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:
As a formulaic retort: Ours includes a Pope inspired by the Holy Spirit and a Church guided and prevented from error by the same Spirit.
Look, when JPII died and the Cardinals assembled I guess I was anxious. "What if they elect some bozo?"
It was then that I realized that becoming Catholic meant trusting that the Holy Spirit would guide the Church. It doesn't mean intentionally turning away from the Spirit and intentionally putting the Pope up in His stead. From without, that may be what it looks like. But from within it's not gee, door 1: Holy Ghost; door 2: Spirit of God.
Scripture is inspired by God and is infallible because God is infallible. The Pope is declared infallible because he and an apparition of Mary declared him infallible. History has shown MANY popes to be immoral reprobates. These popes all spoke to the church at times ex cathedra. Are we supposed to assume that they were infallible at the time they were clearly not being led by the Spirit in any other aspect of their lives? God does not lie. We as humans may get it wrong sometimes, but we don't speak in our own authority we speak by the authority of Scripture. FK, we also do not claim infallibility. Nor do we believe a Pope when he says he is infallible just because he says he is.
That said its certainly possible that they could elect abozo I mean look at Cadaver Synod?
In the soon to be announced Mad Dawg translation of the Scriptures, "And let the people say, 'I Copy. That's a 10-4!'"
True. So, Christ was born of Mary and the Holy Spirit, suffered, died, and rose again, and will come in glory to judge us; Christ gave St. Peter the keys to the kingdom and authority to the Church and promise that the Church built on St. Peter will obtain victory, and told it to preach to the world. To proclaim these you do not need a pope, it is straight from the scripture. I enumerated though the things on which, to avoid vainpopery, you need to become more modest:
Stick to "I think that the scripture without the oral tradition or the institution of the Church is sufficient for understanding Christ"; "I think that faith alone is necessary for salvation", "I don't think praying to saints is a good idea", etc.
Agree on the medical model, disagree on this. The superabundant merits as an expression is straight from St. Paul:
the law entered in, that sin might abound. And where sin abounded, grace did more abound.
as the sufferings of Christ abound in us: so also by Christ doth our comfort abound.
(2 Cor 1:5)
that the grace abounding through many, may abound in thanksgiving unto the glory of God.
(2 Cor 4:15)
if these things be with you and abound, they will make you to be neither empty nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(2 Peter 1:8)
The superabundant merit always refers to Christ. The merits of the saints are obtained through Him.
Yes, but the requests are not such that only Christ can give. Most certainly your friend Steve can give you strength, and protect you, and if he does, you will experience it.
I feel this attempted comparison is becoming more and more tortured. You don't really ask your friends for prayer in ANY way comparable with the way you pray to Mary, now do you? Be honest. Here are some other excerpts from the sanctioned prayers to Mary that Blogger posted:
"O Mother of God, Immaculate Mary, to Thee do I dedicate my body and soul, all my prayers and deeds, my joys and sufferings, all that I am and all that I have. With a joyful heart I surrender myself to Thy love. To Thee will I devote my services of my own free will for the salvation of mankind ..."
From now on my only desire is to do all things with Thee, through Thee, and for Thee.
Mary, you have chosen to remain with us by giving us your most wonderful and holy self-image on Juan Diego's cloak. May we feel your loving presence as we look upon your face. Like Juan, give us the courage to bring your message of hope to everyone. You are our Mother and our inspiration. Hear our prayers and answer us.
In the last one, notice who is supposed to answer the prayer. Is it God after Mary has passed along the request? No, of course not. Mary is supposed to grant the prayer herself. Maybe I have the wrong friends, but as far as I know, none of them have left their images on cloaks well after they've died. If you really want to compare this kind of language in prayer to asking a buddy for prayer, then all I can do is throw up my hands and shrug my shoulders. :) We both know how it happens in the real world. But if you want to believe it, then as BOR says, "We'll let the folks decide". :)
The point remains that nothing the saints do for us comes from their putative divinity.
To be honest, I don't know what to think. The types of requests being made are exactly of the same type that I ask only of God, not my friends. In fact, when I ask my friends for prayer, it is almost always for things that they could not possibly help with. For example, when I have a sick loved one, I ask my friends for prayer. They are not doctors, so there is nothing they can do. Would you ever ask Mary for help about a sick loved one? I'll bet you certainly would. This is the exact tone of the approved prayers to Mary that I have seen, and it is completely different. There is zero in the language that tells me the intent is "pass this along to God". Rather, it is "you do this for me yourself, please". That makes all the difference in the world to me.
(Noting that I haven't used any scripted prayers for praying to Mary since Catholic school, before I was baptised/became Orthodox)
When I ask any Saint to intercede it is exactly the way I would ask a freind (and typically in the same circumstances). A freind that I very much respect but a friend.
Well, I still say two from my Catholic school days, the Hail Mary and the Hail Holy Queen. Both of those are pretty clear that one is asking her to advocate for us before Christ. However...FK tell Kawaii and me what you think of this particular response which we use in various supplicatory canons to the Mother of God, "Most Holy Theotokos, save us!" :)
The point is that Mary is not God, and neither is she Steve. When I ask Mary to give me strength it is something she can give and so can Steve. When I "devote my services of my own free will for the salvation of mankind" to Mary but not to Steve it is because Mary gave us the Word for salvation of mankind, but Steve did not; and if Steve did something extraordinary for the salvation of mankind, then I would wish to devote my services to him too.
