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Saturday, January 14, 2012

A Jesuit in The Mission ...

Jeremy Irons now plays a pope ....

This week's DVD rental was the first few episodes of the 2011 tv series The Borgias. As Wikipedia notes ....

The series is based on the Borgia family, an Italian dynasty of Spanish origin, and stars Jeremy Irons as Pope Alexander VI with Fran├žois Arnaud as Cesare, Holliday Grainger as Lucrezia, David Oakes as Juan and Aidan Alexander as Gioffre Borgia, respectively. Derek Jacobi and Colm Feore also star as Cardinals Orsini and della Rovere (the future Pope Julius II.

The series takes place during an interesting period, with rival powerful families and conflicts between Italy and France (see Prince of Foxes). The scary Dominican preacher Girolamo Savonarola (bonfire of the vanities) lived at the time too and was burned as a heretic by order of the Borgia pope.

Despite this, I don't know if I'll watch the rest of the series. It's just depressing to see the accepted level of corruption that was so pervasive in the church at this time, with Rodrigo Borgia/Pope Alexander VI leading the pack in that corruption .... as a churchman he had mistresses and children (and pretty awful children :), he bribed and threatened his way into the papacy, and he continued his rotten behavior in multitudinous ways while pope. The story of the Borgias is one of power, wealth, and the frailty of human nature ... all it would take to keep me interested in the story would be one person about whom I could care, but I haven't seen such a person yet.


Blogger Fran said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4:03 AM  
Blogger Fran said...

Hi Crystal, I have to tell you that I watched this when it was on the air and I loved it. I look forward to the next season. I know lots of people who did not like it - but I did.

(sorry, had to re-do comment, i hit enter too soon.)

In any case - yes, it was depressing and it is depressing. For me however, I see all of this as a sign of great hope - that so many of God's people - all of us who gather on many of these blogs as well as those I encounter in real life, are essentially good.

The corruption was so much worse then, truth be told. But here we still are. For me, it is a sign of hope.

But hey, that's just me.

Go watch the rest and remember - while based on truth, it is still theatre.

Be well Crystal!

4:06 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Fran,

Thanks for the comment :)

I do like Jeremy Irons, and the sets and costumes are good. I was hoping for some good guy I could identify with, but I've only seen the first episode - maybe that character just hasn't shown up yet?

I think a lot of Catholics are encouraged by the way the church has endured even with some pretty bad people at the helm. Maybe it's unrealistic to wish the church hierarchy to be really good examples. I think part of why I'm like this is not growing up in a church - I always had the idea that church leaders were exceptionally good, or at least always trying very hard to be so. Kind of disappointing to find out they're just regular people like the rest of us ;)

1:46 PM  
Blogger Mike L said...

You hit the nail right on the head, Crystal. I also think that church leaders should be held to a higher standard than the average person, but I think the same thing about politicians, and am often disappointed. I guess what bothers me the most is having them tell the congregation not to do something that they are themselves doing. Hypocrisy really frosts me something terrible.

And I am not sure that the corruption was any worse then than it is now, it is just done in a more acceptable or better hidden way.

I cling to my belief that there are some good leaders out there, even if they are overshadowed by the corrupt.


Mike L

3:05 PM  
Blogger Fran said...

Interesting conversation. I am not cynical, but at 54, I am realistic. I do not hold anyone to a higher standard. I don't hold them to a low one either; I just have hope and I try to deal with what comes.

I have been around priests for many years... Some are great, some awful - but most of them human. Jesus was fully human and fully divine. The rest of us, just the first part.

I guess I think that the higher standard just sets us all up for disappointment. Humility is found in what happens in failure, pain and horror and how the person/people/institution respond.

Generally, most of us muck it up. Hopefully, most of us keep at it.

So much philosophical thought from me.... Back to the writing of theology papers for school.

I always wish I had more time to spend her Crystal, you host a wonderfully thought provoking spot. I thank you.

3:45 PM  
Blogger crystal said...


I too do hold church leaders to a higher standard, mostly because they feel they have the moral authority to tell other people how to be good. If they are going to say they have some special ability to discern right from wrong and to criticize the choices of others, then I think they deserve to be held up to scrutiny themselves.

I don't expect that of politicians - they have important jobs but they don't hold themselves up as holier than the average person (usually :)

6:19 PM  
Blogger crystal said...


I know a few priests and they have all been really great people :) Not perfect, of course, but people trying their best to be good and to do the right thing, even if they fail sometimes.

But the guys leading the church seem to me to not have that desire to do the right thing but instead a desire to perpetuate their own power at the cost of honesty and fairness and compassion. I guess I am cynical about the hierarchy, but I think of what Jesus said about the religious authorities of his time - he didn't mince words about the badness of their hypocricy.

Thanks for visiting, Fran. It's always good to talk to you :)

6:33 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Eek - reading over my comments, I sound so jedgemental :( Must work on that character flaw.

6:35 PM  
Blogger Fran said...

Oh Crystal! I did not think you sounded arrogant at all... Now my own words. *cringe* I actually love hearing what you say and always learn something here.

I have given this all a lot of thought and I am a bit stuck on it. Not stuck with what you say, but trying to understand it and to unpack what I think and believe.

I hope I do not continue to sound arrogant or do not seem to be beating a dead horse...

One thing that continues to sit here before me is the use of the phrase "the hierarchy." I guess my perception and understanding as I ponder that is to make many priests, potentially all bishops, all cardinals and the Pope himself, into a single monolithic thing.

Yet I do not think that is what you are saying.

Am I making any sense? (Probably not!) When you say hierarchy, do you mean particular people or just at large?

Feel free to tell me to buzz off! Or you can email me at festinalente07 at gmail dot com!!

5:24 AM  
Blogger crystal said...


Thanks for the email address. No, I don't think you sounded arrogant at all! I just meant about me that I know I do tend to be rigid about some things - my sister reminds me of this regularly :)

Hmmm - when I think of "the hierarchy" I do not mean all priests. I like and respect many priests, and some bishops too, though I don't know any bishops personally.

But when I think of the hierarchy, I think of the leaders of the US Bishops conference and of the guys in Rome who make decisions and give public pronouncements. I don't just dislike them on pricipal because they're leading the church, but because of the public or reported things they've said or published or done that seem wrong to me.

1:32 PM  

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