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore was charming
National Treasure with Nicolas Cage was pretty good
Ice Age was cute


9 posted on 12/10/2005 5:15:11 AM PST by patriciaruth (http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1346573/posts)
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To: Beth528

With all due respect, I don't see that their side has lost - yet.


10 posted on 12/10/2005 5:17:41 AM PST by aligncare (Wasted my time...got my Journalism degree)
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To: AlGone2001
...I can't wait to see someone tell me the Catholic theme of "The Ten Commandments"...

And the Exorcist merely used catholics as props in the framework of the story.

11 posted on 12/10/2005 5:23:34 AM PST by aligncare (Wasted my time...got my Journalism degree)
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To: aligncare

Vertigo (Hickcock) had sexual content.


12 posted on 12/10/2005 5:25:46 AM PST by patriciaruth (http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1346573/posts)
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To: patriciaruth

Sorry, films of the caliber you mention, are few and far between.


13 posted on 12/10/2005 5:27:04 AM PST by aligncare (Wasted my time...got my Journalism degree)
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To: Beth528

The culture war has been ongoing for a long time. Their side has lost.>>

40 million aborted babies disagree.


14 posted on 12/10/2005 5:27:06 AM PST by Appalled but Not Surprised
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To: aligncare

I do the screening, and pass on advice to others of where the wheat is to be found in all the chaff.

Anybody else have suggestions for decent modern films?


15 posted on 12/10/2005 5:29:36 AM PST by patriciaruth (http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1346573/posts)
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To: patriciaruth
Life has sexual content. I refer to explicit content. And, scripts that seem to run out of regular words - so they just insert curses.
16 posted on 12/10/2005 5:33:43 AM PST by aligncare (Wasted my time...got my Journalism degree)
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To: aligncare
When there were standards, writers and directors would respect the viewer by leaving somethings unseen or unspoken, leaving the audience to use its own imagination.
17 posted on 12/10/2005 5:45:52 AM PST by aligncare (Wasted my time...got my Journalism degree)
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To: aligncare
I love films that have no obscenity or sexual content, ala Alfred Hitchcock.

I guess that was sarcasm? :-)

18 posted on 12/10/2005 5:46:01 AM PST by atomicpossum (Replies should be as pedantic as possible. I love that so much.)
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To: aligncare
With all due respect, I don't see that their side has lost - yet.

If they win, Western Civilization will be finished.

19 posted on 12/10/2005 5:47:34 AM PST by stevem
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To: patriciaruth; aligncare
Vertigo (Hickcock) had sexual content.

North by Northwest gets a might racy.

Psycho talks about incest, and sexual lust.

Marnie has a rape scene, and quite a bit more.

Frenzy has a lot of sex and violence interwined.

Hitch was a bit of a dirty old man. He just wrapped a good film around the dirty bits.

20 posted on 12/10/2005 5:50:06 AM PST by atomicpossum (Replies should be as pedantic as possible. I love that so much.)
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To: Aussie Dasher

Rome was worth saving & that was worse than Hollywood.


21 posted on 12/10/2005 5:53:12 AM PST by Tribune7
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To: Aussie Dasher

Yes. Alternative media venues are in the wings but they need financial backing and outlets. Give it time...


22 posted on 12/10/2005 6:04:57 AM PST by WorkingClassFilth (The problem with being a 'big tent' Party is that the clowns are seated with the paying customers.)
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To: Tribune7
Whats a movie?? lets face facts what was a movie in 30's 40's 50's and 60's is no longer the "movie" of today. There is no fear in Hellwood they produce what sends the message (anti capitalism, anti American, anti Judeo - Christian )they want- profits or no. Hellwood will not get one red cent from me. The day Disney had GAY DAYs at it's theme parks was the day the Movies died. Do not support the entertainment industry . Disney has for me killed itself with it's pedophile directors (powder) and such at it's touchstone group.
23 posted on 12/10/2005 6:06:44 AM PST by ConsentofGoverned (if a sucker is born every minute, what are the voters?)
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To: patriciaruth

Blast From The Past was a cute movie, with Brendan Frazier (I think that's his name) and Alicia Silverstone.

Thanks for your list.


24 posted on 12/10/2005 6:08:40 AM PST by baseballmom
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To: Aussie Dasher
I have never seen lord of the rings; I always believed it has witchcraft, but here they say it has a Christian message? Can somebody tell me if this is the truth?
25 posted on 12/10/2005 6:10:31 AM PST by gedeon3
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To: atomicpossum
Yes, but he used oblique references - nothing explicit.

Even the shower scene in 'Psycho' was out of focus, and left mostly to the imagination.

Adults seeing 'Marnie' understood that a rape had occurred, but again - nothing explicit was seen...

You sound as if you are defending Hollywood's slide into the gutter. Hollywood should respect audiences, as the early writers and directors had. They are not doing that today.

