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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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Alphonsus Liguori: 
		<p>Moral theology, Vatican II said, should be more thoroughly nourished by Scripture, and show the nobility of the Christian vocation of the faithful and their obligation to bring forth fruit in charity for the life of the world. Alphonsus, declared patron of moral theologians by Pius XII in 1950, would rejoice in that statement.</p>
		<p>In his day, Alphonsus fought for the liberation of moral theology from the rigidity of Jansenism. His moral theology, which went through 60 editions in the century following him, concentrated on the practical and concrete problems of pastors and confessors. If a certain legalism and minimalism crept into moral theology, it should not be attributed to this model of moderation and gentleness.</p>
		<p>At the University of Naples he received, at the age of 16, a doctorate in both canon and civil law by acclamation, but she oon gave up the practice of law for apostolic activity. He was ordained a priest and concentrated his pastoral efforts on popular (parish) missions, hearing confessions, forming Christian groups. </p>
		<p>He founded the Redemptorist congregation in 1732. It was an association of priests and brothers living a common life, dedicated to the imitation of Christ, and working mainly in popular missions for peasants in rural areas. Almost as an omen of what was to come later, he found himself deserted, after a while, by all his original companions except one lay brother. But the congregation managed to survive and was formally approved 17 years later, though its troubles were not over. </p>
		<p>Alphonsus’ great pastoral reforms were in the pulpit and confessional—replacing the pompous oratory of the time with simplicity, and the rigorism of Jansenism with kindness. His great fame as a writer has somewhat eclipsed the fact that for 26 years he traveled up and down the Kingdom of Naples, preaching popular missions. </p>
		<p>He was made bishop (after trying to reject the honor) at 66 and at once instituted a thorough reform of his diocese. </p>
		<p>His greatest sorrow came toward the end of his life. The Redemptorists, precariously continuing after the suppression of the Jesuits in 1773, had difficulty in getting their Rule approved by the Kingdom of Naples. Alphonsus acceded to the condition that they possess no property in common, but a royal official, with the connivance of a high Redemptorist official, changed the Rule substantially. Alphonsus, old, crippled and with very bad sight, signed the document, unaware that he had been betrayed. The Redemptorists in the Papal States then put themselves under the pope, who withdrew those in Naples from the jurisdiction of Alphonsus. It was only after his death that the branches were united. </p>
		<p>At 71 he was afflicted with rheumatic pains which left incurable bending of his neck; until it was straightened a little, the pressure of his chin caused a raw wound on his chest. He suffered a final 18 months of “dark night” scruples, fears, temptations against every article of faith and every virtue, interspersed with intervals of light and relief, when ecstasies were frequent. </p>
		<p>Alphonsus is best known for his moral theology, but he also wrote well in the field of spiritual and dogmatic theology. His <i>Glories of Mary</i> is one of the great works on that subject, and his book <i>Visits to the Blessed Sacrament</i> went through 40 editions in his lifetime, greatly influencing the practice of this devotion in the Church.</p>
American Catholic Blog Those who want to participate more fully in salvation history are comforted by the fact that Jesus wants to walk with us in our suffering and wants to break bread to give us strength on our way.

 
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