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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

The Blind Side

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Quinton Aaron and Sandra Bullock star in a scene from the movie "The Blind Side."
An inscription over the entry gate of the Memphis, Tenn., school where some of the early scenes of the inspirational family drama "The Blind Side" (Warner Bros.) are set reads: "With God all things are possible" (Mt 19:26). That Bible verse aptly characterizes the remarkable series of real-life events first recounted in Michael Lewis' 2006 best-seller The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, and here adapted for the screen.

The Christian academy in question is the meeting place of homeless, solitary and emotionally shell-shocked black teen Michael Oher (appealing newcomer Quinton Aaron) and two fellow students—white children of privilege Collins (Lily Collins) and S.J. (Jae Head) Tuohy— whose family is destined to transform his life and to be, in turn, transformed by him.

This seemingly unlikely scenario comes about thanks to the impulsive compassion of the Tuohy children's feisty mother, Leigh Anne (Sandra Bullock). Spotting Michael wandering the streets on a winter night dressed only in shorts and a T-shirt, no-nonsense Leigh Anne— whose motivations throughout are shown to be explicitly religious—bundles him into the family car and, with the quiet support of admiring hubby Sean (Tim McGraw), offers him the living room couch for the night.

As this arrangement becomes more permanent—and Michael becomes an increasingly integral part of the Tuohy clan—socialite Leigh Anne, a successful interior decorator, discovers both the latent prejudices of the ladies with whom she lunches and the grim realities of life in Michael's home neighborhood, an area appropriately known as Hurt Village that, although just across town, has previously been terra incognita to her.

Michael's original admission to his otherwise all-white private school was based on a coach's (Ray McKinnon) perception of his football potential. (As Bullock's opening narration makes clear, Michael has the perfect build to play left tackle, a key position charged with defending a right-handed quarterback from being sacked from his blind side.).

But Michael's education has been so woefully neglected that his grades are far below the requisite average that would allow him to join the team. So his adoptive kin set to work, helping Michael to hone his on-field skills while also hiring determined tutor Miss Sue (Kathy Bates) to raise his academic standing.

Driven by Bullock's field-sweeping performance, writer-director John Lee Hancock's unapologetically Christian tale of human solidarity across racial and class divides—though restricted to adult and, perhaps, mature teen audiences by the elements listed below—is funny, shrewd and ultimately uplifting.

The film contains brief nongraphic marital lovemaking, at least one profanity, a few sexual and drug references, and a half-dozen 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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John Paul II: “Open wide the doors to Christ,” urged John Paul II during the homily at the Mass when he was installed as pope in 1978. <br /><br />Born in Wadowice, Poland, Karol Jozef Wojtyla had lost his mother, father and older brother before his 21st birthday. Karol’s promising academic career at Krakow’s Jagiellonian University was cut short by the outbreak of World War II. While working in a quarry and a chemical factory, he enrolled in an “underground” seminary in Kraków. Ordained in 1946, he was immediately sent to Rome where he earned a doctorate in theology. <br /><br />Back in Poland, a short assignment as assistant pastor in a rural parish preceded his very fruitful chaplaincy for university students. Soon he earned a doctorate in philosophy and began teaching that subject at Poland’s University of Lublin. <br /><br />Communist officials allowed him to be appointed auxiliary bishop of Kraków in 1958, considering him a relatively harmless intellectual. They could not have been more wrong! <br /><br />He attended all four sessions of Vatican II and contributed especially to its <em>Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World</em>. Appointed as archbishop of Kraków in 1964, he was named a cardinal three years later. <br /><br />Elected pope in October 1978, he took the name of his short-lived, immediate predecessor. Pope John Paul II was the first non-Italian pope in 455 years. In time, he made pastoral visits to 124 countries, including several with small Christian populations. <br /><br />He promoted ecumenical and interfaith initiatives, especially the 1986 Day of Prayer for World Peace in Assisi. He visited Rome’s Main Synagogue and the Western Wall in Jerusalem; he also established diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Israel. He improved Catholic-Muslim relations and in 2001 visited a mosque in Damascus, Syria. <br /><br />The Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, a key event in John Paul’s ministry, was marked by special celebrations in Rome and elsewhere for Catholics and other Christians. Relations with the Orthodox Churches improved considerably during his ministry as pope. <br /><br />“Christ is the center of the universe and of human history” was the opening line of his 1979 encyclical, <em>Redeemer of the Human Race</em>. In 1995, he described himself to the United Nations General Assembly as “a witness to hope.” <br /><br />His 1979 visit to Poland encouraged the growth of the Solidarity movement there and the collapse of communism in central and eastern Europe 10 years later. He began World Youth Day and traveled to several countries for those celebrations. He very much wanted to visit China and the Soviet Union but the governments in those countries prevented that. <br /><br />One of the most well-remembered photos of his pontificate was his one-on-one conversation in 1983 with Mehmet Ali Agca, who had attempted to assassinate him two years earlier. <br /><br />In his 27 years of papal ministry, John Paul II wrote 14 encyclicals and five books, canonized 482 saints and beatified 1,338 people. <br /><br />In the last years of his life, he suffered from Parkinson’s disease and was forced to cut back on some of his activities. <br /><br />Pope Benedict XVI beatified John Paul II in 2011, and Pope Francis canonized him in 2014. American Catholic Blog Lord, may I have balance and measure in everything—except in Love. —St. Josemaría Escrivá

 
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