Against a backdrop of art, architecture and past history, Father Robert Barron, a protégé of Chicago Cardinal George has compiled a bootlegged style schlock imitation piece of Sir Kenneth Clarke’s Civilisation series but on "religion" - what religion I was unable to decipher.
"Catholicism" is a series of segments of art film, travelogue and incoherent religion lectures that ramble all over creation’s time line and imagination.
BUT - Where is the real Roman Catholicism Father Barron?
I ran into two episodes of Robert Barron’s “Catholicism” on PBS on one of those raising cash on a rainy Sunday afternoon deals and offering a full five DVD set of ten episodes for a $250 tax deductible contribution to the local PBS station.
Media expert Barron’s independent, independent film which has no traceable roots in IMDb (Internet Movie Data base) that I can compare the credentials of people using terms and titles like Director or Cinematographer to see if Cardinal George and or his cronies got their three million dollars worth in this vanguard media vehicle of “the New Evangelism” and or “Getting the old MoJo Nostalgia Thing going for the pre-Vatican II Medieval Church”.
Father Robert Barron is a polished articulate wordsmith but a third rate theologian as any PC theologian in the RCC is these days. Though he wears glasses and a wristwatch, I guess the appearance of intelligibility is allowed on occasion with permission in its certified authorized theologians mixing with the little people through the firewall of the media. Is allowable to a certain extent in the desperate marketing and sale of this “New Evangelism” thing?
Walks like a duck. Sounds like a Duck. It must be the New Evangelism thingy. Frozen concentrated grape juice in a frozen concentrated orange juice container I fear. What’s the difference? Catholicism – one size fits all. Right? One fruit juice is as good as another. Whatever. Enough on tangents.
Three million bucks does not go very far these days even in terms of a non-union made film.
I will say that most of what I have seen could have been shot with stock footage and much of it with scenes of happy heterosexual couples holding hands in the streets and parks and all the running happy children in these parks added to strike a “I want that too” chord in the viewer – the illusion of temporary happiness at least.
Viewing these two propaganda pieces on PBS I wanted to learn something I did not already know about Catholicism. Many of the PBS series I have seen illustrating topics such as Baseball, the Civil War or even Judaism have been informative and thought provoking.
Not once in these two episodes do I once hear what the Roman Catholic Church is all about or what it believes in.
I did watch these two episodes:
“Amazed and Afraid: The Revelation of God Become Man”
“That Than Which Nothing Greater Can Be Thought: The Ineffable Mystery of God”
The first episode is a pile of 10, 15, 30 second sound bites against a backdrop of the all the art of churches, the Sistine Chapel ceiling paint job etc. And while it is sometimes exquisite to encounter a sixteenth century Spanish cathedral alter piece covered in icons and gold, one like me after one too many shots of such decadence and with a Protestant conscience, I am reminded of all the slave labor and ruined lives of millions of enslaved peasants and Indians in South and Central America that went into the creation of this “art”.
It is here where the sound bites and the 90 second and two minute polished homilies struck me of the whole disjointed mess of this propaganda film. That beyond art, the RCC is idolatry and love of the idol – the thing – its own thing. That an ignorant illiterate serf in medieval Europe may have learned his bible stories from the stained glass of the Cathedrals.
I thought I recognized the style of Barron’s polished 90 second and two minute focused homilies which remind me of the finishing punch line statements after many long agonizing boring religion classes I remember in catholic high school. I also feel for his seminary students mucho.
But looking at and listening to Father Barron blather on with so many rambling, disjointed, bunch of little phrases, thoughts, opinions, against the backdrop of medieval art, happy couples in parks etc. that I am reminded of the possibility of some drunken monk in some medieval theology class in a cathedral pointing to a stained glass picture of Noah’s flood and then telling the story of Adam and Eve. Some serfs may have gone to their graves confused on the finer subtle points of that theology lesson etc.
The second episode mentioned continues the rambling sound bites against the backdrop of stock footage. The drunken medieval monk acting gig in the cathedral medieval theology class gets more polished and starts into an alphabet soup of disconnected ideas without any spellable words produced in the consumer’s spoon.
But defining or understanding God is a really big subject and I have heard better explanations of the vastness and mystery of God from Muslims on video tape and filtered through a coarse sieve of translation.
One very disturbing scene in this second episode has Father Barron doing his theology schtick against the backdrop of Auschwitz and rambling about how evil can be done in life etc. How can God let that happen?
He even concedes that the idea that God letting evil happen for a greater good is a tad bit too much for human understanding.
He slips into a story about the old testament story of Job and rambles on a bit. Jumps to a Seurat pointism painting in a museum. And finally ends on a cute story of the American Philosopher William James and his dumb dog who cannot read.
Then he slips back to the Auschwitz scene without an answer to the mystery of God letting the Shoah happen.
No apology for what so many Catholics in the Nazi Party did to the Jews. I guess by episode eight or nine Father Barron will be explaining why God’s intentions at Auschwitz were so obtuse and why it is perfectly clear why the Jew hating(?), Jew/humanity ignoring Pius XII must be made a modern saint according to the
new, modern, retro-Medieval “New Evangelism”
Being the hack seminary teacher and dog trainer that Barron appears to be and in grand favor of his mentor and patron Cardinal George of Chicago, I think that no intelligent person has anything to fear from this waste of three million dollars that disappeared off the ledgers somewhere. No threat I think to any higher order of primates here at least.
This new untried Attention Deficit, all over the map non-map, approach to the heart of Christianity that the RCC has become, much like a millstone tied around the rest of Christianity’s legitimate attempt to follow the simple teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, is sad.
No doubt like Fox News which attributes its high ratings to being the only channel playing in most nursing homes in America, the canned Catholicism DVD treasury will appeal to the long term only memories of the inmates there who hopefully still have control over their estates before they part this earth and leave their wealth to the “New Evangelism” of the Roman Pagan Catholic Church.
No hidden Picasso here. Perhaps though just another encounter with a resurrected Elvis painted on velvet kind of decorative art thingy.
Sir Kenneth – rest in peace. Your reputation on art history remains safely intact.
Have a good day.