Predator Priests And Other Obscenities
"Deliver Us From Evil": A really-hard-to-sit-through expose of an Irish priest who admits to molesting children while serving parishes in California in the 1970's, while his bishop (now a cardinal) kept moving him from one unsuspecting church to another. Of course, the director of this documentary (Amy Berg) wants very much to uncover what the bishop knew and when he knew it. Not surprisingly, the answers are not all that clear, even in legal deposition. Nor is it clear what motives the (now retired) priest may have had for being so forthcoming and cooperative, but the effect is chilling, both visually and viscerally. The rage against the Church here is palpable, and righteously so. Which makes things even more difficult for the many well-meaning clergy who continue to labor in obscurity, preaching a Gospel of redemption in vineyards despoiled and pillaged by their predecessors. Maranatha! (Revelation 22:20)
"Marine": We're supposed to enjoy this "new" action hero, John Cena (a professional wrestler) take the law into his hands and systematically eliminate the bad guys, who themselves have executed cops in cold blood. Explosions, car chases, and hand-to-hand combat, with the only difference between the good guy and the bad guys is that the ex-Marine survives the fight to the death and they don't. How obscene is it to glorify violence?
"Running With Scissors": Based on the (autobiographical) book by the same title, about a boy growing up in a nuclear family beyond dysfunctional, and then with an adoptive family where everybody around him is certifiably nuts. A stellar cast delivers memorable emotional performances, interspersed with dark humor, but it's hard to root for anybody, because nobody's even normal, much less heroic. If you weren't depressed before you view it, you will be afterwards. And it's more than obscene when parents neglect their child to the point of abuse; it's downright criminal. Our Presbyterian children's homes are filled with just such lost souls, who are daily crying for deliverance and redemption.
"Fur": "And the man and his wife were both naked, and not ashamed." (Genesis 2:25) This unusual movie brings up a very old issue about the fine line between "art" and "obscenity." It's loosely based on the life of Diane Arbus, the New York City photographer who became famous in the 1960's for her still life-snapshots of the freakish and marginalized. In this film, Nicole Kidman's Arbus is a strikingly attractive young woman who grew up with haughty parents made wealthy from selling luxurious furs to rich people. She has a loving husband and two handsome young children, and works as an assistant in her husband's successful photography studio, where he not only family portraits, but also commercial "model shoots" for national magazines. So you would think she'd be pretty happy, right? But alas, there's a restlessness in her soul, a volatile combination of artistic frustration, lack of creative outlet, and sheer personal boredom. She becomes fascinated with the enigmatic man upstairs (Robert Downey, Jr.) who has an unusually hairy medical condition that creates "fur" all over his body. In a kind of "Beauty and the Beast" subtext, he introduces her to his friends, who all look like refugees from a circus sideshow, and she finally finds interesting subjects for her own camera. However, her newfound preoccupation is hardly conducive to traditional family life. If you choose to see this film, be prepared for plenty of "full frontal," and decide for yourself whether it's crossed over that fine line between artistic imagery and voyeuristic pornography.
"But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, 'Where are you?' He said, 'I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.' He said, 'Who told you that you were naked?' Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?' (Genesis 3: 9-11)
Questions For Discussion:
1) When clergy are discovered to be sexual predators, how should the Church respond to the victims? How does the Church overcome trust erosion?
2) How "dysfunctional" was your family growing up? How "dysfunctional" is it now?
3) Have you ever been tempted to take the law into your own hands?
4) When have you been naked and ashamed? Naked and not ashamed?
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Terrell, Texas