Last week, I wrote this post about what movie to watch when a dictator dies. This week, with papal elections in Rome, my friend had thoughts about the best movies for such a week.
She suggested classics like The Da Vinci Code or The Omen, The Exorcist, and The Name of the Rose.
Clearly, she has more of a tolerance for scary movies than I do--although I haven't watched some of these movies in many years. Would I still find The Exorcist so scary? The music is still creepy and terrifying, to be sure.
She said she was open for suggestions--who can resist? So, even though I'm not Catholic and hardly a movie expert, I chimed in.
Even before we knew we would have a Latin American pope, I suggested the movie Salvador. I said, "I'll put in a bid for Salvador, which has a significant subplot that revolves around Archbishop Romero, whom the Pope assigned to that country because he needed an obedient Archbishop, but the plight of the poor radicalized Romero, which set all sorts of events into motion. Lots of great Catholics in that movie, living out their faith in vivid ways."
I tried to think of other movies with popes, but could only think of monks--not exactly popes, but certainly dedicated to the faith in intense ways. I said, "I'd also put in a bid for Of Gods and Men about Algerian monks who find their lives in increasing danger, and they must determine what God is calling them to do--again, a depiction of believers living out their faith in vivid ways--a good counterpoint to the Prada shoes and the other details which look like consumer excess to this Lutheran observer."
My friend had been commenting on the various riches on display during the coverage of the papal decisions. My inner 19 year old understands: you could feed plenty of poor people with all the riches contained within the Vatican.
Now we have our Pope--will Pope Francis wear Prada shoes? Will he still take the bus?
I will not be watching any of these movies this week-end. I went to the school library and checked out some treats, among them The Book of Eli.
Sure, I've seen it before. But it bears rewatching. And it might be appropriate for these days after a papal election. It's got a strong religious theme, which I won't say too much about, in case you haven't seen it. It asks the question: How much work are words worth?
A poet, a scholar, an administrator, a wanna-be mystic--always wrestling with the temptation to run away to join an intentional community--but would it be contemplative? social justice oriented? creative? in the mountains? in the inner city?--may as well stay planted and wrestle with these tensions and contradictions here, at the edge of America.