Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Is your entertainment your god?

A Protestant (?) blogger asked the question of whether it's time for Christians to stop watching Game of Thrones. On his blog the responses have been mild or attempted to change the subject. The comments on sites where his post has been discussed  have been spicier, along the lines of "It's just fiction. It's great writing. What's the matter with you, are you some kind of art hating Philistine?"   

I'm reminded of a good priest last year who gave a lecture on The Lord of the Rings and said there are some problems with it. Grown people had fits and let's not forget the whole Harry Potter thing. If a Catholic layperson, priest or even, then Cardinal Ratzinger said anything against the J. K. Rowling books people got insulting and switched parishes, or stated that the critic just didn't know what they were talking about.  The editors of Lifesite News wrote back in 2007, that the most vicious and angry e-mail they receive comes from homosexual activists, abortion people and Harry Potter fans. Wow, that's pathetic. Mess with their entertainment and even self identified devout Catholics get huffy. I can't understand how people can get so worked up over a mere amusement. Obviously, a lot of us have turned our favorite TV show, or books into our gods.


R J said...

Again, thanks, Mrs. Dymphna. Overall I would say that the problem you cite expresses itself less frantically here in Australia than it does in the States, but that the difference is one of degree, not one of kind.

I have never read Harry Potter and have no particular plans to open a solitary book in the series. Not through any overwhelming fear that my soul will be endangered; for me, there are perils much closer to home than that. Rather, I eschew HP for the simple reason that very little fiction interests me at all. This has ensured my comparable immunity to Lord of the Rings also.

One thing which I have not seen mentioned in any comments whatsoever upon the Tolkien cult (save, occasionally, my own) is how utterly Anglo, i.e. provincial, the entire concept of hobbitomania is. Really, hobbitomanes should try and explain their Tolkien-addiction - not morally different from being in the grip of crack - to Catholics who happen to come from, uh ... France, or Mexico, or Spain, or Poland, or Latvia, or Ukraine, or East Timor.

When you live in a country where Catholics and even non-Catholics have collective memories of Jacobins and communists (or, in East Timor, Western-backed Indonesian Muslims) smashing entire generations to the tune of hundreds of thousands if not millions dead, it becomes somewhat difficult to take the theological potential of Frodo Baggins at all seriously. This is a finding which I have noted in a formerly Israeli-based friend now resident in the U.S.A. after having spent years in Africa, where her father was a rabbi. Her attitude accords precisely with my own.

I suppose we Anglos could try the interesting thought-experiment of becoming adults. Yet I don't see that particular solution on the horizon much.

Do you happen to know, BTW, the writings of Dwight Macdonald, the American social critic and movie reviewer (1906-1982)? One of his comments, from 1950, seems pertinent to what you have to say. I think you might find it interesting even if Macdonald was a lifelong atheist. He wrote to an Italian friend of his:

"If the United States doesn’t or cannot change its mass culture ... it will lose the war against the USSR. Americans have been made into permanent adolescents ... scared of death, sex, old age. We don't function when we get out in the big cold world where poverty, the mere struggle for existence, is important and where some of the people are grown-ups. "

Other than that "USSR", I don't see much in this passage which is irrelevant in 2015. Do you?

Gina Guarnere said...

He's Catholic.

I don't have anything to add to the discussion, but he is a Catholic. :)

Dymphna said...

Matt's Catholic? Great!

David L. Gray (Yoseph M. Daviyd) said...

Good comments Dymphna. I just read an article at one of those young Catholic websites and the kid was asking 'Would Jesus Watch Game of Thrones.' I hate softball questions like that.

I probably watch some movies and television programs that scrupulous Catholics would find questionable, but the main reason I do is because I love discovering theology in all forms of art and expression. Sometimes that art points to Christ, and sometimes it points to the anti-Christ, but in all there is a method in which the artist communicates their understanding of divine things.

Right now in GoT I'm fascinated with the deity called The Lord of Light - an interesting play on John's Jesus. There is also an inquisition going on in King's Landing that seems to be a play on the Spanish Inquisition.

That being said, I don't recommend GoT as any sort of model or example on how one out to live their life. As HBO series' goes - sexual depravity is the highlight.

Lola said...

Recently I was listening to a past show on Chris Fabry Live found at Moody Radio (NOT Catholic) pertaining to non-toxic personal care. Andrea Fabry is his guest, and they had a tiny conversation about his recently giving up watching Sunday Football. They have been married about 30 years, and for most of that time, Andrea prayed that he'd come to the conclusion that with a family (9!! children!!!) maybe his Sundays should be spent on family and the Lord than 'sports'. She didn't nag.

I pretty much have become disgusted with most of tv, but we as a family still have cable. I so wanted to cut THAT cord.

Hans Georg Lundahl said...

"A Protestant (?) blogger asked the question of whether it's time for Christians to stop watching Game of Thrones."

Wait, you mean she thinks there was a time when they ought to have started watching it previously?

After reading GRRM's critique of JRRT, I pretty much lost interest in that former writer!
Φιλολoγικά/Philologica : Answering GRRM on JRRT's character Aragorn

Especially, as far as I recall I tried to send it to him, perhaps even succeeded, and he has not deigned to answer.

Hans Georg Lundahl said...

"I'm reminded of a good priest last year who gave a lecture on The Lord of the Rings and said there are some problems with it."

I am NOT agreeing that the priest, whom I suspect of being Zuhlsdorf, was being good.

He misused the word "Gnosticism" when it comes to criticising Ainulindale, he showed off an ignorance of basic literary distinctions (as between allegoric method of interpreting Scripture - which before that has a historic meaning which cannot be neglected! - and allegory as a literary form, which Tolkien disliked), and he showed off two measures when preferring not just Chesterton, but also, I think, Karl May (an über-ökumenisch semi-masonic Protestant who would have approved highly of Assisi 1986!) over Tolkien.

Tolkien was a Thomist, as one can expect from his attendance at Birmingham, and even so that priest, from a mis-analysis of Ainulindale concludes the work is "Gnostic".

Plus ignores fact that rings and even crystal balls in hands of mortals (except Aragorn) are a dire menace to the soul in LotR, at opposite ends from where Rowling sets them.

Hans Georg Lundahl said...

"Mess with their entertainment and even self identified devout Catholics get huffy."

When some archbishop of Havana had forbidden Habanera or Tango, Catholics got huffy too.

That is how Pope St Pius X came to watch a pair of tango dancers and conclude "I don't think it is a great sin to dance tango, though I find the Furlana prettier".

While this was undecided, the bishop had probably taken the tone of "are the Catholics here making their entertainments their god?"

There are other things than God one does not want to go without if one is NOT a religious but a lay person.

Pope St Gregory the Great tried to forbid BISHOPS to read Homer and Virgil. He never dreamed of extending such a ban to laymen. Also, he failed. Answer from Gaul was "if we can't teach Latin from Virgil and Greek from Homer, soon no one will know the languages correctly any more" of words to the same effect.