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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Green Lantern

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Ryan Reynolds stars in a scene from the movie "Green Lantern."
It's an unsettling sign when a contemporary film might aptly be subtitled "Triumph of the Will" -- the moniker, of course, of Leni Riefenstahl's 1935 pro-Nazi "documentary" and a phrase that highlights the Hitler movement's debt to the atheistic, nihilist philosophy of Friederich Nietzsche (1844-1900).

But such, surprisingly enough, is the case with the mediocre comic-book adaptation "Green Lantern" (Warner Bros.), an adventure whose underlying mythos pits will against fear, glorifying the former and claiming for it powers that are at best unrealistic and at worst unintentionally blasphemous.

Granted, director Martin Campbell's screen version of a set of tales that date back to 1940 is a sci-fi fantasy, and one within which the will is consistently directed and trained to good ends. Adult viewers, accordingly, will likely have little difficulty either sorting through the values on offer or dismissing the muddled metaphysics out of hand.

Responsible parents of faith, nonetheless, will be reluctant to have their targeted teens exposed to a set of ideas—e.g., "Will turns thought into reality," meaning, in this case, physical reality—that seem tainted by a range of crackpot ideologies.

The man eventually achieving whatever his mind is conceiving is devil-may-care test pilot Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds). Through a set of circumstances—and a wad of exposition—best left on screen, Jordan suddenly finds himself endowed with superhuman powers and enlisted, somewhat against his will, in the ranks of an elite force of intergalactic warriors.

Presenting the yang to Hal's yin is brooding biology professor Dr. Hector Hammond (Peter Sarsgaard).

When Hammond is accidentally infected with super-villain negative energy—via another chain of events over which we needn't tarry—it offers him the chance to act on his long-standing jealousy of Hal's on-again, off-again relationship with aeronautics executive Carol Ferris (Blake Lively) whom both men have known—and, presumably, loved—since childhood.

The effects-driven proceedings that follow do see Hal struggling to become more responsible—in the bedroom as well as on the cosmic beat. (We know his behavior within the first forum is in need of rehabilitation since the opening scene shows him parting company with an acquaintance of recent vintage after what was clearly a one-night stand.)

But scenes in which Hal creates physical objects by willing them into existence—a form of creativity reserved to God alone—as well as a script that presents the will, properly channeled, as the strongest force in the universe suggest a worldview not easily squared with the teachings of Scripture. Well-grounded grown-ups may want to hunt for that congruence; youngsters should not undertake the search.

The film contains themes requiring mature discernment, much bloodless violence, implied casual sex, a few uses of profanity as well as some crude language and sexual references. The Catholic News Service 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.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.



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Robert Bellarmine: When Robert Bellarmine was ordained in 1570, the study of Church history and the fathers of the Church was in a sad state of neglect. A promising scholar from his youth in Tuscany, he devoted his energy to these two subjects, as well as to Scripture, in order to systematize Church doctrine against the attacks of the Protestant Reformers. He was the first Jesuit to become a professor at Louvain. 
<p>His most famous work is his three-volume <i>Disputations on the Controversies </i><em>of the Christian Faith</em>. Particularly noteworthy are the sections on the temporal power of the pope and the role of the laity. He incurred the anger of monarchists in England and France by showing the divine-right-of-kings theory untenable. He developed the theory of the indirect power of the pope in temporal affairs; although he was defending the pope against the Scottish philosopher Barclay, he also incurred the ire of Pope Sixtus V. </p><p>Bellarmine was made a cardinal by Pope Clement VIII on the grounds that "he had not his equal for learning." While he occupied apartments in the Vatican, Bellarmine relaxed none of his former austerities. He limited his household expenses to what was barely essential, eating only the food available to the poor. He was known to have ransomed a soldier who had deserted from the army and he used the hangings of his rooms to clothe poor people, remarking, "The walls won't catch cold." </p><p>Among many activities, he became theologian to Pope Clement VIII, preparing two catechisms which have had great influence in the Church. </p><p>The last major controversy of Bellarmine's life came in 1616 when he had to admonish his friend Galileo, whom he admired. Bellarmine delivered the admonition on behalf of the Holy Office, which had decided that the heliocentric theory of Copernicus (the sun as stationary) was contrary to Scripture. The admonition amounted to a caution against putting forward—other than as a hypothesis—theories not yet fully proved. This shows that saints are not infallible. </p><p>Bellarmine died on September 17, 1621. The process for his canonization was begun in 1627 but was delayed until 1930 for political reasons, stemming from his writings. In 1930, Pope Pius XI canonized him and the next year declared him a doctor of the Church.</p> American Catholic Blog The joy of the Lord is our strength. Therefore, each of us will accept a life of poverty in cheerful trust. We will minister to Christ in the distressing disguise of the poor with cheerful devotion. If our work is done with joy, we will have no reason to be unhappy.

 
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