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:
Two thousand years later, there is a huge body of Protestants who are agreeing only with themselves individually, a little bit here and a little bit there. There are 30,000 various Protestant 'churches' with their own theology and creeds. Even the Apostolic Church is in deep disagreement on some issues and has been for one thousand years.
Protestants agree with other (and with other christians) on far more than you think.
True Protestants churches (not the fringe groups) all agree on the centrality of Christ and His mission and message to save lost souls.
In fact, I think that you be hard-pressed to find many areas where Protestants don't agree ... and even those are areas where we agree ... to disagree.
The Church has failed miserably to stop secularization. In Europe 5% of the people attend church regularly. In America (some figures are over-inflated) the percentage is much higher, but America is a secular society through-and-through.
You call that a success? It's not the failure of the Spirit. We failed. Miserably.
Christ's mission was never to reform the world, ... but rather, ... to save souls out of the world.John 18:36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.At this point, by any honest christian's count, ... the church has been used by God to save countless millions, if not billions, ... out of this world.
37 Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.
I'd call that a rousing success.
*sigh* When you manage to get the criteria of my argument correctly, maybe we'll get somewhere: I am not arguing for the MT, which is just one tradition out of at least three, but for the Hebrew text. Ergo, both quotes consistent with the MT and quotes that are evidentially self-translations from the Hebrew but do not agree with the LXX are admissible.
Moreover, I am not arguing that the NT authors did not use the LXX as their default translation any more than I would claim that Chuck Missler does not use the KJV as his default translation. What I am arguing is that they did not consider the LXX to be Divinely correct, since out of the instances in which there is real disagreement between the LXX and the Hebrew (that is, the actual sense of the words in all existent Hebrew texts, including the DSS, are different from the sense of the words in the LXX), they side against the LXX between almost half to a third of the time, to judge by how often even this LXX proponent seems to err in imagining a difference where there is none.
Even limiting myself to MT quotes, I can cite Matthew (2:15, 11:10) and John (19:37) in addition to Sha'ul's letters. Under my actual criteria rather than your strawman parody of it, Mark likewise did not always agree with the LXX (12:29-30), but did his own rendering of the text.
So right off the bat, your premise that only Sha'ul the Pharisee ever disagreed with the LXX is shown to be completely fallacious.
You do not go to anything that looks for historical continuity with the Aposotles if your basic theology is Baptist, as I suspect it to be.
Actually, my basic theology is Messianic Judaism--and my historical continuity with the Apostles, who were all Torah-observant Jews as the book of Acts attests, is a heck of a lot closer than yours.
In other words, the Church as a whole deprecated the Jewish tradition even though it did not wish to purge it.
They didn't deprecate Jewish tradition as a whole--you'll notice how Ya'akov (James) was concerned at the false rumor that Sha'ul was teaching Jews not to follow the customs of their people (Acts 21:21). What they did is cast aside certain traditions which contradicted the Torah (like refusing fellowship with believing Gentiles) and refused to enforce as binding others that added to the Torah (in accordance with Deu. 12:32).
In generall, Christ and the Apostles did not mind the Christian Tradition at all, and when used in the general sense, as in 2 Thess 2:14, it is praised.
Tradition is a fine thing, a connection to our ancestors . . . as long as it neither adds to nor takes away from God's commandments. This is why I reject both the RCC and the EOC as being the "true" Church: Your traditions contradict God's commands in the Torah, which were never annulled in the NT.
As for 2 Thess 2:14, I see nowhere where Sha'ul defines what traditions he had in mind. Most likely he was referring to those traditions which came to be enshrined in the Gospel accounts, since they weren't written at that time. He may have been referring to something else. But I'm pretty sure that moving the Sabbath or iconography wasn't what he had in mind, since that would by definition make him a false prophet (Deu. 12:32-13:5).
They were using the Septuagint alongside with the Hebrew scripture, did they not?
Alongside, yes, as a translation for those who did not speak Hebrew, the same way we use an English translation--but not in place of the Hebrew, which their rabbis (religious leaders) were expected to know so that they could teach correctly from the Tanakh.
They read the Deuterocanon. So should we.
They did not speak of the Apocrypha with the terms that indicated that they thought it Scripture, nor did they build doctrine upon them. Neither should we.
I won't get into what +John Chrysostomos was sermonizing against save to say it wasn't the Jews, it was the Judaizers which I suspect in his times meant the messianic jews based on what you have said.
