Skip to comments.'The Nativity Story' Movie Problematic for Catholics, "Unsuitable" for Young Children
Posted on 12/04/2006 7:52:47 PM PST by Pyro7480
'The Nativity Story' Movie Problematic for Catholics, "Unsuitable" for Young Children
By John-Henry Westen
NEW YORK, December 4, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A review of New Line Cinema's The Nativity story by Fr. Angelo Mary Geiger of the Franciscans of the Immaculate in the United States, points out that the film, which opened December 1, misinterprets scripture from a Catholic perspective.
While Fr. Geiger admits that he found the film is "in general, to be a pious and reverential presentation of the Christmas mystery." He adds however, that "not only does the movie get the Virgin Birth wrong, it thoroughly Protestantizes its portrayal of Our Lady."
In Isaiah 7:14 the Bible predicts the coming of the Messiah saying: "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign. Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel." Fr. Geiger, in an video blog post, explains that the Catholic Church has taught for over 2000 years that the referenced Scripture showed that Mary would not only conceive the child miraculously, but would give birth to the child miraculously - keeping her physical virginity intact during the birth.
The film, he suggests, in portraying a natural, painful birth of Christ, thus denies the truth of the virginal and miraculous birth of Christ, which, he notes, the Fathers of the Church compared to light passing through glass without breaking it. Fr. Geiger quoted the fourth century St. Augustine on the matter saying. "That same power which brought the body of the young man through closed doors, brought the body of the infant forth from the inviolate womb of the mother."
Fr. Geiger contrasts The Nativity Story with The Passion of the Christ, noting that with the latter, Catholics and Protestants could agree to support it. He suggests, however, that the latter is "a virtual coup against Catholic Mariology".
The characterization of Mary further debases her as Fr. Geiger relates in his review. "Mary in The Nativity lacks depth and stature, and becomes the subject of a treatment on teenage psychology."
Beyond the non-miraculous birth, the biggest let-down for Catholics comes from Director Catherine Hardwicke's own words. Hardwicke explains her rationale in an interview: "We wanted her [Mary] to feel accessible to a young teenager, so she wouldn't seem so far away from their life that it had no meaning for them. I wanted them to see Mary as a girl, as a teenager at first, not perfectly pious from the very first moment. So you see Mary going through stuff with her parents where they say, 'You're going to marry this guy, and these are the rules you have to follow.' Her father is telling her that she's not to have sex with Joseph for a year-and Joseph is standing right there."
Comments Fr. Geiger, "it is rather disconcerting to see Our Blessed Mother portrayed with 'attitude;' asserting herself in a rather anachronistic rebellion against an arranged marriage, choosing her words carefully with her parents, and posing meaningful silences toward those who do not understand her."
Fr. Geiger adds that the film also contains "an overly graphic scene of St. Elizabeth giving birth," which is "just not suitable, in my opinion, for young children to view."
Despite its flaws Fr. Geiger, after viewing the film, also has some good things to say about it. "Today, one must commend any sincere attempt to put Christ back into Christmas, and this film is certainly one of them," he says. "The Nativity Story in no way compares to the masterpiece which is The Passion of the Christ, but it is at least sincere, untainted by cynicism, and a worthy effort by Hollywood to end the prejudice against Christianity in the public square."
And, in addition to a good portrait of St. Joseph, the film offers "at least one cinematic and spiritual triumph" in portraying the Visitation of Mary to St. Elizabeth. "Although the Magnificat is relegated to a kind of epilogue at the movie's end, the meeting between Mary and Elizabeth is otherwise faithful to the scriptures and quite poignant. In a separate scene, the two women experience the concurrent movement of their children in utero and share deeply in each other's joy. I can't think of another piece of celluloid that illustrates the dignity of the unborn child better than this."
See Fr. Geiger's full review here:
I kind of agree with our Orthodox brothers on the quasi-philosophical discussion of the Eucharist per Acquinas. I wish it were not so analyzed as it cannot be known using the tools of reason.
