Napa Institute Conference: Day 1

I arrived last night in Napa for the Napa Institute conference.  I got here, despite the interference of Pres. Obama.  I digress.

The digs are elegant, the weather, perfect.  I know quite a few people, since there is some cross over with other conferences I have attended.  This is the first time I have attended this one, thanks to the generosity of others.

Last night, I saw an advance screening of a movie with Jim Caviezel, When The Game Stands Tall.  The name is a bit odd, but it explains itself along the way.  This is a new contribution to a well-established genre, the high school football movie.  It is based on a true story of Catholic De Lasalle Highschool, not far from where I write, which had a football team winning streak of – I am not making this up – 151 games.  The coach’s desire was to bring out of all the boys a perfect effort, not necessarily a win, and, thereby, help them become men.  The movie is, in an over-arching way, formulaic – as true stories often are, you know.  Man remains the same, fallen and risen.  So, the winning team has a crisis they have to overcome and they find themselves along the way.  The coach has a crisis, and he has to figure out being both a coach and a husband and father.  There is a moment of truth (involving – yes – a football game).  Sound familiar?  It ought to.  But this movie does it well.  A week or so ago I watched a similar movie, made by Evangelicals from a big church in Georgia (US not Asia).  Same basic common themes, but will overt Evangelical “Bible only” … well… thumping… and not a little prosperity Gospel stuff tossed in for good measure.   This new movie is not overtly Catholic.  Though it is at a Catholic Highschool, there is no cleric involved.  The only church scene is in a baptist church.  Scripture verses figure a couple times, and prominently and appropriately.  You see the players at prayer twice (I think) and, that, the Lord’s Prayer.   So, this is not in-your-face Catholcism.  But, the world-view in the movie seemed Catholic to me.  The concept of the team promoted by their coach seemed to be founded on sacrificial love: seek that which is good for the other, not just for oneself.  Make a perfect effort.

I hope that, as the release date of the film comes closer, you will, in your parishes and groups, promote the film and even organize trips to the theatre as groups to see it early in its release.

We have seen some films, and pretty ones – all things considered – from Evangelicals, Facing The GiantsThey are trying to use this medium (film) to advance that which is dear to them.  Watching the credits of the Georgia football movie blew me away, as I saw dozens and dozens of people and organizations and businesses that contributed to the effort, which was, effectively, a parish initiative… to make a movie.  Get that?  Could your parish make a movie?

Here is the trailer for the new Caviezel film:

This new movie, When The Game Stands Tall, is being put out by Carmel Communications.  And, it seems, they are not allowing the let grass grow under their feet.  The music disks of the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, are handled by Carmel Communications.  As they, and Carmel, have done well, they can tackle bigger projects.

Today, before the midday conference, Carmel showed us a tailer of another movie, to come out in September, The Song, which has something to do with the story of Solomon.

We have a lot of catching up to do.

Once upon a time, there was a strong positive Catholic strain in the film industry.  That went away.  It must be reclaimed.  That is why you, in a fundamental way, must choose to support Catholic films.  Make some plans.

In any event, there’s lots of food and wine – yes, wine.  Today there was a Mass with Cardinal Harvey.  Then Cardinal Levada exposed the Blessed Sacrament and had a procession.  Exposition goes on during the day, confessions are heard, there are multiple Masses, including the Extraordinary Form. No, they didn’t ask me, which was a mistake.  As I type there is a talk on Science and Faith.  Yes, I can multitask, which is a gift.

The conference schedule is pretty complicated, with overlapping streams.  You have to choose between good and good, alas, bilocation not being perfected.

I may just toss up my hands and drive around the vineyards and taste wine, which I haven’t done for many years.


Dr. Philip Jenkins Elements of Culture for a Thriving Faith

New Evangelization is a theme here. I wonder if we will hear anyone make a connection with our sacred liturgical worship. This fellow just ran down, I think, the old Mass for today. I’ll have to collar him later.



Card Levada is talking about New Evangelization.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. acardnal says:

    FYI, over the last couple of years, EWTN has recorded these talks and broadcast them at a later date. They also have made them available at some point in the future via the internet. Something to look forward to.

  2. Elizabeth D says:

    This event impresses me. I am not big on conferences etc (fortunate since I cannot afford t0) but I would like to attend the Napa Institute.

  3. Hollywood used to be the place where Jews controlled an industry that sold Catholic theology to Protestants, or so the old saw went.

  4. Sofia Guerra says:

    Watched a movie today on TCM called “The White Sister” It was made from the novel by Marion Crawford. It starred a very young Helen Hayes and equally young Clark Gable. The story revolves around a young woman and her struggle between a religious vocation and the love of a man.

    A few scenes were uncomfortably intimate as Miss Hayes is in a full habit resembling the Benedictines and Clark Gable is in her personal space. Aside from that, the scenes at the Traditional Mass, the reception and clothing day for Miss Hayes, and the choir singing the Gloria were stunning. It was blissful to see Catholicism shown so overtly and so beautifully. I will not reveal the ending but her choice is indeed, God’s Will.

    Movies such as this, The Song of Bernadette (which by the way earned Jennifer Jones the Academy Award for Best Actress for portraying Bernadette Soubirous) and others would never be made today as it would not be politically correct to show true Catholic Identity.

    I must say, that is our fault. As Catholics, we have allowed this and many of us are truly not Catholic at least when it comes to morality etc. I pray we understand what is at stake here.


  6. joecct77 says:

    An Oldie but Goodie

    Christmas Holiday with Deanna Durbin and Gene Kelly

    Part 2: (skip to about 8:30)
    Part 3:

  7. mo7 says:

    This is also a real oldie: The Return of Rin Tin Tin:
    A World War II European orphan, Paul, has lost all faith in humanity. Brought to the United States by Father Mathew, Paul’s confidence and faith are gradually restored through his close association with with a dog, Rin-Tin-Tin.

  8. Cantor says:

    I look forward to seeing the movie, but won’t be rooting for De La Salle. We and they started our football teams the same year, both with more freshmen than juniors and seniors because we were both brand new schools. We were ferocious rivals in the now-long-defunct Catholic Athletic League and in our opening game we kicked their… er… cleaned their clocks. They repaid us many times. Thanks for the memories!

  9. dowirz says:

    Fr. Z.,
    Let me know if you are interested in touring wineries; I have plenty of contacts in Napa, even though I’m on the Central Coast.

    Donald the Enologist

  10. acbprop says:

    I’m going to try to get my son’s high school football team together to see When the Game Stands Tall, even if I have to pay for it (it’s a public school so they have no money). Doesn’t is seem like the majority of great high school sports stories involve Catholic high schools?

  11. Sonshine135 says:

    Fr. Z, I agree that we are missing a good, Catholic element in Hollywood. Where are the great movies like The Ten Commandments, The Greatest Story Ever Told, Jesus of Nazareth, and The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima? I believe it to be such a shame that Mel Gibson jumped off the deep end like he did.

  12. Suburbanbanshee says:

    I recently saw a noir movie where one of the baddies died at the end, but received Anointing of the Sick and the Apostolic Blessing in the hospital before dying; and thus there was able to be a touching farewell of forgiveness at the end by Humphrey Bogart to the baddie who had just been trying to kill him. I think the movie’s name was Dead Reckoning (1947).

    Anyway, I can honestly say that I’ve never seen that in a movie before! It was very touching.

  13. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Oh, and I missed the beginning, but apparently the frame story is that the protagonist is telling the story at Confession. So there’s that doubt right away — is he going to be the good guy or not? What sin is he going to confess?

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