Posts Tagged ‘movies’

It’s been awhile since I’ve seen any good news coming out of Hollywood, so I was pleasantly surprised to find this gem of an article linked over at New Advent.   The Irish actor Pierce Brosnan, known to many as James Bond (and to me as Remington Steele), openly shares his faith with an interviewer, attributing good in his life to God and telling how his prayer life sustains him.  He credits his Catholic upbringing.

In an interesting new interview with RTE.ie to promote his patronage of the new Irish dramatic art academy The Lir, which will debut this fall at Trinity College in Dublin, Brosnan credits the power of prayer with guiding him through life’s ups and downs. 

“(Prayer) helped me with the loss of my wife to cancer and with a child who had fallen on tough times. Now prayer helps me to be a father, to be an actor and to be a man,” Brosnan told the Irish website.

“It always helps to have a bit of prayer in your back pocket. At the end of the day, you have to have something and for me that is God, Jesus, my Catholic upbringing, my faith.”

Pierce’s first wife, Cassandra Harris, died of ovarian cancer 20 years ago. The son they had together, Sean, was in a serious car crash a few years back in California, but luckily he survived and is thriving again.

Brosnan and his mother left his hometown of Navan, Co. Meath in 1964, when he was 12 years old, for greener pastures in London.  His father left the family when he was only two, so times were tough.

“In a way (my life) all leads back to a little boy in Navan, my home town on the banks of the Boyne.

Sometimes, it has been painted in melodramatic tones but it was a fantastic way to be brought up. The Catholicism and the Christian brothers, those are deep-rooted images and the foundation for a person of some acting skill,” he says.

“God has been good to me. My faith has been good to me in the moments of deepest suffering, doubt and fear. It is a constant, the language of prayer … I might not have got my sums right from the Christian Brothers or might not have got the greatest learning of literature from them but I certainly got a strapping amount of faith.”

Brosnan also feels that faith will help the Irish people escape the gloom and doom of recession.

“But there is one thing that the people of Ireland know how to do and that is to survive. You have to keep your faith and stay optimistic,” he feels


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From FAILBlog, a Star Wars funny: 

I think these misconceptions are limited to George Lucas…



The answer to the second question, which regrettably is cut off: 

The cause of friction is the gap between Star War fans expectations and the ultimate product which George Lucas produced with Episode 1.  

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Death and tragedy.  So common and yet, we are seemingly unprepared to handle it, or help others handle it.  How are we dealing with grief these days?   This news article from the Globe and Mail (reproduced below) raises questions about the predominance of ‘grief counseling’ in our modern world.  I think it is thought-provoking, or at least it was for me.  It brought to mind a couple experiences I’ve had, and I wanted to share the article with you.

Do you remember the Love is Kind article from Catholic Exchange that I made a page last fall?  Well, I was reminded of the story that author Christi Derr related about the shoe-shining minister’s wife in the article.   The story goes–when there was a death in a church family, the minister’s wife visited the house to shine the shoes for the grieving family to help them prepare for the funeral.  Her reasoning was that it probably needed to be done, but her ulterior motive was that it gave her an excuse to be on hand as a presence for the spouse and family in their grief. (Read Love is Kind is you haven’t–click the tab at the top of the blog!)
The Globe and Mail article on grief counseling also puts me in mind of one of the best movies I have seen in recent years, Lars and the Real Girl (a quirky independent movie that may not be everyone’s cup of tea but is the only movie I know in which the phrase “what would Jesus do?” is asked sincerely).  In a quiet scene showing the main character Lars dealing with tragedy, several older church women come over and sit with him.  They bring casseroles, place themselves around on the chairs, and calmly knit while quietly waiting with him.  He wants to do something for them but they assure him–this is what people do when tragedy strikes: they come over, and sit.  It’s a comforting thought, and a very touching scene, and like the whole movie makes important points about the meaning of community, Christian love,  acceptance and kindness.