One can not even watch tv programs or commercials today, without having his values insulted.
26 posted on 12/10/2005 6:24:35 AM PST by aligncare (Wasted my time...got my Journalism degree)
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To: gedeon3

Tolkien was deeply Christian, and a member of the Inkling's along with C S Lewis. While Lewis intended to write an allegory with his Narnia series, Tolkien's aim with the Lord of the Rings was to write a heroic myth for England. So TLOTR is not specifically Christian

Having said that, Tolkien's faith can be seen throughout his books. The main characters all exhibit Christ like self sacrifice for others, evil is fought at great cost, there is no compromise with evil, etc. His book the Silmarillion with the creation story for Middle Earth is a little more obviously Christian ( or at least theistic)


27 posted on 12/10/2005 6:29:04 AM PST by Mom MD
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To: gedeon3
Lord of the rings is standard good triumphs over evil stuff, which I guess is one of the themes of every religion on the planet, past and present. As regards to witchcraft, magic is used by both sides.

It could be that Tolkien was a Christian (I don't know and honestly don't care) and if so it would be a shame if any particular group hijacks his work to further their own agenda, especially in the case of Tolkien and Lewis, who are no longer alive to argue for or against.
28 posted on 12/10/2005 6:31:42 AM PST by toadthesecond
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To: aligncare

If you look at the "Devil" movies like "Rosemary's Baby", "Exorcist", "Devil's Advocate", "Damien", or any of the Grade-B ones on the 70's one thing strikes you about them. God is completely and totally out to lunch. He is no help at all. The humans are completely on their own. In fact, religion is reduced to sorcery with crosses and holy water as magical talismans and prayer as spells.

But let's add to this list of Catholic inspired movies. What about the Irwin Allen disaster movies ? Where the prophet prophesies doom and calls upon the people to follow him to salvation and they angrily refuse and immediately thereafter are striken dead for their sin ? Like the people in the ballroom of the Poseidon who angrily refused to follow Gene Hackman because "help is on the way". And drowned like rats in a rain barrel minutes afterward.


29 posted on 12/10/2005 6:34:07 AM PST by Sam the Sham (A conservative party tough on illegal immigration could carry California in 2008)
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To: gedeon3
Yes, I suppose in the liberal mind of today Lord of the Rings would qualify as having themes that are similar to religious themes...The stuggle between good and evil. But, that's as far as it goes.
30 posted on 12/10/2005 6:34:15 AM PST by aligncare (Wasted my time...got my Journalism degree)
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To: baseballmom

Constantine was a little theologically muddled, but the final message is that God forgives...


31 posted on 12/10/2005 6:35:52 AM PST by wizardoz
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To: Aussie Dasher
Hollywood is not worth saving. Surely there's got to be some other region in the country where a film industry could get off the ground and shed the decadent baggage of the California fairyland.

It's become a tautology: you want to get into film, you have to go to Hollywood. Why? Because that's where all the film people are. Surely conservatives have demonstrated they have the clout to support an alternative.

32 posted on 12/10/2005 6:49:27 AM PST by IronJack
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To: Sam the Sham
Thank you Sam. Your last point is especially good. Intellectuals love to talk among themselves about allegorical themes in films. To the rest of us...regular folk...they often seem to be just an insult to our traditions and values. We're not smart enough to understand, I guess.
33 posted on 12/10/2005 6:50:08 AM PST by aligncare (Wasted my time...got my Journalism degree)
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To: patriciaruth

The films of yesteryear may have had sexual content,
but they did not show nudity or people in bed together.
They left it up to the imagination.


34 posted on 12/10/2005 6:52:22 AM PST by redherring
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To: Aussie Dasher

And if you add the Irwin Allen disaster movies with their Jeremiah themes, which were practically the only reliable money makers Hollywood had when it was losing money on hippie movies and overblown musicals, you get an even bigger total.


35 posted on 12/10/2005 6:52:41 AM PST by Sam the Sham (A conservative party tough on illegal immigration could carry California in 2008)
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To: aligncare

Thanks.


36 posted on 12/10/2005 6:53:52 AM PST by gedeon3
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To: aligncare

In Irwin Allen movies the disaster is always caused by human pride and sin. The Poseidon sank because the bean counters stinted on the cost of ballast and the corporate weasal insisted on overruling the captain. The towering inferno was a monument to the pride of its builders, like the Tower of Babel (get it ? tower ?).


37 posted on 12/10/2005 6:58:02 AM PST by Sam the Sham (A conservative party tough on illegal immigration could carry California in 2008)
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To: gedeon3
I have never seen lord of the rings; I always believed it has witchcraft, but here they say it has a Christian message? Can somebody tell me if this is the truth?

Lord of the Rings is an epic tale of Good and Evil. The Good figures -- a wizard, some elves, a handful of men, and especially two "halflings" -- benefit from an occasional supernatural phenomenon. The forces of Evil -- mutant creatures, a vain wizard, corrupted kings of men, and a looming shadow of Ultimate Doom -- have their share of magical powers too.

But the conflict is between innocence, faith, and love versus treachery, tyranny, and lust for power. The Good Guys win.

Is that about witchcraft?

38 posted on 12/10/2005 6:58:59 AM PST by IronJack
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To: Aussie Dasher
Is Hollywood a lost cause, and not worth saving?

Why do people insist on trying to retrain these stubborn behemoths?

