Harvesting Conciliar “fruits”: half of adults polled think Harry Potter and Hunger Games could be Biblical

It often seems that, these days, the odds are never in our favor.

I take time out from my furious conference preparation (on art coming up in Detroit) to present something that only confirms the great fruits of Vatican II and the magnificent benefits we have gained from decades of liberal Left domination of Catholic education, the breakdown of clear preaching, the erosion of the family, timidclerical oversight, shabby liturgical worship unworthy of the name….

First on display, this (biretta tip Pewsitter) comes from WND:

Stunning results also reveal 1 in 3 don’t know Nativity is in Scripture

A new poll conducted by the Bible Society reveals that more than half of the adults who responded believe “The Hunger Games” are biblical and one in three say “Harry Potter” could be a storyline from the sacred text.

“While these statistics may appear surprising at first glance, they are symptomatic of the fact that many children indicate they have never read, seen or even heard these stories,” the poll of respondents from the United Kingdom explained.

Of the parents questioned, 46 percent did not recognize that the account of Noah’s Ark comes from the Bible, according to the results of the January survey of 800 children ages eight to 15 and 1,000 parents.

The survey was taken in preparation for the launch of the organization’s “Pass It On” campaign which is intended to raise the level of knowledge about the Bible.


How about your kids? How about your kids at home and in Catholic schools?

Do they know more about Harry Potter’s family and story than their own forebears in the history of salvation, their own Christian family presented in the pages of Scripture and in the lives of the saints?

Next up, this is from the Cardinal Newman Society (which has a great RRS feed on the right side-bar of this blog!):

Students Tout 15 Years of ‘V-Monologues’ as Play Continues on Several Catholic Campuses

At least 10 Catholic colleges and universities will be hosting productions of The Vagina Monologues or have officially recognized student groups that are performing the play in 2014, The Cardinal Newman Society has learned. Many of the institutions with connections to the play in 2014 have reportedly hosted the play in past years, and students from at least one institution are advertising 15 years of performances.
The Monologues seriously distorts human sexuality and celebrates sinful behaviors, including lesbian activity and masturbation. One scene even declares a lesbian rape of a teenage girl her “salvation” which raised her into “a kind of heaven.” The play’s production on Catholic campuses has been criticized by several bishops.


While critics of the play have acknowledged that it is often used as a fundraiser to support women’s shelters or AIDS research, they have cited the inappropriateness of using the play as a fundraising vehicle, especially at Catholic universities.
The Newman Society has closely monitored showings of the play on Catholic campuses for several years. In 2003, the number of campuses with performances of the play reached a high of 32.
The Society has discovered that at least 10 Catholic institutions are hosting or have recognized student groups performing the Monologues in 2014.

The College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., […] Georgetown University Women’s Center in Washington, D.C., […] DePaul University in Chicago, Ill., […] Bellarmine University in Louisville, Ky., [… ] Saint Louis University (Mo.) […] Fordham University (N.Y.) […]Loyola University New Orleans (La.) […] Loyola University Chicago (Ill.) […] Saint Mary’s College of California […] Seattle University (Wash.) […] Santa Clara University’s […]

A few Jesuit schools there, no?


One theology course offered at Santa Clara during the Winter semester titled “The Christian Tradition” even required students to read Boston College professor Cathleen Kaveny’s defense entitled “Be Not Afraid: The ‘Vagina Monologues’ on Catholic Campuses.”

Go there and see the actual descriptions of the productions at the schools listed above.

We have so much to be proud of, thanks to a couple generations of bishops and priests and Catholic educators.

From LifeSite:

‘Faithful dissent’? Catholic school board sponsors lecture on how to oppose Church moral teachings

KITCHENER, Ontario, February 11, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – An Ontario Catholic school board sponsored a lecture last week [damage is done] focused on how Catholic schools can “value … faithful dissent” as a way of opposing Catholic teaching on “ordination, homosexuality, and contraception.” [Because we need more dissent?  Right?]

The Waterloo Catholic District School Board sponsored Graham McDonough, PhD, to speak at St. Jerome’s University (SJU) Friday night as part of the University’s lecture series on “Catholic Experience.”

Catholic schools often find themselves dealing with disagreements with Church teaching [and rather than teach they cave…] on topics such as ordination, homosexuality, and contraception as well as with complaints that schools are not properly teaching doctrine,” reads a description of the lecture, titled “Faithful Disagreement: an opportunity for rediscovery in Catholic education.”

“This lecture proposes that Catholic schools can do more to include and nurture internal disagreement as a powerful opportunity to embrace intellectual diversity, learn the value of faithful dissent and enable greater participation in the Church and the world.” [Total B as in B, S as in S.]