However, I hope they can sympathize with the West and see, per this discussion, how the necessity arises.
Have done that many times in the past with no good result..
Have never seen it work to benefit here(FR either)..
I know what the RCC says it is already.. others say it isn't that..
I believe them..
And, yeah, precisely: there's a need for some explanation which deals with some of the misconceptions.
Would you put yourself in the "memorial" camp or in the Calvin/Cranmer "real presence in the believer" camp, or the "Virtual presence" or what? Gotta go get some firewood in. It's actually snowing in Virginia -- and it was 75F on Monday!
If it's not something we can discuss civilly then, yes, we should pass it by. You're right nothing in gained in flame wars.
i appreciate your reply.
He was incredible at it. St. Aquinas made huge contributions to the Church and to Western Civilization.
At the end though I think he wanted nothing more than to shut up, be still and know God.
Nor has it been lost among Christians who have long used the King James Translation which was faithful to interpret literally the Hebrew word tzur to mean Rock instead of God or Mighty One.
Ironically, the Christian hymn Rock of Ages is among their favorites.
Of all the possible errors a translator could make, seems to me that missing the mark on one of the names or titles of God has to be right up there. But I imagine that too is according to Gods plan, because when Christians and Jews do not understand that God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) is the Rock it can have (and evidently has had) a broad effect.
For the record, heres a few examples of the importance of Gods name(s)
I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive. John 5:43
I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. John 17:6
And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we [are]. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled. And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. John 17:11-13
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of [things] in heaven, and [things] in earth, and [things] under the earth; And [that] every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ [is] Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9-11
His eyes [were] as a flame of fire, and on his head [were] many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he [was] clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. Revelation 19:12-13
Thank you for sharing your insights and for all your pings!
"However, I hope they can sympathize with the West and see, per this discussion, how the necessity arises."
You Latins care way too much about what your disobedient and obstinate children think! You know what Aquinas is trying to explain and why. So do we. You think to explain The Mystery is important; we don't. "Protestants" often deny the Objective Truth of the Eucharist. We don't care, really, what they believe as long as they leave us and ours alone with our beliefs.
The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit(GOD) were alive and well far before human beings were created..
You know.. before Mary became pregnant.. and after the cross too..
Murdering GOD is just not possible..
But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.
And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her. Luke 10:38-42
The Sons of Mary seldom bother, for they have inherited that good part;
But the Sons of Martha favour their Mother of the careful soul and the troubled heart.
And because she lost her temper once, and because she was rude to the Lord her Guest,
Her Sons must wait upon Mary's Sons, world without end, reprieve, or rest.
It is their care in all the ages to take the buffet and cushion the shock.
It is their care that the gear engages; it is their care that the switches lock.
It is their care that the wheels run truly; it is their care to embark and entrain,
Tally, transport, and deliver duly the Sons of Mary by land and main.
They say to mountains ``Be ye removèd.'' They say to the lesser floods ``Be dry.''
Under their rods are the rocks reprovèd---they are not afraid of that which is high.
Then do the hill-tops shake to the summit---then is the bed of the deep laid bare,
That the Sons of Mary may overcome it, pleasantly sleeping and unaware.
They finger Death at their gloves' end where they piece and repiece the living wires.
He rears against the gates they tend: they feed him hungry behind their fires.
Early at dawn, ere men see clear, they stumble into his terrible stall,
And hale him forth like a haltered steer, and goad and turn him till evenfall.
To these from birth is Belief forbidden; from these till death is Relief afar.
They are concerned with matters hidden---under the earthline their altars are---
The secret fountains to follow up, waters withdrawn to restore to the mouth,
And gather the floods as in a cup, and pour them again at a city's drouth.
They do not preach that their God will rouse them a little before the nuts work loose.
They do not preach that His Pity allows them to drop their job when they damn-well choose.
As in the thronged and the lighted ways, so in the dark and the desert they stand,
Wary and watchful all their days that their brethren's ways may be long in the land.