Why not look at this as an opportunity for Catholic/Christian filmmakers to form independent companies? If the support and the audience is there in such quantity, there should be no trouble finding all the necessary ingredients to give Hollywood a run for its money.

39 posted on 12/10/2005 7:00:15 AM PST by dbwz
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To: Aussie Dasher
Hollywood has to be reclaimed. At one time, movies were the very best representatives of the US. People were introduced to our culture by wholesome, all American stories that showed the very best of our society and reflected the ultimate American characteristic, the belief in a happy ending.

Kids would go to the movies and learned manners, ethics, honesty and other wonderful traits by watching. They learned that right triumphs over evil.

Today, kids see that evil is everywhere and that the bad guy has "redeeming qualities" and end up with the audience rooting for a guy with no values, a filthy mouth, and morals of an ally cat.

40 posted on 12/10/2005 7:02:48 AM PST by McGavin999 (Reporters write the truth, Journalists write stories.)
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To: Sam the Sham
God is completely and totally out to lunch. He is no help at all. The humans are completely on their own. In fact, religion is reduced to sorcery with crosses and holy water as magical talismans and prayer as spells.

I've noticed that too. In fact, even the trappings of religion don't work anymore. How many vampire movies have you seen in which the villain is shown a cross and simply slaps it away? Or when he actually enters a church and commits his foul deeds before the altar?

Not only do such portrayals reduce religion to a pathetic, ineffective institution, they belie the entire myth. Vampires are soulless; that's why they have no reflections in a mirror. The Cross is a reminder to them of their utter damnation: to wander the earth eternally, forced to find their sustenance in the lifeblood of others, yet to no ultimate end. Since they are not really alive (they are the Undead), they can never really die. Yet since they are soulless, they can never really live.

They are an abomination before God, and He will not suffer their presence. Nor can they tolerate His, in any form. The notion that one could ever enter sacred ground is absurd.

41 posted on 12/10/2005 7:06:59 AM PST by IronJack
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To: Prophet in the wilderness
Is Hollywood a lost cause, and not worth saving?....... yup... Always has

Hollywood did the Country proud during WWII. But, alas, not since.

42 posted on 12/10/2005 7:13:51 AM PST by ncountylee (Dead terrorists smell like victory)
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To: IronJack; aligncare

I once saw a message to Ebert where someone wondered why in vampire or Satan movies the priest was always Catholic or Orthodox. Well, if you are going up against Evil you want holy water and talismans and crosses and rosaries. You want real firepower. I'd like to see a vampire movie where the humans turn to the priest and discover with horror that he is just a Unitarian Universalist.


43 posted on 12/10/2005 7:27:58 AM PST by Sam the Sham (A conservative party tough on illegal immigration could carry California in 2008)
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To: patriciaruth

Coit tower? ;-)


44 posted on 12/10/2005 7:30:47 AM PST by Frank T
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To: gedeon3
I have never seen lord of the rings; I always believed it has witchcraft, but here they say it has a Christian message? Can somebody tell me if this is the truth?

Let the Professor speak for himself:

Replying to Father Robert Murray, who read Lord of the Rings before publication and was left with "a strong sense of 'a positive compatibility with the order of Grace,'" and compared Galadriel to the Virgin Mary:

I think I know exactly what you mean by the order of Grace; and of course by your references to Our Lady, upon which all my own small perception of beauty both in majesty and simplicity is founded. The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision. That is why I have not put in, or have cut out, practically all references to anything like 'religion', to cults and practices, in the imaginary world.

There are several more statements to the same effect in The Letters of JRR Tolkien, from which I drew my example, as well as Tolkien's opinions on the Church and some of his theology. (Not to mention his priceless reply to the Nazis when asked if he had any Jewish blood!)

As for witchcraft, well, there is a Witch-king. Which King? The King of Angmar. bada-boom

45 posted on 12/10/2005 7:32:22 AM PST by Caesar Soze
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To: Sam the Sham
I'd like to see a vampire movie where the humans turn to the priest and discover with horror that he is just a Unitarian Universalist.

LOL! It would be like being on the front lines when your foxhole buddy is armed with spitwads. I don't think the Undead will succumb to group hugs.

46 posted on 12/10/2005 7:33:58 AM PST by IronJack
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To: Sam the Sham
...I'd like to see a vampire movie where the humans turn to the priest and discover with horror that he is just a Unitarian Universalist.

...now, that's funny!

47 posted on 12/10/2005 7:57:58 AM PST by aligncare (Wasted my time...got my Journalism degree)
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To: Aussie Dasher

bump


48 posted on 12/10/2005 8:00:57 AM PST by VOA
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To: Aussie Dasher
Is Hollywood a lost cause, and not worth saving?

Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. Of course, there is tons of darkness out there...

49 posted on 12/10/2005 8:02:40 AM PST by NeoCaveman (Ken Blackwell for Governor, Ohio 2006)
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To: McGavin999
Thanks for expressing well, what I have been struggling to say on this thread.

Yes, yes, yes...those were the good old days. But, we've crossed so many lines now that we may not ever be able to return.

My heart aches for that lost America.

50 posted on 12/10/2005 8:28:49 AM PST by aligncare (Wasted my time...got my Journalism degree)
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