McDonough, an assistant professor of education and an associate fellow at the Centre for Studies in Religion and Society at the University of Victoria, released a book in 2012 titled Beyond Obedience and Abandonment: Toward a Theory of Dissent in Catholic Education.


McDonough draws heavily on dissident theologians Profs. Thomas Groome and Gregory Baum. Both are laicized priests, and Baum is called by some Canada’s leading dissenter since the 1960s.


What could possibly go wrong?

This is being peddled with the implicit approval of the pastors whose God-entrusted responsibility it is to guard the flock precisely from this sort of dreck.

Friends… what we have here is:

Reason #20 for Summorum Pontificum.

Thank you, Benedict XVI. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Benedict XVI, Liberals, New Evangelization, Our Catholic Identity, Pò sì jiù, SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM, The Coming Storm, The Drill, The future and our choices, Vatican II, You must be joking! and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. majuscule says:

    Lord have mercy…

  2. FloridaJoan says:

    … and we wonder WHY we’re in the shape we’re in … unbelievable

    I concur majuscule Lord, have mercy

    pax et bonum

  3. Patrick-K says:

    “as well as with complaints that schools are not properly teaching doctrine”

    Erm… right…

  4. Uxixu says:

    Harry Potter and Hunger Games (or any contemporary popular franchise… 30 years ago would be original Star Wars trilogy, etc) seems a bit of hyperbole, though the appalling lack of catechesis, much less knowledge of Scripture by most Catholics is very much apparent.

    Even with those, though, I find the biggest loss in uniquely Catholic identity is the saints. You see it in the Novus Ordo most readily when comparing against the old Confiteor and the invocations of numerous saints by name twice in the Mass, as well as way too many saints in the Proper of the Saints having optional feasts in the new calendar. Before a sort of spiritual awakening a few years ago, I knew almost nothing about most saints beyond the Apostles and my parents (both children before Vatican II but coming of age after) didn’t seem to know much more, though my mom became more aware of more than a few when she started participating more (EMHC, Bible study, etc). Now I make sure to read my Baronius Missal and read a bit of the Saint’s feast that day, pray for their intercession and mention them to my kids before they go to sleep and ask them to pray for their intercession, as well.

    Regardless of how successful that might be, it’s a micro solution to a macro problem. My children aren’t learning enough about the saints at the Catholic school they attend even. Currently only the eldest is mature enough for me to take to the semi-regular Sunday EF, but I pray and dream of the day my larger and more affluent local parish could celebrate it there.

  5. tcreek says:

    The Vagina Monologues are being held again at Bellarmine University in Louisville KY as in many years of the past. It is held on Bellarmine’s campus by Bellarmine students and advertised in the Bellarmine newspaper. Many complaints have been sent to the university and to Archbishop Kurtz. The reply always is, … “the play is independently sponsored by the performers.”

    Archbishop Kurtz, now the president of the USCCB, seems powerless to influence a Catholic university in his diocese. Good luck on larger issues.

  6. tonyfernandez says:

    These ‘c’atholic campuses have to be a big part of the decline in Catholic culture in our parishes. These schools are no better than secular universities, and thus we shouldn’t be surprised that our churches are nothing more than centers of humanist ideals. The dominant philosophies of our day are humanism and relativism, and they are pushed by our schools. When Catholic schools do the same, where will our youth learn about their real heritage?

  7. Patrick-K says:

    tonyfernandez: “where will our youth learn about their real heritage” — there are good priests out there, but yes children will only generally be getting a weekly sermon from them. I’m thinking about this myself as I will be sending children to school in a few years. I went to Catholic school for 12 years and while I do appreciate the education I received there, the religious instruction was fairly “mushy.” There is a school in my area which is not associated with the diocese, but is affiliated with Opus Dei that (at least in its promotional materials) emphasizes virtue rather than the usual assortment of politically correct platitudes. Some other larger metro areas have such schools, sometimes billed as “classical education:” Western civilization, traditional morality, etc. Many of these are Protestant (or “Evangelical,” as I suppose one says today), and I do sometimes wonder if that would be a better choice than the average diocesan school, although I’m extremely hesitant to go with that option.

  8. Bob B. says:

    If it’s on TV or in the movies, it must be real…currently reading a book that mentions a well-known (Jesuit) Catholic college that seems to have begun “falling apart” after WWII…attempting to have my students being able to defend the Faith, led to bumping heads with those who were supposed to be doing the same (many of whom attended a nearby Jesuit university), but didn’t.

  9. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Re the poll on the Bible, where does it say “Catholics” think this? Is it not a random poll, (and of Brits to boot?) Maybe Catholics are the ones who made up the percentge of random people who knew the right answer. Maybe not, too, I grant, but nothing reported above supports the conclusion that Vatican II left us liable to Harry Potter. It just doesn’t, no?

