Monday, March 11, 2024

Rebuttal of a Hateful Article: The False Christ of The Chosen

Dear Readers, If there are any readers out there...I came back because I am so passionate about the Gospel. I don't understand why there are so many who call themselves Catholic who wish to divide us. Some Catholics are not Catholic enough for them. Some Catholics are too Catholic for them. We can't watch or use anything not made or produced by Catholic sources approved by them. Case in point, a woman who calls herself Catholic, a blogger who, because she got an article printed in an extremist "Catholic" magazine, is now the arbiter of what we can and cannot show in our parish. I will not dignify her article by giving it more of an audience. I just have to say that I am disappointed and shocked at her hubris. Let me start with speaking about art and religion. There has been a great push in the Catholic Church and Catholic religious education to teach about the great art in the Catholic Church; to bring art back into the consciousness of the masses (no pun intended). I have seen several Cathedrals in Europe: Notre Dame, Cologne, Aachen, St. Peter's, just to name a few. Beautiful, beautiful art created by man to honor God. Have you really taken a good look at some of the art work? Did you notice Michaelango's David is not circumcised and looks very much like a Greek God? Have you noticed that Jesus and disciples are neither dressed correctly nor is the furnishing correctly depicted in Leonardo Da Vinci's painting of the Last Supper? (yet, it is the scene most people "imagine" the Last Supper to look like). I could bring up many art pieces that are not historically accurate, including many depictions of Mary Magdalene as a prostitute. This tradition developed over time and is nowhere found in the Gospel accounts. My point is that traditional art is not always historically or gospelly accurate. Film after all is art. I would like to ask, did the woman who so scathingly wrote about The Chosen watch The Passion of the Christ? Because, although it was written and directed by a Catholic (a very publicly adulterous and abusive Catholic) it did not depend on the Gospel accounts of Jesus. Mel Gibson used the visions of Anne Catherine Emmerich and exaggerated many scenes, including the scourging at the pillar for dramatic purposes. I guess that's okay because it was a Catholic. Because Dallas Jenkins is not Catholic, The Chosen is automatically suspect to many, many so-called Catholic critics. I say that all movies and shows about the Gospels or any Bible stories for that matter are suspect. Unless you watch some that are just narrations of the Gospels right off the pages (the ones I have seen available on YouTube are NOT from the Catholic Bible) then someone like her could not possibly give it a chance. She admitted in the article that SHE DID NOT VIEW The Chosen--so what makes her an authority on whether the show is in line with Catholic teaching. I am more inclined to believe the priests who have reviewed it (Upon Frior Review) after watching it than a raving extremist who has not even seen it. Here are a few answers to some of her half-truths and accusations. Accusation: "Wildly popular soap opera created by Mormons and Protestants who admit that it is a fictionalized Gospel with fictionalized characters. Answer: 1) I don't think she has ever watched soap operas if she thinks this is soap. 2) Two Mormon brothers founded Angel studios which crowd funded the production of The Chosen. It was not financed by the Mormon Church. And? 3) Dallas Jenkins is a protestant. He has however met the pope and, seems to me anyway, very close to Catholicism, just as C.S. Lewis was. 4) They did not admit to a fictionalized Gospel. What they have stated is that certain conversations and people are fictionalized. An example would be Quintus, the Praeter of Galilee--we know very little of the Roman government of Galilee. And? Adding a character to the dramatization of the Gospel isn't a "fictionalized Gospel." 5) As stated in point 4, there are some fictionalized characters. And? If they they used only the named characters in the Bible, they could not dramatize the Gospel and make it real. Accusation: "The show has infiltrated the imaginations of countless Catholics, many of whom should know better." Answer: You're right. How dare we use our imaginations? God gave us imaginations but we should not ever use it while contemplating the Gospel. God gave us senses and talent. We should never use it to make art and to see Christ as a real human being with a personality, nor acting in compassion, patience, and mercy. Never. (To be clear as Nathaniel is in The Chosen, I am being sarcastic). Accusation: "the buzz among Catholic influencers, friends, families, parishes, and schools is growing." Answer: I would agree with that until now. This vitriolic article has single-handedly hurt a very sincere, loving Catholic volunteer in my parish. This hateful article has swept through our parish and is dividing it. It reminds me so much of the trauma of the Protestant Church in which I grew up which actually, literally did divide because of something just as TRIVIAL. They fought over, of all things, whether the pastor's wife should work outside the home. She was a kindergarten teacher! She worked so they could send their children to the Christian school she worked for. But the young 20-something youth group director, fresh out of school, had to make it known that the pastor's wife should stay home and take care of the family from there. When she refused to quit and her husband supported her (mostly because he was barely paid enough for them to live on), the youth director and many of his followers left our church. It was horrible and traumatic. I am now getting flashbacks because of this horrible, horrible article circulating through our parish. Accusation: "From this massive commercial enterprise emerges copious merch to be bought" Answer: 1) The "merch" is funding the next episodes of The Chosen. 