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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Mr. Popper's Penguins

By
Sr. Rose Pacatte, F.S.P.
Source: AmericanCatholic.org

Imagine if you were an only child and your father was seldom at home because he was wandering the earth looking for adventure. He would call or write, but eventually as you grew up, you almost forgot him.

This is the case of Mr. Popper (Jim Carrey). He is a hotshot Manhattan real estate broker with an assistant Pippi (Ophelia Lovibond) speaks with words that mostly begin with the letter “p”.  Mr. Popper and his wife Amanda (Carla Giugno) are divorced.  Their two children love their dad, but “Popper” as they all call him, is not very good at family life.

One day a crate is delivered to Mr. Popper’s condo and inside is a Gentoo penguin. Through a misunderstanding, five more arrive in the next crate. Popper doesn’t have permission to have pets and penguins are not meant to be in a New York condo, so a series of misadventures ensue that are pretty funny.

The film is based on the 1938 children’s classic by Richard and Florence Atwater. I have not read the book, but others who have say this film version is just not the same. Certainly it has been updated to reflect the social mores of today. Also, the film correctly places these penguins in Antarctica rather than the North Pole – there is no evidence that any penguins have colonized north of the equator.

Besides the film’s silly physical comedy, Angela Lansbury plays the owner of the Tavern on the Green in Central Park. Popper is supposed to convince her to sell it, but she will only sell to a person of character. Popper has a lot of growing up to do to meet her standards.

I often wonder if it is right to capture animals for zoos or to use wild animals in films and circuses for our entertainment. The American Humane Society http://americanhumaneblog.org/2011/06/the-real-star-of-mr-poppers-penguins-jim-carrey-or-the-gentoo/ gave “Mr. poppers Penguins” a “There were no animals harmed” rating of  “outstanding”.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church offers this as guidance: “It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly. It is likewise unworthy to spend money on them that should as a priority go to the relief of human misery. One can love animals; one should not direct to them the affection due only to persons.” (CCC #2418)

Actually, the Poppers get it right. But filmmakers and others who remove animals from their natural habitats for our entertainment, have some explaining to do.


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Bernard of Clairvaux: Man of the century! Woman of the century! You see such terms applied to so many today—“golfer of the century,” “composer of the century,” “right tackle of the century”—that the line no longer has any punch. But Western Europe's “man of the twelfth century,” without doubt or controversy, has to be Bernard of Clairvaux. Adviser of popes, preacher of the Second Crusade, defender of the faith, healer of a schism, reformer of a monastic Order, Scripture scholar, theologian and eloquent preacher: any one of these titles would distinguish an ordinary man. Yet Bernard was all of these—and he still retained a burning desire to return to the hidden monastic life of his younger days. 
<p>In the year 1111, at the age of 20, Bernard left his home to join the monastic community of Citeaux. His five brothers, two uncles and some 30 young friends followed him into the monastery. Within four years a dying community had recovered enough vitality to establish a new house in the nearby valley of Wormwoods, with Bernard as abbot. The zealous young man was quite demanding, though more on himself than others. A slight breakdown of health taught him to be more patient and understanding. The valley was soon renamed Clairvaux, the valley of light. </p><p>His ability as arbitrator and counselor became widely known. More and more he was lured away from the monastery to settle long-standing disputes. On several of these occasions he apparently stepped on some sensitive toes in Rome. Bernard was completely dedicated to the primacy of the Roman See. But to a letter of warning from Rome, he replied that the good fathers in Rome had enough to do to keep the Church in one piece. If any matters arose that warranted their interest, he would be the first to let them know. </p><p>Shortly thereafter it was Bernard who intervened in a full-blown schism and settled it in favor of the Roman pontiff against the antipope. </p><p>The Holy See prevailed on Bernard to preach the Second Crusade throughout Europe. His eloquence was so overwhelming that a great army was assembled and the success of the crusade seemed assured. The ideals of the men and their leaders, however, were not those of Abbot Bernard, and the project ended as a complete military and moral disaster. </p><p>Bernard felt responsible in some way for the degenerative effects of the crusade. This heavy burden possibly hastened his death, which came August 20, 1153.</p> American Catholic Blog One of the things that we need to remember is that we’re preaching Jesus, not the institutional Church. It’s easy to get caught up in the rules and regulations of the institution and forget that we are saved not by the Church but by the person of Jesus or the Church as the body of Christ.

 
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