  10. One of those TNCs says:

    It was noted above, but it bears noting again:

    “Catholic schools often find themselves dealing with disagreements with Church teaching on topics such as ordination, homosexuality, and contraception as well as with complaints that schools are not properly teaching doctrine,”

    So, some disagree with Church teaching, yet at the same time, deplore schools “not properly teaching doctrine”???

    Or are those two complaints coming from opposite “sides of the aisle”, so to speak?

  11. PA mom says:

    I think these issues are related, but not only in that way.

    There is a lot of talk in conservative circles bout how important the entertainment media is and how efficiently and effortlessly it can disperse a message. Just reading about the new Noah movie, it turns out to be another save the environment movie. They just took one of the most well known bible stories and have manipulated it toward a liberal agenda.

    I have no idea how to get it done, but that recent The Bible series was fairly well viewed, right? There must be a way.

  12. capchoirgirl says:

    PA Mom: Oh, really? That’s so sad! I wanted to see that too!

  13. APX says:

    The Waterloo Catholic District School Board sponsored Graham McDonough, PhD?

    Seriously?!! That guy was my drum teacher and his dad was the head of the Catholic School board in which I attended. Considering what he had in his CD collection, this doesn’t surprise me one iota.

  14. Dan says:

    Yes, I’m sure it’s the fault of the Second Vatican Council that folks in the U.K., well known as a staunchly Catholic country, don’t know the stories in the Bible.

    Much like global warming, it seems as if there is no ill which cannot somehow be blamed on Vatican II.

  15. murtheol says:

    There is no cure for stupid. None.

  16. Netmilsmom says:

    Didn’t any of these families watch Veggie Tales?

    All I can say is “Homeschool”.

  17. OrthodoxChick says:

    Dr. Peters,

    I took a peek at the Bible Society’s page. I think they are Church of England, even though they don’t come right out and say so in plain English. Lord Alton serves as one of their vice presidents. Their web site says the following: “Set up in 1804, the Society’s Patron is HM The Queen and its President is the Bishop of London, Dr Richard Chartres.” I know nothing about Anglicans/C of E and have never heard of Bishop Chartres, but that sentence seems to be them, I think.

    That said, the poll was conducted via online survey. I couldn’t find any breakdown as to creed of respondents; just that children and parents surveyed were residents of the UK and Wales – and the respondents from Wales did better than the rest of the UK overall.

    Link to Bible Society:


  18. Kathleen10 says:

    It is not always possible to draw a perfectly straight line from point A to point B, but one can arrive at reasonable conclusions. I know less than anyone here about Vatican II, but can there really be doubt that this council was the catalyst for the generalized breakdown in the practice of the Catholic faith since that time? There really can’t be any doubt about that. Pretty much everything seems to have changed since that time, not for the better, and we have seen how it influenced so many Bishops and priests, so it’s reasonable.
    In Connecticut there is a current TV campaign to try to interest people in Catholic education. Check it out for yourself, but it says a Catholic education gives students “an open mind”. So in Connecticut it’s not about passing along the truths of the Catholic faith, tradition, and so on, it’s about having an open mind! In other words, “We aren’t those closed-off, narrow minded Catholics you’ve heard about…whatever you got, we’re open to it”. Greaaat.
    Unless the Bishops find their voice and fire in their bellies for a true renewal of the Catholic faith, and start really defending and promoting true Catholicism, we are probably not going to like where the church ends up in so many years. Or maybe, there will be so many watered down dumb Catholics that it will seem just about right when it is indistinguishable from the Church of Christ or the Episcopal Church. Pope Benedict was right when he said the church may end up much “smaller”.
    Hey, we may all end up attending the same parish! That’s nice because I’ll be happy to meet you all.

  19. Palladio says:

    “but can there really be doubt that this council was the catalyst for the generalized breakdown in the practice of the Catholic faith since that time?”


    Pope Benedict XVI doubts it. He says, read the documents with the mind of the Church, and all is well. He points out the shabby implementation of V II, and nobody of a certain age has NOT seen the effects of its shabby implementation, to say nothing of its subversion of V II and of the Church.

    Cause for the mess? Within the Church itself, liberal/modernistic sabotage. A short answer. There were causes, but to my mind, the worst of them came from within the Church. Ah well, since the Church has survived the mess Her own Bishops and priests made, we know it can only be God who ensures the survival and guides the one true faith.

  20. mamajen says:

    People have touted the underlying religious themes in fantasy films like Narnia and LOTR, so I’m not at all shocked that the poll respondents thought these other films (which feature similar elements) might also be biblical.

