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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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Conversion of St. Paul: Paul’s entire life can be explained in terms of one experience—his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus. In an instant, he saw that all the zeal of his dynamic personality was being wasted, like the strength of a boxer swinging wildly. Perhaps he had never seen Jesus, who was only a few years older. But he had acquired a zealot’s hatred of all Jesus stood for, as he began to harass the Church: “...entering house after house and dragging out men and women, he handed them over for imprisonment” (Acts 8:3b). Now he himself was “entered,” possessed, all his energy harnessed to one goal—being a slave of Christ in the ministry of reconciliation, an instrument to help others experience the one Savior. 
<p>One sentence determined his theology: “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:5b). Jesus was mysteriously identified with people—the loving group of people Saul had been running down like criminals. Jesus, he saw, was the mysterious fulfillment of all he had been blindly pursuing. </p><p>From then on, his only work was to “present everyone perfect in Christ. For this I labor and struggle, in accord with the exercise of his power working within me” (Colossians 1:28b-29). “For our gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and [with] much conviction” (1 Thessalonians 1:5a). </p><p>Paul’s life became a tireless proclaiming and living out of the message of the cross: Christians die baptismally to sin and are buried with Christ; they are dead to all that is sinful and unredeemed in the world. They are made into a new creation, already sharing Christ’s victory and someday to rise from the dead like him. Through this risen Christ the Father pours out the Spirit on them, making them completely new. </p><p>So Paul’s great message to the world was: You are saved entirely by God, not by anything you can do. Saving faith is the gift of total, free, personal and loving commitment to Christ, a commitment that then bears fruit in more “works” than the Law could ever contemplate.</p> American Catholic Blog If you’re confused as to why God would die for you, you either need to rethink your vision of His mercy or of your own worth.

 
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