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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

The Stepfather

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service

"The Stepfather" (Screen Gems) is director Nelson McCormick's tedious remake of Joseph Rubin's 1987 chillfest of the same title which, like its two sequels, received an "O" classification from the Office for Film & Broadcasting. Though the homicidal episodes in this misguided attempt at a reboot are relatively restrained, the moral outlook of the latest version earns it a similar thumbs-down.

Returning home from the military school to which he has been consigned for past unruliness, Michael (Penn Badgley) finds his divorced mother, Susan (Sela Ward), living with, and engaged to, David (Dylan Walsh), a seemingly affable but strangely resume-free fellow she met in a grocery store.

As the audience knows from the opening scenes, and as Michael gradually begins to suspect, David's smiles and pro-family sentiments disguise a murderous agenda, though no coherent motive is ever suggested for his pursuit of it. With viewers thus deliberately tipped off to the mystery man's true identity from the start, the only potential for suspense lies in waiting for the other characters—a remarkably dense lot—to catch up with the audience.

In the interval, we're introduced to Michael's girlfriend, Kelly (Amber Heard), whose wardrobe seems to consist almost entirely of bikinis and underwear, and to Susan's sister, who is involved in a lesbian relationship that J.S. Cardone's script implicitly and matter-of-factly endorses.

Though scenes of Michael and Kelly clinching on his bed or in the backyard pool are not overly explicit, the fact that both are still in high school suggests that such activity is not only maritally but developmentally premature.

The film contains a benign view of homosexual acts, cohabitation, brief nongraphic nonmarital (possibly underage) sexual activity, moderate criminal violence, a half-dozen uses of profanity, and a few crude and crass terms. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is O—morally offensive. 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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Katharine Drexel: If your father is an international banker and you ride in a private railroad car, you are not likely to be drawn into a life of voluntary poverty. But if your mother opens your home to the poor three days each week and your father spends half an hour each evening in prayer, it is not impossible that you will devote your life to the poor and give away millions of dollars. Katharine Drexel did that. 
<p>She was born in Philadelphia in 1858. She had an excellent education and traveled widely. As a rich girl, she had a grand debut into society. But when she nursed her stepmother through a three-year terminal illness, she saw that all the Drexel money could not buy safety from pain or death, and her life took a profound turn. </p><p>She had always been interested in the plight of the Indians, having been appalled by what she read in Helen Hunt Jackson’s <i>A Century of Dishonor</i>. While on a European tour, she met Pope Leo XIII and asked him to send more missionaries to Wyoming for her friend Bishop James O’Connor. The pope replied, “Why don’t you become a missionary?” His answer shocked her into considering new possibilities. </p><p>Back home, Katharine visited the Dakotas, met the Sioux leader Red Cloud and began her systematic aid to Indian missions. </p><p>She could easily have married. But after much discussion with Bishop O’Connor, she wrote in 1889, “The feast of St. Joseph brought me the grace to give the remainder of my life to the Indians and the Colored.” Newspaper headlines screamed “Gives Up Seven Million!” </p><p>After three and a half years of training, she and her first band of nuns (Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored) opened a boarding school in Santa Fe. A string of foundations followed. By 1942 she had a system of black Catholic schools in 13 states, plus 40 mission centers and 23 rural schools. Segregationists harassed her work, even burning a school in Pennsylvania. In all, she established 50 missions for Indians in 16 states. </p><p>Two saints met when Katharine was advised by Mother Cabrini about the “politics” of getting her Order’s Rule approved in Rome. Her crowning achievement was the founding of Xavier University in New Orleans, the first Catholic university in the United States for African Americans. </p><p>At 77, she suffered a heart attack and was forced to retire. Apparently her life was over. But now came almost 20 years of quiet, intense prayer from a small room overlooking the sanctuary. Small notebooks and slips of paper record her various prayers, ceaseless aspirations and meditation. She died at 96 and was canonized in 2000.</p> American Catholic Blog Our task during these forty days is to examine our lives in light of God’s Word and see where we’ve allowed darkness to creep in, where we’ve taken the bait of the diabolical fisher of men. It’s time to use the sword of the Spirit to cut through his web of deception, to free ourselves from the net that holds us as prey.


 
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