That was in fact what set him off: Apparently, quite a few Gentile Christians were joining their Jewish brethren in keeping God's Appointed Times. Since by this point the definition of "Judaizing" had morphed from the Biblical definition of "formally undergoing the ritual of circumcision to become a Jew in order to be saved" to "keeping the Torah"--which would of course make the Messiah and all of the Apostles Judaizers and heretics by the fourth-century Church's standards.
Therefore, the so-called "Golden-Mouthed" wrote his eight Homilies Against the Jews, which you can read here if you'd like. We can see his purpose in his opening homily:
(I.4) . . . Another very serious illness calls for any cure my words can bring, an illness which has become implanted in the body of the Church. We must first root this ailment out and then take thought for matters outside; we must first cure our own and then be concerned for others who are strangers.Interesting, isn't it, that the mere thought of Christians keeping the same Feasts that their Lord kept, doubtless wanting to know more about Him and the way He lived, set him off so?
(5) What is this disease? The festivals of the pitiful and miserable Jews are soon to march upon us one after the other and in quick succession: the feast of Trumpets, the feast of Tabernacles, the fasts. There are many in our ranks who say they think as we do. Yet some of these are going to watch the festivals and others will join the Jews in keeping their feasts and observing their fasts. I wish to drive this perverse custom from the Church right now.
Read his work. Isn't it evident that in his mind the very concept of "Messianic Jew" is an oxymoron? It's not surprising. In his day the Church had adopted a stance of reconciliation towards the Roman Empire and hostility towards the Jewish people--even those who were believers in the Messiah Yeshua.
He calls the Jews demons (Homily I.vi.3), and repeatedly condemns them as the slayers of Christ--it apparently misses his attention that Yeshua Himself said, "No one takes [My life] from Me, but I lay it down of Myself" (John 10:18) and "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do" (Luke 23:34). He takes that which God commanded them to do, like the daily sacrifices, and twists it into a sin upon them. He acts as if those in the Bible who were righteous weren't Jews themselves.
In other words, he twists the Scriptures into an anti-Semitic parody of themselves. So I have no respect for him, and it saps my respect for the fourth-century church that they dubbed such a twit "the Golden-Mouthed."
Uh, no, he didn't. Haven't you actually read Kefa's own interpretation of his vision? "You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean" (Acts 10:28).
Kefa himself said that his vision had nothing to do with food; that was just the symbol God used. Further, Kefa quotes the following in his first epistle: "Be holy, because I am holy" (1 Pt. 1:16). Now go look up where that phrase occurs:
Lev. 11:44-45 - right in the middle of the kosher commandments.Hmm . . . he seems to have liked the kosher commandments, since two out of the three places he could have been referring to give them (two out of two if we consider Lev. 19 & 20 to be of a piece, as I do).
Lev. 19:2 - heading up a section which reiterated commandments ranging from keeping the Sabbath, to treating your neighbor correctly, to not eating anything with blood (v. 26), a commandment linked back to the kosher laws.
Lev. 20:7 - heading up a second section reiterating commandments of both sexual purity and the kosher laws.
So, no, Kefa was most certainly not getting, "Go have a pork and lobster sandwich" out of his vision.
The moving of the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday has nothing to do with St. Paul either.
It had nothing to do with any Apostle, nor the Lord, since no such change of the commandment is so much as mentioned in the NT--and in fact, Heb. 4:1-11 makes a point of saying that we should still rest from our works on the seventh day as God did from His.
"Read his work. Isn't it evident that in his mind the very concept of "Messianic Jew" is an oxymoron?"
Indeed I have read his work; everything extant several times over. Christian Orthodoxy's roots are deep in Judaism, but we are not Jews of any kind and our covenant with God is not the covenant God made with the Jews. And yes, I do think to his mind the idea of a Messianic Jew is an oxymoron, but I believe he felt this way because to him if one believed that Christ was the Messiah, if one could sincerely pray the Creed, then one was not a Jew but rather a Christian. If one claimed to believe in the Messiah/Christ and could not recite the Creed and accept the The Church as the only sure venue of theosis, one was a heretic and heresy destroyed and destroys souls. He and the other Fathers, both before and after him, were equally outspoken about other heretics. By the way, I agree with him at least to some extent.
"So I have no respect for him, and it saps my respect for the fourth-century church that they dubbed such a twit "the Golden-Mouthed."
He is my patron saint. I celebrate my name day on his feast day and his icons hang in my home and office. I doubt we could be further apart in our estimations of him.