Raise ye the stone or cleave the wood to make a path more fair or flat;
Lo, it is black already with the blood some Son of Martha spilled for that!
Not as a ladder from earth to Heaven, not as a witness to any creed,
But simple service simply given to his own kind in their common need.
And the Sons of Mary smile and are blessèd---they know the Angels are on their side.
They know in them is the Grace confessèd, and for them are the Mercies multiplied.
They sit at the feet---they hear the Word---they see how truly the Promise runs.
They have cast their burden upon the Lord, and---the Lord He lays it on Martha's Sons!
Perhaps. But, what would a Greek say to an obedient and not obstinate child who asked: "But it still tastes like wine"?
I don't argue with the Rock typology. How could I -- it makes the naming of Peter so much more significant.
However, among the translations the Septuagint has a special place, as it is the evidence of the Jewish Scripture at the time of Christ, and prior to the Council of Jamnia.
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God."- matt 5;9
Exactly, and you know why, right?
Oops. You and I were gonna let this drop if I remember right. Sorry.
I think the truth bleeds through... if you know what I mean.. ;)
Now I KNOW we're gonna let it drop.
"Perhaps. But, what would a Greek say to an obedient and not obstinate child who asked: "But it still tastes like wine"?"
You know, in rather more than 50 years, I have never heard any Orthodox, child or adult, say that. I don't think anyone thinks about the Eucharist that way. Remember, we receive our "First Communion" at baptism. Its something we grow up with so the idea that its the same thing as the wine at lunch or dinner doesn't really occur to us (its a sweet wine anyway, usually "Commandaria" or something like it so its not like its the sort of wine kids would have much to do with).
If some child did, I suspect the answer would be, "Yes, it does taste like wine, but its not. The Holy Spirit made it the blood of Christouli." The kid then asks, "How?" and we'd say, "Its a Mystery of God." and the kid would go away satisfied because Mysteries of God are not foreign to our kids.
Reading Galatians and understanding it is not a given..
The Judaizers(J) were taken on full force by Paul..
After all who could understand them better than Paul..
He used to BE one of them..
Paul in that book took them(J) to the whipping post and those fooled by them..
Judaizers or those following the works of/by tradition come in many colors..
Can a christian be a Judaizer?.. (Roman Catholic or Protestant)
Interesting question wouldn't you say?..
thanks very much.
A close friend said to me recently when we were discussing Orthodoxy, "We really don't live like Christians anymore." In context his meaning was close to what your reply describes.
And I think it is a great loss. I hope that over time it will cease to be true.
Yes. Who is disagreeing with that?
Earlier in the thread.. "a" subject was justification by works.. (by somebody)
Judaizer = justification by works..
For example, the Trinity is fundamentally incomprehensible. All we know is "unless we say THIS" or "if we permit ourselves to say THAT" we will miss the mystery and say something not only not true but confusing.
I don't think Thomas explains the Eucharist, I think he sets out the ground rules and, maybe more importantly, says what we DON'T say it is."
If the objecting child referred to downstream is old enough, we say,"Yes, it tastes exactly like wine (only sweeter - we also tend to go with sweeter wines), but what it tastes like is not what it is, any more than being stabbed by a needle is an attack, when it's a vaccination. It FEELS like torture. It isn't."
Then you smack him a good one. No. Wait.
"Then you smack him a good one. No. Wait."
I thought, given the delicate sensibilities of so many here on FR, I'd leave out the part about yiayia giving the kid a good beating with a wooden spoon, but hey, there's the truth of matter! :)
I'm at sea here. Do you think I am saying we are justified by works, that we earn salvation? Or is there some conneciton between Transubstantiation and "works-righteousness" that I'm missing?
Gives a whole new meaning to "The truth hurts."
Then please explain this:
Sorry, but the Church is wrong on this one. You won't find many Protestant churches agreeing with you.
"Gives a whole new meaning to "The truth hurts.""