2) Has she ever gone to a Catholic Women's Conference or a diocesan discipleship Conference? If you have bought "merch" there--you are DOING THE SAME EXACT THING. Merch is merch. If it is spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ IT IS A GOOD THING!!! Accusation: "...get the specifics of heresy and blasphemy, an overview of Catholic principles and Christology violated, and the general modernism and anti-Catholicism that pervades the show and the set." Answer: 1) I did not go to her blog nor her conversations about heresy and blasphemy, just as she DID NOT WATCH THE CHOSEN! 2) Does my degree in Catholic Theology count? Does my opinion matter? I have seen no heresy in this series. Liberties taken? yes. Heresy, no. 4) I have seen no anti-Catholicism. I am not blind. I am a convert and have studied the Faith for over 25 years. I do believe I can detect anti-Catholicism when it is present. I have yet to see any in The Chosen. Dallas Jenkins, the producer and director works with a team which includes people of different Christian denominations, to write the scripts. They do their best to follow the Gospels to the best of their ability. No one claims to be infallible on this project, nor have they claimed that this is THE Gospel. 5) Again, it is a work of art. Accurate or inaccurate in this one woman's eyes though it may be. If I disagree with her misinformation, does that make me a heretic, or my opinion of The Chosen less valuable than her opinion? Accusation: "creator Dallas Jenkins promises a “very, very emotional” upcoming season" Answer: IF you are NOT emotional about the Gospel--and I am very passionate about it and defend it almost daily--what are you doing even calling yourself a Christian, let alone a Catholic? The Gospels are emotional!! The Gospels are hard!!! The Gospel is Jesus and is passionate and emotional!!!! If you do not feel any emotion reading the Gospel, I believe there is something wrong with your heart and your soul! And, yes, I look forward to the very, very emotional show. I cry every episode, every time I watch it. It is emotional because the Gospel is emotional-at least it is for me and I am not ashamed to say so. Accusation: “Sure, the show is not perfect! But despite the problems, The Chosen is bringing countless souls closer to Christ!” The question then becomes: Which Christ?" Answer: The Gospel IS being seen by prisoners who have never been exposed to it, by people in countries who have never heard the Gospel--ever. It is bringing souls to Christ--THE Christ. There is only one Christ. It is HOGWASH that the Christ of The Chosen is a False Christ. I don't believe the Christ of the King James Bible is any less or any different than the Christ in the NAB. They are the same--one and only--Christ. The Chosen is art and in this art is a portrait of Jesus Christ. If you have a problem with this Christ, you must have a problem with all art dipicting Christ in any way! Because all depictions of Him, by default are problematic. We see Jesus depicted in medieaval and renaissance garb, without a beard, portrayed in marble, oils, stained glass. Art is art. If you accept Christ in any art form, you are accepting Him with problems. Yes, I am in the "the chosen is bringing countless souls to Christ" camp! Admittedly. I do believe that anything like this that brings Jesus Christ to the world is a GOOD THING. This hateful, strident pharisaic Catholic will not convince me otherwise. Unfortunately, because her words are in print, she has convinced loving, beautiful Christians that they are heretical and sinful. SHAME ON YOU!!! I won't even dignify her ridiculous iconic grandma story example to the level of an actual argument. It is fallacious to say the least. Her story about other people talking about her grandma nonsense has nothing whatsoever to do with art, which is what film (television) is. And, I certainly don't put stories about my grandmother on the same level as the Gospel. If The Chosen, which she has not even watched, is somehow shaking her stiff, unyielding, stained glass version of the Gospel, I think there is something wrong with her Gospel, it does not affect THE Gospel. Accusation: "Still, good Catholics who love The Chosen believe that they can safely guide their loved ones through the “bad” parts and undo the faulty images seared into their imaginations; however, there are not enough well-catechized Catholics to astutely handle [it]" Answer: However, there are many, many, many, many, many good, well-catechized Catholics that can and have used The Chosen as a starting point for discussions. In fact the lady that your article caused gossip about in my parish, would turn the discussion of each and every episode into a discussion about the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist. We did not talk about "bad parts" vs. "good parts" but discussed the Gospel and pointedly steered every discussion to Christ. I don't want to go further because it would make this blog entry very much longer, except to make one more point. There is no "this Jesus" and the "Catholic Jesus". There is one Jesus. The portrayal of Jesus in The Chosen is a human, kind but strong, patient yet demanding, and it is, as I have said a form of art. It is art on the same level as paintings, statues, and the like, all of which have their faults. It is the Jesus of the artist who took his art from the Gospel. I do not see anything wrong with watching it, discussing it, or using it as a catechetical tool (not by itself, of course!) It has helped make the pages of the Gospel real to millions upon millions who have never cracked open a Bible. I have no problem with it and I don't believe that woman's opinion is any more significant than mine--she just had hers printed in a reactionary, strident "Catholic" magazine. Shame on her for making people feel bad about loving the Gospel in this form of art!

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