Good reply, Quester. They really don't understand that Protestants are just as in good stead as they are and will also be in heaven, if they put their faith in trust in Jesus. Sigh.
You are presuming that it was there to be translated. You are presuming that the Pharisaical Hebrew text is the only "true" text and if it appears in the Masoretic it must have been in all of them.
You are also suggesting that the Apostles, knowing that tzur was 'erased' by the scholars who translated the OT into Greek 300 years before Christ, would use LXX nonetheless almost exclusively! You are suggetsing that the Apostles would have used a book that 'defaces' the name of God! Good Lord, A-G, this one takes the cake!
I know, +Peter was in a "trance." Sometimes, biblical stories amaze me.
The problem I see with this (rather convenient vision) is why did God bother giving Moses the Law? In the Hebrews, it is clear that it was not the Covenant with God that was at fault but that the people of Israel made it faulty. The New Covenant prophesied in the Old Testament is for for the Jews, as the Old One was, and not for the Gentiles.
I am certain, he said the Christians are not under the Law but under grace. In that same verse he said that because of this sin will not be their master (what a thing to say! Did God give Jews the Law so that sin may be their master?)
Where were they in disagreement?
Apparently they did not all have the same 'visions' (yet), so it took some gentle persuasion to resolve their inspired differences.
How then could it even enter your mind that grace and Judaism, built upon the Torah, are mutually exclusive?
Because there is no verse in the OT that says so? Judaism does not believe man needs to be saved. One does not even have to believe. If man is 'saved' it is because he was compassionate and merciful; certainly not by faith alone (as +Paul teaches).
In a beautiful simplicity, Judaism teaches that man is made acceptable to God, by his deeds, regardless if he is observant or not.
You speak of pre-Christ Judaism as a monolithic religion. If anything, Judaism was a sectarian religion, with widely divergent sects teaching and preaching very different stories. Of all these only the Pharisees survived and morphed into rabbinical Judaism known to us. Their counterparts in the Sadduccee ranks denied salvation and resurrection, immortality of the soul, and so on. You treat Pharisaical Judaism as the only true Judaism. I do not agree with that.
This is not a discussion about Judaism, but about +Paul 'freeing' Christians from the Law. Did God make the Law so that man can dispose of it?
Whatever you say, fact remains that Christians by the end of the 1st century did not consider themselves Jews and, in fact, while the Apostles were still walking the earth did everything to distance themslevs from the 'hypocrites' (as the 1st century Didache refers to the Jews).
Your Bible stops at Hebrews?
Between AD 44 and 65, +Paul was visiting Cappadocia, Ephesus, Greece and Rome preaching 'his gospel.' The eyewitness Gospels were not even written by that time. By the time +Peter arrived in Rome the Christians were not identified as the Jews but as an altogether different religion. To say that anyone but +Paul is responsible for that is naïve at best.
I'd say that summarizes is very well.
Paul wrote a letter to the Ephesians that is one of deepest pieces of literature ever penned by the hand of man.. ANY MAN..
Bits and pieces.
As for 'other Christians' (like Catholic and Orthodox), we agree with mainline Protestants on the Holy trinity and Dual Nature of Christ. This is where out agreement ends. Including the Bible versions.
Christ's mission was never to reform the world, ... but rather, ... to save souls out of the world.
That's why His parting words were "Baptize all nations..." from paganism into true faith. I would call that reforming the world. Since then, many have been saved by the Church, and many have been destroyed in the name of Christ.
The evidence that the apostles understood tzur (ha tzur) to be a proper name of God is in the New Testament, for instance.
And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed [it] unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Matt 16:17-18
Moreover, I declare that has lead to millennia of misunderstanding and lost spiritual joy not only of the two passages from Christs testimony above but also in understanding the Old Testament.
Consider anew, with the Spiritual eyes of Christ, this passage understanding God is the Rock, Jesus on the Cross, Living Water (John 4, 7:38):
LOL! I suppose if I had a vote, it would be for Kinky Friedman. :)
Thank you very much for your kind words.
LOL. Sounds suspiciously like Bill Clinton singing. I've wondered what he was up to since he's been out of sight for awhile. Maybe he's hanging out with Garth Brooks.
Amen and absolutely. Good post, Blogger. Even on an issue as "big" as baptism itself, I have no problem with others of like minds who have different views. We all agree that it's not salvific.
Probably not. We'll leave it at that then.