In a wider sense, I believe modern Western people and especially Americans are losing our Christian values.  We are opting to be “nice” instead of choosing to be “kind.”  What is the difference? As individuals, we no longer reach out to people who need, are hurting, are poor or homeless.     Instead, we look to the government and say, you should be doing something about that!  We assume that the Red Cross, or FEMA, or Catholic Charities or the mental health community will “do something” for our hurting neighbors.  We are diffusing our responsibilities to each other by handing them off to the greater body.  Let’s reconnect with the our individual responsibility to alleviate sickness, poverty, and grief in the lives of the people around us; Christ calls us as his followers to do just that.

I am repeating myself but remember:  Jesus didn’t teach us to “go vote for the politicians who will go vote for projects to do good on your behalf with your tax dollars.”  Jesus didn’t say, “Come to me, all you who labor and are weary and I will send you Social Security and Fair Labor laws. He didn’t say, when I was sick, you asked casually if I was seeing a mental health professional.  When I was hungry, you donated to a food bank from time to time.  When I was thirsty, you thought it was a real shame that the United Nations hadn’t gotten clean wells built in my part of the world.

There are people in each of our lives that is hurting.  Family, friends and neighbors.  What a shame it is that we do not see it.  What a sin that we do not respond personally.  Most likely our parents or grandparents did, at least in times of grief and tragedy, with casseroles and their comforting company.   If we can’t quite live up to WWJD?…why not try asking, What Would Grandma Have Done

January 15, 2010

Grief industry to the rescue

By Margaret Wente
From Saturday’s Globe and Mail

Not long ago, we had other ways to cope with loss: community and casseroles

Help is finally trickling into Haiti, the scene of such unfathomable suffering that the TV news reports are almost unbearable to watch. The people need everything – water, food, medicine, shelter, doctors, rescue specialists and, of course, psychologists. Many of the medical teams sent to Haiti include psychologists. Perhaps they plan to hold group counselling sessions so mothers who have lost five children will be facilitated to freely express their emotions in a safe and nurturing environment.

Psychologists everywhere are offering their insights into what Haitians are likely going through. “In every moment, the level of emotional anguish ratchets up,” says Russell Friedman, who ought to know. He is the director of the Grief Recovery Institute, a counselling organization in California that helps people deal with death and natural disasters. It offers “the highest level of training in the area of helping grievers complete the pain caused by significant emotional losses” – whatever that means.

The idea that crisis counsellors have anything to offer Haiti strikes me as the most astounding hubris. Yet, the underlying assumption of their trade – that anyone who goes through trauma needs a therapist – has become conventional wisdom. There’s even help for us. Are you traumatized by the news from Haiti? The American Psychological Association offers this advice: Maintain your daily routines. Get plenty of exercise and rest. And turn off the TV. If symptoms persist, consult a licensed health professional.

The grief industry is bigger than ever, even though it’s taken lots of knocks lately. A new study by researchers from Dalhousie University concludes that psychological debriefing after a traumatic event does little good and, in fact, can do harm. “When people are put into a situation and then asked to relive, remember and sometimes even re-enact their feelings and thoughts, it actually makes things worse for them,” says Stan Kutcher, co-author of the study.

Yet, the ethos of therapism is so embedded in our culture that psychological counselling is routinely recommended for disaster survivors, for students who have lost a classmate, even for people whose dogs have died. Psychologist Sally Satel says that, days after the tsunami struck Sri Lanka in 2004, U.S. mental health workers were dispatched to the scene. “Psychological scarring needs to be dealt with as quickly as possible,” one psychologist told The Washington Post. “The longer we wait, the more danger.” Sri Lankan health officials disagreed. “We believe the most important thing is to strengthen local coping mechanisms rather than imposing counselling,” said one.

The foundation of the grief industry is something called Critical Incident Stress Management, a technique that was developed in the early 1970s for paramedics, firefighters and other professionals who regularly witnessed traumatic events. It was thought that, if they talked out their feelings and reactions immediately after the event, they’d be less likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder later on.