I am bringing the reader's attention to the dissonance here: the declaration is that the Protestants have zero popes, but the actual behavior is that they have a dosen thousand of them, if not more. If the declaration of zero-popes were followed, we would not have the spectacle of others telling us what veneration of saints is or what the Mass is, or the Scripture is.
Well, this goes to my original point, that you believe that there MUST be a Pope, under any belief system. When we give our views and cite scripture as the source, you say we are our own popes. You appear to be saying that we aren't allowed to give our views, unless we claim infallibility, etc. We don't claim infallibility, but we do claim confidence in scripture. It's perfectly fine if you disagree with our views, but they are not based on anything remotely resembling a self-imposed papacy.
IOW, it appears you have instituted a ruling that when we give our views it is only proper if we couch our language to be wishy-washy, and without certitude. If we declare scripture concretely, then we are popes. If we hedge our views as random opinions, then you will allow us to be lone wolves who are simply wrong. It isn't intellectually honest for you to use the Church to characterize our beliefs, but then when we use the Bible to characterize your beliefs, you claim we are self-proclaimed popes.
"If the declaration of zero-popes were followed, we would not have the spectacle of others telling us what veneration of saints is or what the Mass is, or the Scripture is."
You know, MD, I find myself in the odd position of siding with FK on this one. That is not to say that I think that personal revelations about the meaning of scripture are all equally valid as inspired by the HS. Demonstrably they are not. The default position, however, is not an infallible papacy but rather an infallible Church. In all honesty, I've always thought that the old Protestant saw about "Every man a pope", whatever its pedigree, is a very bad and misleading comment.
FK, you say that you don't claim claim infallibility, but you do calim confidence in scripture. Well, we all have that. With all due respect, while you don't claim infallibility, you certainly do claim, in the face of centuries of evidence to the contrary, that it is the HS which leads you individually to the proper understanding of scripture. I can understand how such a notion can arise out of the Western cult of the individual, but unless you are ready to subscribe to the revisionist Episcopalian notion of "pluriform truths" about the Faith, I think that in rejecting the Pope, you have likewise rejected The Church and an assurance of The Truth or a fair and humble statement that The Church simply doesn't know.
That's an interesting way to put it, and I think you are being very fair. You made me think about what my actual expectation is when I read the Bible as far as authoritative interpretation. When I read a passage that I have never studied, and off the top of my head I can't relate it to anything else I do know about, you are absolutely right that I don't really put much weight on my own "gut feeling" about it.
So, I will check what other people I respect and who are more learned than I have said about it. Usually, those views are filled with other scripture in support of whatever the position is. It is only at that point that I might think to myself, "that position is authoritative". I claim that scripture interprets itself, so if a position has a great weight of scripture in support of it, I would claim it to be correct and authoritative.
You are absolutely right that we do not believe anything outside the Bible is authoritative, and we also believe that doesn't mean that anything outside the Bible is automatically wrong.
My guess is that either they must appeal to an inner "assurance" or say it's unknowable whether one is in the True Church or not. We say it's easy to tell if one is in the true Church, but harder to know if one is going to go to heaven after one dies.
A Reformer would say that it is absolutely knowable whether one himself is in the true Church, but that none of us can be certain about anyone else, even those in the same faith. This is all based on our interpretation of scripture. When I first said the sinner's prayer, I did not have 100% assurance that I was saved because I didn't have the background. It was only later when it was showed to me in scripture that I became sure, i.e. multiple verses on top of themselves supporting the literal take on John 3:16.
That's interesting, thanks. All I knew about Orthodox evangelism was the latter. :) I am very glad to hear that you have active missionaries. I didn't know that.
Actually we had a lot more active missionaries when there was a Tsar on the throne: besides hermits, there were active missionaries in Alaska, including the Priest-Martyr Juvenaly.
The Russian diplomatic chaplain to Japan just after the opening to the West, St. Nicholas of Japan, decided his posting there was not merely to minister to the diplomats, but to preach the Gospel to the Japanese. His first convert was a samurai who had threatned to kill him for violating the prohibition on Christian preaching that dated to the expulsion of the Portugese. He translated the Scriptures and service books into classical Japanese of the high literary sort used in Shinto and Buddhist rites, but always carefully checking with his convert native-speakers to be certain both of the accuracy of the translation and that Christian concepts expressed couldn't be confused with non-Christian concepts. I'm told his manuals on how to organize new mission churches have been used by protestants in the years since.
Sadly, nope! :)
Well, that leaves me with one Orthodox vote for "yes", and one for "no". What is a poor, innocent little Southern Baptist to do? :)
Islamic countries also put a 'few' restrictions on Orthodox evangelization under their rule.
"Well, that leaves me with one Orthodox vote for "yes", and one for "no". What is a poor, innocent little Southern Baptist to do? :)"
COE, Rule 23(b)(1)(A): When in doubt, the default position is listen to the Greek. (rev. 7/1054)
First among equals?