Indeed it does, but I am covering for another attorney tomorrow AM on a couple of matters in court. His clients are gonna wish it were only yiayia with the wooden spoon by the time the judge gets done with them. Oh well, I get to go home! :)
This is me, and not any appeal to authority. I've always figured the "sin" in heterosexual lust was entertaining with approval (if not glee) the notion of using a child of God for my pleasure, self-esteem, yatta yatta. I mean, fish gotta swim, etc., and in general it's good thing that guys and gals and so forth. So it ain't the urge to merge itself which is sinful, but the urge to merge giblets without also joining selves in a muturally sacrificial and beneficial covenant inwhich God is the third party.
I have yet to meet a guy of the guy persuasion who has not committed this sin. Mind you. I haven't asked every guy I meet, so maybe that's wrong.
I do think that the homosexual urge to merge is intrinsically disordered, but that the urge itself is not so dreadfully culpabale; bad but not culpable; more a wound than a blow
Care to comment, edumicate, "share"?
Lust is sinful no matter who for by whom.
They're two separate issues.
I'm going to agree with you on the 'ground rules' part. We have to use words in some parts of teaching. And theology in large measure is reason applied to spirituality.
However, the way to know mysteries more fully is not with words or with the reasoning mind.
I think we have often lost this truth, and try to 'explain' the mystery using the wrong tools.
As Kosta, I believe it was, reminded us:
"You ask what is the procession of the Holy Spirit? Do you tell me first what is the unbegottenness of the Father, and I will then explain to you the physiology of the generation of the Son, and the procession of the Spirit, and we shall both of us be stricken with madness for prying into the mystery of God."
St. Gregory the Theologian
I enjoyed being a deputy very much. The security matters did not take enough of my brain (such as it is) to keep me from enjoying the legal and the human drama.
I have to say my favorite was general district court. Petty matters elevated to great drama and excitement. Constitutional issues brought up in a "Failure to wear seatbelt" case. Awesome.
We also had a great judge. IT was an education listening to him.
Help! I stuttered.
This is because, surprise surpise, theology is an empirical science. I have learned about grace mostly by being granted grace.
Do you know of Reformers who cry in the town square "Once Saved Always Saved" and then go out and lead a life of total depravity?
Well, I know of Luther who broke his vows by marrying a nun, a horrid thing in my humble opinion.
Many a Catholic pope, bishop, and priest has broken many a vow (commiting acts much more horrid than marriage) ... without any promise of OSAS.
I like that, gonna steal it. As for the Latin: um, umm, yeah.
"Man is a composite being, made up of an earthly body and celestial soul... The soul is closely united with the body, yet wholly independent of it.
Man is not only reason but also heart. The powers of these two centers, mutually assisting one another, render man perfect and teach him what he could never learn through reason alone. If reason teaches about the natural world, the heart teaches us about the supernatural world... Man is perfect when he has developed both his heart and his intellect. Now the heart is developed through revealed religion." +Nektarios of Aegina
1. Justification by faith period, not works.. or works of faith..
2. Never considered whether RCC transubstantiation was actually justification by works before... Interesting question.. I suppose it is.. Yes it is.. Good question.. Maybe thats what ticks me off about it..
But there are so many things in the RCC that appear to me to be the same... justification by works.. That the book of Galatians totally exposes.. Seeing Judaizers as other than certain Jews is a jump for some.. But its true.. There are many Judaizers both Roman Catholic, Protestant, Eastern Orthodox, Judeo-christian cultic practices too.. especially JW's and Mormans.. and more..
With that apologetic introduction: There are two things which gnawed at me. (1)What distinguishes us from the Jews, who think Messias has not come? We think he has come, justified us, and gone, and will come again at the end of the age. They think He has not come. We agree that he is not here.
(2)It is, I think, the nature of humans to be thoughtful. My sheep wavered between choices. You could see them "thinking over" whether to go where I wanted them to go or not. But they were essentially "passionate" animals. I could sometime influence their "decisions" by crouching down and staring at them, because being stared at by predatory eyes is something in their programming. If I this scared them into the handling chutes, the ones who were friendly did not hold my aggressive behavior against me, and the ones who were skittish were not tamed by any amount of affection.