This thoroughly unscientific idea soon spread to ordinary people, including people who had only heard of (not witnessed) traumatic events. Soon the grief professionals began descending on schools any time a child died in some awful way. In the workplace, onsite debriefing services became a standard feature of employee assistance programs. Today, tens of thousands of people are trained in Critical Incident Stress Management and related techniques. Because of the spread of “war, terrorism, school shootings, and natural disasters,” says the CISM Foundation, “the need for trained crisis responders has never been greater.”

Obviously, some people are unhinged by trauma and loss, to the point where they permanently lose the ability to cope. But most of us are actually quite resilient. The grief industry is built on the premise that human beings are much frailer than they really are. On top of that, it assumes that trained professionals are much better than untrained ones – friends, neighbours, colleagues, family – at helping people cope with terrible events, including those that will eventually affect us all.

Here’s part of the career profile for a bereavement counsellor, a profession that now has its own academic degrees, associations, conferences and licensing bodies: “Often when people die, the feelings of grief, anger and dismay of those they have left behind become overwhelming. Individuals or whole families can fall apart as a result of a death, and it requires an outside party to come along and see them through this difficult time.”

Not long ago, we had other ways to cope with tragedy and loss. We had community and casseroles. We had friends to sit with through the night. They weren’t experts and they didn’t have degrees. They didn’t pester us to talk about how much it hurt, or how bad we felt. But they kept us company, and they allowed us to share what we wanted with people we knew and trusted.

“Tincture of time,” my grandma would counsel when someone had suffered a terrible loss. But what did she know anyway?

As British writer Frank Furedi has observed, the relentlessly expanding role of expertise into the private sphere conveys the message that individuals are unable to manage important aspects of their lives without professional guidance. This holds true not only for grief and trauma, but for parenting (especially parenting!) and relationships in general. “Today every aspect of life from birth [actually, from well before birth] through to school and career to marriage and mourning is subject to professional counselling,” he writes. “We live in an age of personal trainers, mentors and facilitators.” Some of what they tell us is nonsense, and some is painfully self-evident (see American Psychological Association). But we’re supposed to trust it all because it’s scientifically based.

A wonderful New Yorker cartoon from 10 years ago shows two cowboys gazing across a canyon, looking at some tiny dots in the distant sky. “Could be buzzards, could be grief counsellors,” says one. “Can’t tell from here.”

As we rush to help the Haitian people, perhaps we ought to keep in mind our limits. We can treat the trauma to their bodies. The trauma to their lives is another matter. Their pain and loss are unimaginable. Yet, despite their devastating losses, they may be more resilient than we think.


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Meet the Robinsons

You should meet the Robinsons!

Those who know me know that I pretty much think Disney is evil (I have thought it for decades) and recently I’ve gotten some agreement with my opinion.  I did, however, sit down to watch a movie tonight with my son, by whose strong recommendation we were watching Meet the Robinsons, an animated Disney film from a couple years back.  I watched it and…and  I was pleasantly surprised at the pro-family message of the movie!  Yep, pro-family AND pro-adoption.

One of the two main protagonists is an orphan who was raised in an orphanage.  Wait!  don’t jump to that conclusion!  Turns out that the young fella has been treated lovingly and well in the orphanage, and for an added bonus, the orphanage matron is a black woman.  Double positive message!  Although the youngster, whose name is Lewis, is relatively happy, he can’t seem to get adopted because he’s a whacky science whiz.  This leads him to wonder about his birth mom, and he wants very much to see her, even going so far as to invent a device to recapture his infant memories.

Later, Lewis will have an opportunity to meet his mom, through the machinations of a youngster who turns out to be Lewis’ son (did I mention that the movie is about time travel?  no?  er…sorry.  The movie is about time travel!).  I won’t spoil it for you but I will just say that Lewis’ birth mother is portrayed sympathetically and the scene where he sees her is very touching and again, pro-family. 