  21. Robbie says:

    There’s no doubt in my mind VII was the catalyst for a generalized breakdown in the practice of Catholic faith. By the admission of many from that period of time, the documents of VII were purposefully written so that they could be interpreted in many different ways. Add to that, Paul VI appointed exceptionally liberal bishops to implement a series of documents that were purposefully written with vagueness and you get the chaos we saw, especially in the 1970’s. It’s no surprise so many simply walked away because what had been the case for 16 or 17 centuries suddenly changed in the span of a years, a few months, and even a few weekends.

    Something tells me, sadly, we’re going to be harvesting a whole lot of new Conciliar fruits over the next decade or two.

  22. Glen M says:

    Within the Diocese of Hamilton (Canada) is the annual dissent-fest for “Catholic” teachers, the Canuck equivalent of the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress: http://www.cfotae.ca/index.html

  23. NDGrizz says:

    At least the University of Notre Dame isn’t on that list.

  24. Marc M says:

    Digging into the poll details (ALWAYS DO THIS) I did note that this is how they described Noah’s Ark: “In a world threatened by environmental disaster, one family embarks on a radical plan to survive and start a new life.” Not surprising that many adults hearing that sentence, asked if they thought it was a Bible story, said no. It sounds more like an Al Gore movie described that way. I would wager inserting the word “flood” or even “boat” somewhere in there would significantly change that response.

    Some of the other descriptions leave less wiggle room, especially Superman (“A hero from another planet with super powers on earth saves lives and the world from disaster.”) But as noted already, this is apparently a random sample of all Brits, not a country known for their long tradition of Catholic schools. It’s a sign of trouble, but blaming Vatican II is a bit much.

  25. Ben Kenobi says:

    Sobering words, Father Z. I show this to parents all the time who think, “my kids are ok.” No, no, they likely are not. Thanks for posting this up. We are really in a crisis.

  26. Bruce says:

    I wonder if you faithful Catholics from the US know about Rev. Thomas Rosica’s (He is the Chief Executive Officer of Canada’s Catholic Salt + Light Television network) 2012 interview with Gregory Baum?

    From LifeSiteNews:

    On his regular “Witness” program on Salt and Light TV, Fr. Rosica begins the October 7, 2012 interview by lauding Baum. “Professor Gregory Baum, it’s a great joy for us to have you on set with us for Witness on Salt and Light Television,” says Rosica.
    Fr. Rosica notes, “Gregory we’ve known each other for a long time…,” the Salt and Light CEO fails to mention Baum’s decades-long dissent from the teachings of the Church. Fr. Rosica astonishingly goes on to state, “I’ve certainly admired very much your theology, your writings but also your love of the Church, your love of Christ, and you helped to keep alive not only the spirit of the Second Vatican council, but also the authentic teaching of the Council … you remain a faithful, deeply devoted Catholic, love Jesus, the Church, the Eucharist.”

  27. ChrisRawlings says:

    So, instead of blaming parents who neglected the formation of their children, individuals who thought that watching Notre Dame on NBC counted as formation, or a secularizing culture bent on destroying the work of God, you are going to instead blame an ecumenical council deliberated through the Holy Spirit’s power working in the Church and her Magisterium?

    I mean…really?

  28. Priam1184 says:

    The Catholic Church is the possessor of absolute Truth in the realm of faith and morals (and when we start proclaiming this instead of just whining about wanting people to leave us alone and give us our religious ‘freedom’ maybe some people will start to realize this) as revealed by Jesus Christ. So dissent is just dissent. There is nothing faithful about it.

  29. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Somewhat tangentially to Uxixu’s comment, there seems to be a sort of ‘academic convention’ (among- some? – many? – Catholics as well) not to refer to saints as “St. [Name]” but simply as “[Name]”.

    In the other hand, searching for ‘Dictionary of Saints’ at the U.S. Amazon site turns up a lot of relevant new/in print as well as second-hand entries. And then there are websites…

  30. Midwest St. Michael says:

    Netmilsmom, we are homeschooling.

    Even though we are in a rural area, and have yet to deal with much of what the culture of death is peddling, we are raising our kids in the faith. Foolproof? Hardly.

    As Mr. Kenobi says of those who think their kids are okay, “No, no, they likely are not.”

    Roger that. So, this is what I tell our five kids (with my most serious/concerned fatherly look): “If you do not foster virtue, if you do not pray, if you do not pay heed to the spiritual/corporal works of mercy… if you *stop* assisting at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and avail yourselves to (at least) monthly confession – you *will* go to Hell. Period.”

    Then I tell them with a smile, “Now, let’s go grab a soda and go on a Rosary drive and enjoy the scenery in our own back yard!” They like that.



