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Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

So much happening!

It's hard to pick one thing to write about, so I'm going to cover it all :)

In politics ... wow, indictments against not just Manafort but George Papadopoulos as well. Here's Rachel Maddow on this ...



And did you see that General Kelly, the guy we thought would be the voice of reason in the White House, opined that fighting the Civil War was a mistake? ...

The Civil War Was Not a Mistake

When White House Chief of Staff John Kelly told the Fox News host Laura Ingraham that the Civil War was caused by the “lack of an ability to compromise,” that the war was fought by “men and women of good faith on both sides,” and that Confederate General Robert E. Lee “was an honorable man,” he was invoking a rosy view of the Confederacy echoing that of his boss.

Kelly was also reflecting a popular perception of the war that has persisted for decades, largely on the strength and influence of an organized pro-Confederate propaganda campaign that has been conducted for a century. While the scholarly consensus is that the Civil War was about slavery, popular opinion has not entirely caught up ...


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Happy Reformation Day. One of the reasons Luther did what he did was that he Catholic had been selling indulgences, a practice which promised that sinful people could get time off from purgatory after death in exchange for money. It's a creepy idea: first of all, there's no biblical back-up for the existence of purgatory, and second, there's no reason to believe the church had the power to get people time off in exchange for cash even if purgatory did exist. Even creepier is that the church still grants indulgences, but now instead of paying for them with cash, people must pay for them by doing certain approved things like passing through Jubalee doors. Most of those at Vatican II thought the idea of purgatory and indulgences was just wrong.

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Finally, happy Halloween. I must admit I hate Halloween. For someone as shy as I am, it's really stressful to have strangers constantly coming to the door. But having said that, I do kind of like scary movies, especially those with a religious theme. Here below are ten of them that I've seen in the past that may be worth renting on this scary night ...

- The Rite. Rated PG-13 and released in 2011, it stars Anthony Hopkins, Colin O'Donoghue (Captain Hook!), and Ciarán Hinds. The film is based on Matt Baglio's book, The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist. O'Donoghue portrays a young American seminary student, Michael Kovak, who travels to Rome to study exorcism at the Vatican before deciding whether to become a priest. Once there, he meets the resident expert in exorcism, a Jesuit named Fr. Lucas (Hopkins), who eventually becomes possessed by a demon himself. Kovak must find the faith he doubts he has in order to save Lucas. Roger Ebert gave it three stars ...



- Frailty. Rated R and released in 2001, it stars Bill Paxton, Matthew McConaughey, and Powers Boothe. The story is about a man who believes he's been instructed by an angle to kill a number of demons who are disguised as normal people. He captures these people and brings them home, enlisting the help of his two young sons, and killing his victims with an axe. Roger Ebert gave it four stars ...



- Fallen. Rated R and released in 1998, this film stars Denzel Washington, John Goodman, and Donald Sutherland. Washington portrays a Philadelphia Police Detective, John Hobbes, who's investigating a string of murders with a demonic theme. Clues lead him to a woman who confides that the murders are being committed by people possessed by a fallen angel. As Hobbes closes in on the demon, the people closest to him become possessed by it, and he is eventually forced to incriminate himself for the killings. Roger Ebert gave it two and a half stars ...



- Constantine. Rated R and released in 2005, it stars Keanu Reeves, Rachel Weisz, and Tilda Swinton. Based on Hellblazer, a graphic novel/comic book, the film revolves around John Constantine (Reeves), a psychic and exorcist. Constantine helps people who are possessed in hopes that he can buy his way into heaven with good deeds, after having tried in the past to kill himself. While investigating the death of woman who has committed suicide, he discovers an ongoing wager between God and Lucifer for dominion of the Earth, and that this wager is being circumvented by Lucifer's son. The religious stuff is unreliable, but the film does include some interesting occult artifacts like the Spear of Destiny, the lance that was said to have pierced Jesus on the cross. Roger Ebert gave it one and a half stars ....



- The Order. Rated R and released in 2003, the film stars Heath Ledger, Shannyn Sossamon, and Peter Weller. Ledger plays an American Catholic priest, Fr. Alex Bernier, who belongs to a (fictitious) religious order whose superior has mysteriously died. Bernier travels to Rome to investigate the death and discovers within the Vatican a Cardinal who's secretly a sin-eater. Sin-eating, a practice by which one person consumes the sins of another person, is considered by the church to be heretical magic and Bernier faces multiple dangers, including demons, in trying to bring the truth to light ...



- The Seventh Sign. Rated R and released in 1988, the film stars Demi Moore, Michael Biehn, and Jürgen Prochnow of Das Boot fame. The plot involves a pregnant woman (Moore) discovering that Jesus (Prochnow) has returned to break the seven seals, those mentioned in the Book of Revelation, thus causing the the end of the world, the apocalypse. With the help of a young Jewish scholar, she tries to change Jesus' mind, but she's constantly impeded by a mysterious Catholic priest. Roger Ebert gave it just two stars ...



- The Rapture. Released in 1991 and rated R, the movie stars David Duchovny, Mimi Rogers, and Patrick Bauchau. The story tells of a telephone operator, Sharon, who leaves her life as an after-hours swinger to become a born-again Christian, marrying and having a daughter. When things begin to go very wrong in her life, she questions her faith and goes into the desert with her daughter to await the Rapture, the end time when the chosen ascend to heaven. They wait and writ but nothing happens, and in despair, Sharon makes a terrible decision that seals her fate. Roger Ebert gave it four stars ...



- Night of the Demon (Curse of the Demon). Unrated and released in 1957, the film stars Dana Andrews and was produced in the United Kingdom. The plot was adapted from a short story by M.R. James, Casting the Runes, and tells of an American psychologist, Dr. John Holden, who travels to England to attend a convention and meet a friend there. Holden finds his friend has been mysteriously killed and suspects the killing was accomplished with the use of magic, as his friend had been investigating satanic cults. Holden eventually learns of the existence of a parchment with a magic rune upon it that, when surreptitiously given to someone, calls up a demon to kill them. This one has a cat named Grimalkin in it :) ...



- Stigmata. Rated R and released in 1999, it stars Patricia Arquette and Gabriel Byrne. Byrne portrays Fr. Kiernan, a Vatican postulator, a priest who investigates miracles. He meets Arquete’s character when she shows evidence of having the stimata, marks on her body like those of the crucified Jesus. Behind all this they discover a mysterious gospel that the Catholic church has been keeping under wraps, afraid it would destroy the church The sayings in this mystery gospel, such as “Split a piece of wood; I am there. Lift up the stone, and you will find me there” seem to come, in part, from the real-life non-canonical gospel of Thomas. Roger Ebert gave it two stars ...



- The Prophecy. Rated R and released in 1995, it stars Christopher Walken, Viggo Mortensen, and Virginia Madsen. The plot describes a civil war between Heacen's angels, as described in the Book of Revelation. Walkien portrays the archangel Gabriel, who's searching for a particularly bad soul located on Earth, but who comes into conflict with other angels and a police detective who had once trained to be a Catholic priest. Though the movie received poor reviews, it later became a cult classic and spawned a number of sequels. Especially spooky - Viggo as Lucifer ...


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