The Robinson family of the title is a delightful mix of oddball characters who love and support each other, and Lewis quickly falls in love with them.  Lewis finds himself wanting to stay in the future with the Robinsons.  The quirky characters are respectful of each other, encouraging mistakes as “learning opportunities” and nurturing each other’s unique gifts and contributions.  The youngsters are not smart alecky.  Even the ‘bad guy’ has an opportunity to repent.

I guess if you start with good material it helps.  Disney based the movie on the whimsical children’s book, A Day with Wilbur Robinson by William Joyce.

Meet the Robinsons did terribly at the box office.  I may not be a Disney fan, but I still pay attention to kids movies coming out, and I don’t even remember it being released.     I don’t know why it did so poorly;  it’s a good film.  I really enjoyed it, I LOVED the family message and the positive values (it’s nice to see that Disney can make a movie with a mom AND a dad).

Oh, and the soundtrack is another Danny Elfman winner.  I’m recommending this one.

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My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love You! I beg pardon for those who do not believe, nor adore, nor hope, nor love You. Prayer taught to the Fatima visionaries by the angel in 1916

The 13th Day official movie poster

The 13th Day official movie poster

Tonight was the worldwide premiere of The 13th Day — attendees at 13 locations throughout the US and at the Fatima shrine being blessed to see the movie about the visits of Our Lady at Fatima on the 92nd anniversary of the miracle of the sun.  I had the great privilege to see the film tonight at Our Lady of Good Counsel in Plymouth, MI (a church I have mentioned before).   What can I say?  It was profoundly moving.  Very faithful, and faith-filled, beautifully filmed, artistic yet inspiring, reverent, touching (I cried lots!), and poignant. 

I did not know much about the Fatima visits before this movie (other than the revelations of the secrets, particularly as applied to Pope John Paul II).  When I realized from Catholic radio and media that this movie was being released, I deliberately avoided learning more.  I’m glad that I didn’t, as the Miracle of the Sun and the exposition at the end were a great visual and emotional surprise. 

The child actors were incredible, and I do mean that.  (I heard more than a couple comments about them on the way out.)  The expressiveness of each youngster captured the radiance and peace that truly encompassed these children, as the monthly visits progressed and troubles mounted for them and their families.  I think I shall be haunted by memories their luminous eyes, in a good way:  in the way that some movies seem to reach deeply into our psyche and stay there days after the movie credits have rolled.  

The other-worldly gaze of the young, burdened Lucia

The other-worldly gaze of the young, burdened Lucia

You can see trailers of the film at the website and read the review of the movie from the incomparable Steven Greydanus at Decent Films.   Also, Carl Olson at Insight Scoop blog for Ignatius Press ( the U.S. distributor) is asking for comments if you saw the film.  And Ignatius would like you to know that you can arrange a showing of this awesome film at your church or school.  Please consider this, as this film would greatly bless all who watch it.  (Click here for details.)  I know I felt blessed.  May we each be blessed with a fraction of the faith and courage that these children had. 

So, my recommendation is that you see The 13th Day film as soon as you can, bring all your Catholic friends and family and be prepared to be inspired.  I myself said a rosary before bed and again this morning when I learned some of the power that comes through these prayerful meditations and that in fact, Mary has asked it of us with a specific goal in mind.

Finally, I want to give a shout-out to Ave Maria Radio, which sponsored the event (and which is still short of its annual fundraising goalhint hint!) as well as Sr. Ann Shields of Renewal Ministries who had the good sense to end the event with a wonderful (and wonderfully direct) prayer–as only Sr. Ann Shields can do it.  If you do not listen to her Food for the Journey program on your radio (click for the schedule!), I advise you to download her podcasts at the Renewal Ministries website or by subscribing the podcast at ITunes.  Her pithy, no-nonsense, call-it-like-it-is Bible study show will bring Scripture alive for you and help you see how even the most obscure Old Testament passage can shine a light on our modern lives and attitude. 

To recap: 
The 13th Day –see it!  host it!
Ave Maria Radio–help it!
Food for the Journey — hear it !


O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who have most need of your mercy. — Prayer added to the Rosary at the request of Our Lady of Fatima

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