  31. The Cobbler says:

    @Marc M, that description of Superman sounds like what a lot of atheists think Christians believe Jesus is…

  32. lucy says:

    Something has been bothering me for years now. I know that the Holy Father doesn’t like to come down hard on his bishops, but I have to wonder why he allows such nonsense to continue. So many are being lost because some priests and some bishops are not teaching the truths of the faith. I happen to live in a diocese where a lot of wishy-washy homilies are given. There are a couple really great priests, but they tell us their hands are tied to do more because the bishop can make their life quite difficult. Our bishop doesn’t seem to hear the issues and tend to them, instead choosing to ignore them. I can’t understand it. I wish that the Vatican would come out and say to the bishops, “Teach the faith!” Is there really nothing that can be done?

  33. Jeannie_C says:

    St. Jerome’s was the Catholic university our son attended with a view to vocation. He came out of the experience an alcoholic. What more can I say?

  34. Lin says:

    In my humble opinion,Catholic catechism derailed shortly after Vatican II. I prayed that Pope Benedict would have established from minimum standards to be followed world wide to no avail. I have no confidence in Pope Francis to be able to take the lead on this. Today he said, “If each of us does not feel in need of God’s mercy, if we don’t feel like sinners, it would be better to not go to Mass,” he said. This type of statement can be so confusing and/or misleading to even a well-Catechized person let alone one who was not. May GOD have mercy on us! And pray for our priests! Without priests, no Eucharist!

  35. mpolo says:

    I really wonder how the questions were worded, though. The overall arc of the Harry Potter novels was distinctly Christian (death and resurrection, power of love, self-sacrifice, etc.), even if there are also some troubling issues, perhaps most notably the acceptance of euthanasia. On the other hand, The Hunger Games cannot really be termed a Christian allegory, even if there are Christian themes that are developed to a greater or lesser extent. But there is enough moral content there in both works that a sufficiently vaguely worded question could easily get educated persons saying that the works are “based in the Bible” or some such.

  36. Johnno says:

    Interestingly enough I happened to watch a segment called ‘Church Traitors’ on ChurchMilitant.tv’s pay site that detailed the kind of religious education Catholic schools are providing… Basically all religious education is for young Catholic children is an arts and crafts class full of vapid empty meaningless dribble. What’s even mroe shocking is that this same fluff continues on in Catholic high school. Then eventually these young men and women will go to a Catholic University where they will be taught to ‘faithfully dissent’ and watch ‘Vagina monologues.’

    So the list goes:
    – Parents don’t teach their children (After all why not let their children be free to decide for themselves? Let the TV raise them!)
    – Priests don’t preach anyhting meaingful at the pulpit.
    – Elementary schools don’t teach anything.
    – High schools don’t teach anything.
    – Colleges and universities don’t teach anything.

    This stupidity is completely unbelievable. Fire will fall from the sky any day now and we’ll completely deserve it.

  37. Jim says:

    Re:LOTR being so very Catholic.
    Read the first volume of St Alphonsus’ The history of heresies, and their refutation, or, The triumph of the church (for free of course – its not copyrighted), then read “The Silmarillion”. Try to identify the number of 1st, 2nd, 3rd century heresies in the latter. Judge for yourselves.

  38. shin says:

    Good to hear Jim. It seems like if it’s popular people feel like attributing it to being ‘Biblical’ or coopting it as ‘ours’ and so benefiting off the fad. There’s sentiment and then there’s reality.

  39. Imrahil says:

    Note that Tolkien does not claim to describe the real world.

  40. NancyJ says:

    In our home, we made the mistake of allowing our two older boys to read Harry Potter – I was thrilled that they so readily tackled such heavy tomes. Then our family heard a homily speaking directly to Harry Potter and how it opens the door to the Evil One.


    As a result, my older two boys (12 and 10 at the time) – without my prompting – threw away their Harry Potter collection and my youngest (age 8) vowed never to read them.

    As for “Hunger Games”…we had a priest who, in several homilies for his daily mass, spoke directly to the evil in a culture that glorifies one child killing another, and the damage that does to our children. Again, my boys took this in and understood that this was not a book they would read or a movie they would see. This makes us quite an anomaly, because for most Christian families I have met, “Hunger Games” is an obsession.

    Pray for courageous priests! Our children thirst for the Truth (as do I) and will act on it when it is presented clearly and with conviction.

  41. CrimsonCatholic says:

    Dr. Edward Peters is right, no where in the study does it ask “What is your religious affiliation?” nor does it make a connection to anything Catholic. So I can’t see how you can jump to the conclusion that the results of this survey is the fault of Vatican II.

  42. Marc M says:

    @NancyJ- Oh, I don’t know if that’s fair. The Potter books are, start to finish, a story of virtue, responsibility, and sacrifice. The central themes surround stories of people who stand up for what is Good, True, and Beautiful even at the cost of their lives, and people who give in to the allure of worldly power (and ultimately Pride in its essential form) and find nothing but evil and death at the end of that path. The heroes are heroic and the villains are villainous, something lacking in today’s fascination with anti-heroes and fallen angels. The fantasy elements are no different from those found in Narnia or Tolkien. These are modern myths that teach truths that kids can soak up easily, and then recognize in other places. I will be happy when my kids are old enough to read Potter.