We, however, not only learn, but choose to learn. We reflect on our behavior and decide to try something new. We can discover that we are able to "program ourselves not to be afraid" and then we can undertake the programming.
If God will save me as human, then (I thought) maybe He must save me into better thinking. YES, my will is ravished by the realization of His love. But if I am always ravished, how am I free?
I will eagerly admit that when the truth reveals itself clearly as truth, then I have no hesitation in yielding to its embrace.
But we are moral. I don't mean we are good, I mean we are creatures about whom it is relevant to ask if our actions are good or not, and what in heaven's name we were thinking when we did THAT? If a sheep makes bad decisions, It gets eaten. Even a mature ram, properly cooked, tastes good. I don't condemn him. I regret that he didn't do what I wanted from that ram, and I ask Nancy to pass the A-1.
But when we have to hang Saddam, I think we recognize there is a loss here, almost even a tragedy. Here was someone made to choose and rejoice in good, and he blew it, and never turned to the One who could make his failure an occasion of a great redemption. This is a sorrowful thing.
So, I thought, I want to choose God. Not only when He ravishes me and shows me the joy of His forgiveness and Love, but when He is not clearly consoling me and "all occasions do inform against me" and it is not easy to choose Him. (Haven;t we all had times when we felt God had left town and wsn't coming back? We "knew" that wasn't true, but it sure felt like that) I'd like to think that, threatened with Lions or nails on a blackboard or a dentist's drill in the hands of a sadist, I would still affirm my trust in Him. I implore Him, not only for salvation, but for the grace to Love Him more nearly and to show that love more fearlessly and resolutely day by day.
What I want from Him, is the ability to choose Him, just as a son, helped by his father to rake the leaves, longs to be able to rake the leaves by himself and, maybe, surprise the Father with what he's done.
Now I know that every single, without exception, good gift comes from the Father in Heaven. So my yearning and its fulfillment come from Him. I know that. I boast of that. I rejoice in that. I count on that. I hope one day to have the courage to stake my life on that.
And it is in this sense that I rely on Him to enable me to do good works.
Maybe you saw my other analogy, the one about the gym membership. When I come before God, I will kneel and then say, Look at these biceps! Look at these quads! Watch me do push-ups and chin-ups. This is your doing, and it is marvelous, at least in my eyes. That I worked and hurt and sweat and groaned, and finally saw my muscles getting bigger and my push-ups going from maybe seven to fifteen to twenty. -- all this I have from you, and now I give it back to you.
If that sounds like Judaizing, well, I'd like to know how.
Oh my, dearest brother in Christ, how carnally-minded you seem in these remarks! [WRT the spirit/donkey metaphor, who is riding whom here?] Of all people, I'd have thought you among the first to appreciate an absolutely rip-roaring divine miracle. As in "Isn't God cool or what?"
Just to remind you that God and His providential plan cannot be reduced to human (carnally-minded) categories of explanation. This is not to say that God is "unreasonable." There would be no reason in the world absent the Logos -- the Son, the Word of the Beginning, the Alpha and the Omega, the sacrificial Lamb of God, who paid the penalty for human sin thus giving each one of us a new start in the Life of the Spirit of God, mediator and comforter, so to be restored to our Father in the Holy Name of His Son: As the proverb of the Prodigal Son details, in the Body of Christ born of Christian Love ("born again" and ever renewed in faith, hope, and charity).
If you think I'm out of line here, then we need to talk! Meanwhile, I love you guy!
May God ever bless you for saying this, MadDawg. Anything that human beings have ever done in history is "empirical" if it's recorded and available for consultation. Even Richard Dawkins would have to grant this, or else the fossil record disappears.
But your second statement is what really hit home, in the Spirit of Truth. May God bless you, brother.
That is my great hope too, D-fendr.
Thank you for writing.