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John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service

Bruce Willis stars in a scene from the movie "Surrogates."
"Life, only better." So runs the advertising slogan of the conglomerate whose technological breakthrough—the development of a race of ideal-looking robotic alter egos remote-controlled by their human owners' thoughts—provides the premise for the futuristic thriller "Surrogates" (Touchstone).

This generally intriguing cautionary tale begins with a series of flashbacks showing us the profound, and seemingly positive, social changes brought about by the use of these mechanical avatars. As more and more people opt to remain in the safety of their homes and live their lives vicariously through their surrogates, for example, the crime rate dwindles to nothing.

So law enforcement authorities are shocked when the college-aged son of the man who invented surrogacy—the wheelchair-bound scientist is played, at different ages, by James Francis Ginty and James Cromwell—is murdered. Adding to their bewilderment is the fact that the young man died because his surrogate was destroyed, something that was thought to be impossible.

Assigned to investigate the high-profile case, Boston-based FBI agents Greer (Bruce Willis) and Peters (Radha Mitchell) gradually uncover a conspiracy that appears to involve the above-mentioned corporation, the Army, and even a group of anti-surrogate activists whose dreadlocked leader calls himself the Prophet (Ving Rhames).

Off the job, Greer mourns for his little son, who was killed in an auto accident, and longs to reconnect with his wife Maggie (Rosamund Pike). But Maggie—whose grief has caused her to become addicted to prescription pills—refuses to interact with him except via her surrogate, fearing that Greer will reject her if he sees the graying, ravaged figure she has become.

Director Jonathan Mostow's adaptation of Robert Venditti's graphic novel The Surrogates dramatizes the perils of contemporary technology, especially its potential to cut us off from human contact and from the world of nature. Through Greer and Maggie's troubles, John Brancato and Michael Ferris' script also explores the spiritual values undergirding a successful marriage.

The film contains considerable action violence, drug use, brief sexual situations, a couple of uses of profanity and a few crude and crass terms. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is A-III—adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
Mulderig is on the staff of the Office for Film & Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

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Charles de Foucauld: Born into an aristocratic family in Strasbourg, France, Charles was orphaned at the age of six, raised by his devout grandfather, rejected the Catholic faith as a teenager and joined the French army. Inheriting a great deal of money from his grandfather, Charles went to Algeria with his regiment, but not without his mistress, Mimi. <br /><br />When he declined to give her up, he was dismissed from the army. Still in Algeria when he left Mimi, Charles reenlisted in the army. Refused permission to make a scientific exploration of nearby Morocco, he resigned from the service. With the help of a Jewish rabbi, Charles disguised himself as a Jew and in 1883 began a one-year exploration that he recorded in a book that was well received. <br /><br />Inspired by the Jews and Muslims whom he met, Charles resumed the practice of his Catholic faith when he returned to France in 1886. He joined a Trappist monastery in Ardeche, France, and later transferred to one in Akbes, Syria. Leaving the monastery in 1897, Charles worked as gardener and sacristan for the Poor Clare nuns in Nazareth and later in Jerusalem. In 1901 he returned to France and was ordained a priest. <br /><br />Later that year Charles journeyed to Beni-Abbes, Morocco, intending to found a monastic religious community in North Africa that offered hospitality to Christians, Muslims, Jews, or people with no religion. He lived a peaceful, hidden life but attracted no companions. <br /><br />A former army comrade invited him to live among the Tuareg people in Algeria. Charles learned their language enough to write a Tuareg-French and French-Tuareg dictionary, and to translate the Gospels into Tuareg. In 1905 he came to Tamanrasset, where he lived the rest of his life. A two-volume collection of Charles' Tuareg poetry was published after his death. <br /><br />In early 1909 he visited France and established an association of laypeople who pledged to live by the Gospels. His return to Tamanrasset was welcomed by the Tuareg. In 1915 Charles wrote to Louis Massignon: “The love of God, the love for one’s neighbor…All religion is found there…How to get to that point? Not in a day since it is perfection itself: it is the goal we must always aim for, which we must unceasingly try to reach and that we will only attain in heaven.”   <br /><br />The outbreak of World War I led to attacks on the French in Algeria. Seized in a raid by another tribe, Charles and two French soldiers coming to visit him were shot to death on December 1, 1916. <br />Five religious congregations, associations, and spiritual institutes (Little Brothers of Jesus, Little Sisters of the Sacred Heart, Little Sisters of Jesus, Little Brothers of the Gospel and Little Sisters of the Gospel) draw inspiration from the peaceful, largely hidden, yet hospitable life that characterized Charles. He was beatified on November 13, 2005. American Catholic Blog You know, O my God, I have never desired anything but to love you, and I am ambitious for no other glory.


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