  43. tcreek says:

    “Now is the winter of our discontent.”

    The time of unhappiness is past. Now we have a new springtime for the Church brought forth by the Second Vatican Council.

  44. NancyJ says:

    @Marc M – did you take the 16 mins to listen to the sermon? It would be well worth your time.

    FYI – the sermon is from an FSSP priest. Straight and to the point. Ultimately, it is about saving the souls of your family…I am sure we can all agree on that.

  45. Jim R says:

    Wow – the second time in a short period where you have disparaged a valid Ecumenical Council! If you attacked the “Spirit” of Vatican II or the mal-implementation, that would be one thing. But, you consistently attack the council itself.

    I joked before that you needed confession for a similar attack. Now, I think you are indeed moving toward schism. You really have gone beyond the pale and need to return humbly and quickly to the fold. Hubris is a terrible thing…and I fear you’ve become afflicted.

    [You are being silly. And I fear that you won’t be posting comments here anymore. o{]:¬) ]

  46. mysticalrose says:

    But Father, Cathleen Kaveny and the like aren’t dissenters, they’re prophets! Oh, and you hate Vatican II!

  47. Marc M says:

    I was able to listen in the car just now. All I can say is that I disagree with the priest on the recording. One can read fantasy as literature and learn truth from the human stories without following occult practices. If not, we have to throw out much of Shakespeare, King Arthur, Star Wars… as I mentioned before, Narnia and Middle-Earth. My children will encounter ancient Greek and Roman mythology in school, but I don’t fear them praying to Zeus afterward. Let literature be literature.

    The homilist even stated that yoga is okay as long as it is purely exercise without the religious aspects. Why is fantasy not also okay if it’s purely literature?

  48. benedetta says:

    The “V” Monologues, STILL? Really? Didn’t that jump the shark eons ago. Can’t really picture college students getting together at this point and saying, you know what would be really cool…I will bet you dollars to donuts that behind each current campus production of the V Monologues on these campuses is an administrator/faculty member plus a community activist of the order of PP or “women’s health” pushing it. As to it being a fundraiser, really? Since when to college students have a lot of money to throw around to support fundraisers. People aren’t clamoring to go see the V Monologues. As to the refusal to say no to the hostile agenda, Catholic college and university administrators need to rest assured that growing a backbone on this won’t make them look like “prudes”. Isn’t that the mortal fear for the boomer elites?

  49. wmeyer says:

    Not at all sure what the survey proves. “The figures are weighted…” it says, but I did not find any information on on the weighting.

    As to what people, especially Catholic adults, may believe about movies or books, we have had 40+ years of little to no real catechesis, so we are talking about people whose knowledge of their faith is, in charity, questionable. And consciences which range mostly from unformed to ill-formed.

    I am working now to organize a group in my parish with the goal of presenting a continuing class in the catechism for adults. I think it is something from which most of us could benefit.

  50. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Jim and shin,

    It would be good to see some of the parallels sketched out for ease of discussion, though, of course, everyone could trying reading St. Alphonsus (for which recommendation and link, thanks!) and The Silmarillion, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and various other posthumously published material, and drawing their own conclusions, as suggested.

    As Imrahil notes “Tolkien does not claim to describe the real world”, though what he says in the selection of letters published posthumously is worth reading and pondering. C.S. Lewis has interesting discussions of what he calls fictional ‘supposal’, which he clearly distinguishes from ‘speculation’. and it might be interesting to try applying this to Tolkien’s work, too.

    My impression (before undertaking the convenient method of detailed comparison suggested), is that Tolkien may be trying to imagine a possible ‘early history’ of earth that is compatible with Salvation History.

    And I wonder, for example, how far Raphael in the Book of Tobias is a model for Gandalf (among other figures) – with a sort of very long term and close relation to bodily existence (of the sort Raphael had more briefly, but perhaps more thoroughly related to the bodily than Raphael was). Gandalf can do much, and he even seems to undergo something (perhaps comparable to the experience of St. Lazarus in the Gospel of St. John) that points ‘forward’ typologically to the Resurrection, but he could clearly never be the Savior. I think here (whether that was Tolkien’s conscious intention or not) he shows the insufficiency of something like an Arian Christology where Christ is seriously imaged by Arius as a sort of super-angel become man to save the world – but no angel, however above all other angels, could be the Savior, only the Incarnate Son. Thus (it seems to me) Tolkien in fact supplies a vivid illustration of the insufficiency that is characteristic of the heretical.

