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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

The Lorax

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

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not” says the Lorax (voice of Danny De Vito; for other voices see the Internet Movie Database http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1482459/) to the Once-ler who has moved into the forest to make a life for himself.

He chops down the trees to make “Thneeds”, a multipurpose ShamWow kind of garment. The Once-ler builds a factory and cuts down all the trees. This destroys the habitat for the animals and pollutes the air and water.

Fast forward many years and a 12-year old boy, Ted, wants to get a real live tree for Audrey, a girl he is sweet on. Ted has to break out of the plastic town he lives in (reminiscent of “The Truman Show”) and escape the greedy mayor and his thugs to find the Once-ler who will tell him how he can find a real tree.

“The Lorax” is a 3D computer generated image (CGI) animated fable based on Dr. Seuss’ 1971 book that does indeed “speak for the trees” and chronicles the destruction of the environment for profit.
 
As a film “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax” is a bit long and contrived. It is also more of a message movie than an entertainment. However, “The Lorax” reflects the book very well and teaches its message of doom for the environment, unless each person does care an awful lot, in a way that appeals to families. The voices of the popular actor Zac Efron and singer Taylor Swift are a draw for younger audiences.  But the clash between the artificiality of the town, the placid attitude of its citizens, the baby that turns green after falling or swimming in the water, and the destruction of the environment by industry, is strong nevertheless.

Although “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax” was released to commemorate Dr. Seuss’s 108th birthday, it is a perfect film for Earth Day, coming up on April 22. The themes of greed, unsustainability, and a scorched earth policy by corporations for profit (I am thinking of the 2011 film “The Last Mountain” about coal mining in West Virginia and 1994 film “The Burning Season” about deforestation of the Amazon region of South America), are clear in the film and correlate well with Themes of Catholic Social Teaching http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/what-we-believe/catholic-social-teaching.

I think “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax” is a must see for citizens and disciples of any age. So much to talk about, so many opportunities to do something to make a difference.


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Jacopone da Todi: Jacomo, or James, was born a noble member of the Benedetti family in the northern Italian city of Todi. He became a successful lawyer and married a pious, generous lady named Vanna. 
<p>His young wife took it upon herself to do penance for the worldly excesses of her husband. One day Vanna, at the insistence of Jacomo, attended a public tournament. She was sitting in the stands with the other noble ladies when the stands collapsed. Vanna was killed. Her shaken husband was even more disturbed when he realized that the penitential girdle she wore was for his sinfulness. On the spot, he vowed to radically change his life. </p><p>He divided his possessions among the poor and entered the Secular Franciscan Order (once known as the Third Order). Often dressed in penitential rags, he was mocked as a fool and called Jacopone, or "Crazy Jim," by his former associates. The name became dear to him. </p><p>After 10 years of such humiliation, Jacopone asked to be a member of the Order of Friars Minor(First Order). Because of his reputation, his request was initially refused. He composed a beautiful poem on the vanities of the world, an act that eventually led to his admission into the Order in 1278. He continued to lead a life of strict penance, declining to be ordained a priest. Meanwhile he was writing popular hymns in the vernacular. </p><p>Jacopone suddenly found himself a leader in a disturbing religious movement among the Franciscans. The Spirituals, as they were called, wanted a return to the strict poverty of Francis. They had on their side two cardinals of the Church and Pope Celestine V. These two cardinals, though, opposed Celestine’s successor, Boniface VIII. At the age of 68, Jacopone was excommunicated and imprisoned. Although he acknowledged his mistake, Jacopone was not absolved and released until Benedict XI became pope five years later. He had accepted his imprisonment as penance. He spent the final three years of his life more spiritual than ever, weeping "because Love is not loved." During this time he wrote the famous Latin hymn, <i>Stabat Mater</i>. </p><p>On Christmas Eve in 1306 Jacopone felt that his end was near. He was in a convent of the Poor Clares with his friend, Blessed John of La Verna. Like Francis, Jacopone welcomed "Sister Death" with one of his favorite songs. It is said that he finished the song and died as the priest intoned the Gloria from the midnight Mass at Christmas. From the time of his death, Brother Jacopone has been venerated as a saint.</p> American Catholic Blog By immersing our lives in the rhythm of the season, charity can flood our souls and fill us with the happiness for which we were created. We awake Christmas morning prepared to celebrate the birth of our Savior not as a memory but as a profound experience of God’s redemptive love.

 
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