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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Captain America: The First Avenger

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

During World War II, Steve (Chris Evans), a skinny kid from Brooklyn, tries to enlist in the army over and over, only to be deferred due to his small stature and asthma. Finally a government scientist, Dr. Erskine (Stanley Tucci), notices Steve; he is impressed by his courage, his humanity and heart.

Steve is placed in a special program that turns him into a superman, a fighting machine with a shield of red, white and blue, that can fend off the attacks of Hitler’s evil weaponry wizard, Dr. Schmidt (Hugo Weaving). It is revealed that Schmidt is really a demon called Red Skull, whose evil power stems from a secret energy source.
 
Captain America is a superhero from the Marvel Comic Book universe.  The first comic of the series was published in 1941 by Timely Comics, written by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, who were also co-founders of Marvel Comics.
 
With this summer’s release of “Thor” and “Captain America” the way is paved for next summer’s blockbuster release of “The Avengers” of the 21st century, a film that will be populated by now familiar cinematic characters drawn from the Golden Age of Comic Books (late 1930’s through the early 1950s) and more recent video games: The Hulk, Iron Man (we meet Tony Stark’s father in “Captain America: The First Avenger”), The Black Widow,  and Hawkeye (formerly of the Thunderbolts.)
 
Comic books-into-film is a hugely successful film genre because they are a special effects bonanza, the heroes are beautiful people, and the bad guys lose. The stories are basically the same: good vs. evil engage in a massive struggle and good triumphs. There is almost always an American patriotic spin to the plot. While good does triumph, the use of vengeance as a virtue is a concern to thoughtful viewers.  Also, seeing the world in the simplistic black and white categories of good vs. evil and violence as a way to solve problems, falls far outside of the Judeo-Christian worldview.
 
Comic books-into-film prod the audience to inquire: Is the superhero’s way the way of the Lord Jesus – and if it is not, what is?




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Martyrdom of John the Baptist: The drunken oath of a king with a shallow sense of honor, a seductive dance and the hateful heart of a queen combined to bring about the martyrdom of John the Baptist. The greatest of prophets suffered the fate of so many Old Testament prophets before him: rejection and martyrdom. The “voice crying in the desert” did not hesitate to accuse the guilty, did not hesitate to speak the truth. But why? What possesses a man that he would give up his very life? 
<p>This great religious reformer was sent by God to prepare the people for the Messiah. His vocation was one of selfless giving. The only power that he claimed was the Spirit of Yahweh. “I am baptizing you with water, for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I. I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3:11). Scripture tells us that many people followed John looking to him for hope, perhaps in anticipation of some great messianic power. John never allowed himself the false honor of receiving these people for his own glory. He knew his calling was one of preparation. When the time came, he led his disciples to Jesus: “The next day John was there again with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God.’ The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus” (John 1:35-37). It is John the Baptist who has pointed the way to Christ. John’s life and death were a giving over of self for God and other people. His simple style of life was one of complete detachment from earthly possessions. His heart was centered on God and the call that he heard from the Spirit of God speaking to his heart. Confident of God’s grace, he had the courage to speak words of condemnation or repentance, of salvation.</p> American Catholic Blog Just as my children become members of my family when I bring them into the world, so too our baptism incorporates us into the family of the Church. This supernatural membership prevents us from being orphans who have to fend for themselves in the spiritual wilderness.

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