    The One Ring is destroyed on 25 March, another piece of imaginary typology and preparation for the Gospel, I think. The Ring was a great danger, and its destruction a great good that ‘saved the day’ in a real sense, but it was no final, thorough destruction of sin and death and defeat of the most powerful rebel angel: again, Tolkien makes clear that nothing men or angels could do, would accomplish any of those things – that awaits the Incarnation of God the Son at the Annunciation, and His Sacrificial Death on the Cross.

  51. JacobWall says:

    My alma mater is the University of Waterloo, where St. Jerome’s is located; it’s a 3 minute walk (if you hurry) right across a creak and a picturesque park space from the Modern Languages building, where I studied Greek, Latin and German. I wasn’t Catholic at the time, but I remember walking past St. Jerome’s across the picturesque lawn now and then wondering what it would be like; curiosity had already taken root. I think it’s safe to say that the Holy Spirit protected me from ever going to Mass there or inquiring about the Catholic faith. I might not be Catholic today if I had. (I have heard worse than what is reported in this article.)

    Waterloo Catholic District School Board is the Catholic school board which our sons *would* belong to if they were in a Catholic school. As per Venerable Fulton Sheen, we have chosen to send them to the public school.

    We thank God that we have had wonderful, faithful and hardworking priests at our parish here in the Waterloo countryside. I can’t see for the life of me how they cope and keep themselves sane having to deal with monstrosities like the Waterloo Catholic District School Board.

    (By the way, when a friend shared this LifeSite article with me, I wondered how they had forgotten to mention the inspiring example of Hans Kung. Does he actually have to go through with his latest publicity stunt and have himself euthanized before dissenting Catholics include him in their stock list of influences and inspirations? I mean, I know Gregory Baum is “local,” and we like to support local talent, but really, Hans Kung has certainly one-upped all those other dissenters this time – http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2014/02/kung-the-confused)

  52. JacobWall says:

    As for the Tolkien discussion here, seeking parallels to the Bible is probably not the best way to go about exploring how his faith shaped his stories; he did not like allegory, especially not the very obvious kind like that (Gandalf = Raphael, etc.)

    A good place to start to see how Tolkien’s work stands out from other fantasy is to consider the conflict between light and darkness and how this reflects the battle between good and evil (and actually well done in the movies as well.) Instead of seeking very exact parallels in the plot or characters, we could also consider his own idea of “eucatastrophy” – the catastrophic final event which brings salvation.

    In any case, it would be incorrect to think that these books were written to allegorize Catholicism, or to teach Catholicism, but not to think that they were influenced and shaped by the faith of their author.

    Similar observations have been made about Harry Potter and its author, yet I think it’s safe to say that besides being influenced by a fairly solid Catholic faith (and perhaps even more importantly) Tolkien’s work are far more refined. In any case, no one should think that fantasy books – well written or other wise – are biblical, like the Bible, based on the Bible, a good substitute for/introduction to the Bible, etc.

  53. jflare says:

    So now we’re discussing how how Harry Potter or The Hunger Games could be “biblical”. eh?
    First question: What the devil does “being biblical”..mean?

    I have read the Harry Potter books and watched the movies; I have enjoyed them all. I think they’re a great mystery story and CAN teach the ideals of virtue, morals, and how good overcomes evil. Biblical though? Only EXTREMELY obliquely!
    I can’t precisely speak about The Hunger Games; I’ve seen part of the movie on pilgrimage trip, but I was on a bus packed with people (headed for the 2013 March for Life), and only paid comparatively oblique attention to the movie. I have no memory at all of how the story ends, though I do recall a scene in which the, um, “director” of the Games, is induced to accept two winners..I think. Something about young love is all I remember of it.
    Perhaps they could make a case for self-sacrifice because the young woman “sacrifices” herself to the Games in the effort of not allowing her young sister (less than age 10, I think) to be forced to compete. It’s still be awfully oblique.
    In some ways, both movies/series remind me of AI, Artificial Intelligence, that starred Haley Joel Osment: there is a sort of moral theme to the movie, but it takes so long to get there that it’s easily lost on the average viewer.
    I’d need to watch it from end to end and actually see the end result..when I have some time to do so.

    I think a key problem you’ll typically have with any Hollywood production is that it’s very difficult to create a story that provides a compelling drama, not settling for merely being preachy.

  54. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Jacob Wall,

    O, Leide, weh! (to quote Mahler’s ‘Das Klagende Lied’) – have I really expressed myself so badly?
    I intended exactly as little with reference to allegory or ‘allegorizing Catholicism’ as I explicitly said: nothing!

