Fr. Bloomfield's Blog

I am a Roman Catholic Priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit, currently assigned to Divine Child Parish in Dearborn, Michigan. When I manage to keep the page updated, hopefully something interesting can be found here!

Monday, November 26, 2007

November 25, 2007

I hope that everyone had a blessed and happy Thanksgiving Day; it is always a blessing to be able to spend time with friends and family in giving thanks for the many gifts God has given to us. This Sunday is also the Feast of Christ the King, the last Sunday of the Liturgical Year. By celebrating this day, we “summarize” our entire year (and indeed all our lives) under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, King of Kings and Lord of Lords. As our King, the Lord Jesus asks for all our hearts, minds, and souls. He is, however, the most generous and benevolent of Kings who has given up His own life for our sake; by turning our lives over to Him, we actually gain freedom, peace, and joy. We live in the truth of who were have been created to be: sons and daughters of the Most High and Triune God, Who is Love itself.

Considering this (and praying to St. Andrew whose feast-day we celebrate on November 30th!) as we prepare for the First Sunday of Advent next week, I would like to return to my commentary on The Golden Compass. It’s often very easy to either criticize a work of fiction without seeing its merits, or simply fire away at modern American culture because we seem so distant from God. What is more difficult, however, is to really engage the culture with the confidence that Christ’s Kingdom will really be victorious.

That is, we know that we have the truth on our side, but often present it with a grim or defeated approach. Or sometimes, we are afraid to allow the truth to be splendid but gentle at the same time. And sometimes, we just simply don’t know what the Church teaches. Therefore, we really need to educate ourselves first and foremost, and then make choices that coincide with this formation. Sometimes it will mean not seeing a movie “everyone is seeing” or sometimes it may mean not continuing a magazine subscription or particular cable channel. Each of these choices has as its foundation the decision to follow Christ as our King.

In the case of The Golden Compass, we cannot be afraid of the ideas Pullman presents, but on the contrary must form our minds to defend the truth of Christianity. Personally, I cannot see the value in supporting such a movie or novel, particularly because the author has even stated publicly in interviews that he is “trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief” (cf. Denis Grasska in The Michigan Catholic, 9 Nov 2007, p. 22). Nevertheless, we should be able to address these ideas in conversation and present thoughtful responses to these claims. Educating our children, in particular, must be a constant priority – not only in what the Church teaches, but why. The Church’s teachings are not arbitrary but founded on truth.

The Catechism is an excellent place to begin; even if we find it a little confusing or tough to understand at times, it provides the perfect foundation for our Faith. This “intellectual” formation is an essential way to keep Christ as the King of our lives and culture, and also to not fear when certain ideas may challenge the Church. Christ is the most powerful, and yet gentlest of Sovereigns. His Love provides the foundation for our lives; may we keep Christ the King of our lives and hearts every day – by how we pray, how we think, and work, and play, and most importantly, how we love. God bless you all!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Yes, I'm Back... For Novemeber 18, 2007

I am certain that without some prompting, it will seem strange to finally return to publishing these articles, but I am finally settled in here at Divine Child, and promise to post these items since I write them every week for our bulletin. Particularly important is the concern surrounding Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass, so please enjoy.

The secular “Holiday Season” is really upon us in full swing: Thanksgiving comes early this year, the college football season is nearly over, and Christmas advertisements and sales are already overwhelming us. And although Thanksgiving is this Thursday, and presents a wonderful opportunity for us to reflect on God’s goodness and the bounty we have received, another important issue is before us. The feasts of the Presentation and St. Cecilia will have to wait!

Christmastime, apart from the shopping and such, has also recently been a time for new movie releases. In particular, I enjoyed waiting for the next Lord of the Rings movie release, or The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and also The Nativity Story. Unfortunately, one of this year’s “holiday releases” has all the appearances of being an uplifting and positive spiritual story, but in reality it has the potential to undermine our Faith.

Ever since the Harry Potter controversy, however, I have been wary about blanket condemnations of books or movies. I enjoyed reading the Harry Potter series, but felt conversations (not just about magic, but about many different choices) between parents and children would help balance the books and develop their potential to promote authentic heroism, truth-seeking, and self-sacrifice.

Therefore, when I heard about Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass, I wondered if the concern might be overworked and decided to read the book for myself. Unfortunately, however, the well-written story cleverly hides a dangerous agenda that seeks to cast doubt about the existence of God and the role of the Church in our life. Obviously, I have not seen the movie which will be released on December 7, but having read the first book (this also being a trilogy) widespread concern is well-founded.

The Golden Compass is the first of three books telling the tale of Lyra Belacqua, a young girl, and her adventures in a world very similar to our own; throughout the book, however, the Church is depicted as an agency of deceit, cunning, and arbitrary authoritarian power. The “Magisterium” and “Church” of the novel are evil and destructive, harming children for their own selfish ends and having little regard for the truth.

Most troubling, however, is the easy way in which Pullman uses these familiar concepts – and even Scripture quotations – while changing their meaning and using them to instill doubt and fear with regard to sin, grace, the Church, priests, and even free will. The philosophical presuppositions of the book rely on using these concepts to undermine God’s free gift of Grace through Jesus Christ and instead replace them with a “naturalistic” approach that will attempt to even prove that God does not exist.

I will continue my reflections on the movie and book in next week’s article, but rather than being afraid of these things, we must be willing to study and defend our Faith. Have a blessed and holy Thanksgiving Day, giving thanks to our Lord for all the many blessings in our lives.