    What I meant is, for example, there seems some sort of detailed ‘angelology’ implicit in The Book of Tobias. And Tolkien imagines (perhaps imagines, I would say, as what Lewis calls a ‘supposal’) – not asserts as speculation – a possible angelology, consistent with the reality of the universe as created by God, which consistency includes not being some sort of allegory or speculation which promotes anything heretical. Tolkien’s imaginative angelic existence shares features (and may be in some sense indebted in doing so) with the presentation of St. Raphael in The Book of Tobias. That seems to me a perfectly reasonable way of looking at “parallels to the Bible”.

    Tolkien, without allegorizing, very deliberately, even emphatically, makes the destruction of the Ring take place on 25 March (e.g., see the last six paragraphs of Appendix D of The Lord of the Rings). Why might he do that? I have suggested what i take to be a plausible, even likely reason.

    Tolkien has certainly imagined a history of the world during much of a period before the Incarnation took place in the real history of the world. His imagination of the world is as a fallen world in which no action of good angels and no ordinary action of men or other intelligent mortal creatures, however heroic, can effect salvation. That is certainly consistent with the Scriptures, their traditional orthodox exegesis, and with orthodox teaching.

    Tolkien interestingly discusses the possible values of ‘application’ rather than ‘allegorization’ of (elements of) his work. Could that not even include a serving in some ways or degrees as preparation for “introduction to the Bible” and the Gospel for those who have never encountered either?

    I thoroughly agree about the importance of considering what he says about “eucatastrophy” – including its relation to “evangelium” – in “On Fairy Stories”.

    And it seems quite legitimate to consider whether details of his imagined world would be heretical if asserted doctrinally or even speculatively with relation to the real creation.

  55. Absit invidia says:

    These books are novels. No imprimaturs here and they shouldn’t be given that level of importance.

  56. JacobWall says:

    @Venerator Sti Lot,

    Correction accepted! I didn’t read your comments as carefully as I should’ve. I included that example after having read the comments and not carefully considering where that example was coming from.

    As for using LOTR as an ‘“introduction to the Bible” and the Gospel for those who have never encountered either,’ I’m not sure that I would hand someone a copy of the book in hope that it would lead them to the Church, but there are certainly cases in which it has indeed done something to that effect. For myself, reading his books was an early first step, a sort of turning point at which I first turned my eyes towards the Catholic Church. I guess I would put it this way; I would not intentionally try to use it as such, but it certainly could be ‘ “introduction to the Bible” and the Gospel for those who have never encountered either’ for certain people. It would also give me some sort of hope to know that someone who did not know the Gospel found pleasure in reading his books; I think this is essentially in line with what you are saying.

    I have a question for you: while it could be “legitimate to consider whether details of his imagined world would be heretical if asserted doctrinally or even speculatively with relation to the real creation” what value would we have in doing so? (I am not doubting what you say, only curious to know.)

  57. Imrahil says:

    Cut the “@”s.

  58. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Jacob Wall,

    Thank you for following up as you have!

    I would have to think about when or if I might (or even may have) deliberately recommend(ed) Tolkien’s works as a sort of “praeparatio Evangelica” in a ‘past watchful dragons’ sort of way without any explicit reference to (possible) Christian connections.

    I think I was indeed thinking more about it ‘happening’ in the (Providential) way of things, in the way you discuss. (I will just add that The Hobbit and LotR certainly helped feed and develop my attention to Providence.) His works are, of course, no more guaranteed to have such a ‘preparatory’ effect than, for example, good musical settings of sacred texts, or worthy retellings of (parts of ) Holy Scripture. There are, sadly, even keen Tolkien fans who are virulently anti-Christian, and/or neo-pagan, or (I think) self-consciously Satanist (!) – though let us hope and pray the do not remain so till their last moment!

    As to the comparison with the heretical, that was in the first place with reference to Jim’s comment (13 Feb., 6:20 am) and shin’s response. I have not taken the time to follow my own recommendation to go reading around in his letters, but I have a nagging memory of Tolkien discussing some such things in answering readers. More generally, it might be worthwhile in thinking about different types or uses of fiction, in relation to the “Primary World, Reality”. (Maybe it is more of a comparison than an example, but a writer might – and perhaps at times Tolkien does – imagine a kind of ‘instrumental magic’ that ‘really works’ without any danger of its working being due to demonic involvement, while in the “Primary World, Reality”, we can never rule out that danger.)

  59. Imrahil says:

    A useful source that treats (and contradicts) the assumptions in the FSSP sermon quoted on Rorate that has been cited here is found there: http://maryvictrix.com/2014/02/10/is-tolkiens-fantasy-gnostic/

  60. Imrahil says:

    I’m said to say it, but people, and I mean especially such people who have the power to fight evil with sermons, should really have a clear distinction between what is evil and what is merely fun, possibly without being all praying, heavy work, evangelization etc.

    We have to avoid evil. Plain and simply. We do not have to avoid fun.

Comments are closed.