A Successful Jesuit Theatrical Mission

F. Tupper Saussy:

MovieTheatre gobeirne“The quality of entertainment’s content was decreed in a section of Inter mirifica encouraging ‘the chronicling, the description or the representation of moral evil [which] can, with the help of the means of social communication and with suitable dramatization, lead to a deeper knowledge and analysis of man and to a manifestation of the true and the good in all their splendor.’  Emboldened by this papal decree, social communicators since 1965 have pushed the constitutional guarantees of ‘free speech’ to the limit by chronicling, describing, and representing moral evil with such progressively vivid, repulsive, prurient, yet often appealing detail that entertainment has become, in the opinion of many, a veritable technological ‘how to’ of moral evil.  It clearly does not lead audiences to a deeper appreciation of Holy Scripture.  This fact identifies entertainment today as a successful Jesuit theatrical mission.”

~Rulers of Evil: Useful Knowledge About Governing Bodies, Chapter 9

8 thoughts on “A Successful Jesuit Theatrical Mission”

  1. Meg, there is so much that could be said about this agenda of the theatrical arts but it’s not for me to say.
    * SPOILER *
    A few years ago we read this book. It is fascinating and thought-provoking but ends on a questionable note that some might call hyperbole; this shocked and bothered me.
    Have you finished reading it?

    1. Yes, I have. I don’t agree with everything he says (especially toward the end) but I thought I should re-read it since I haven’t read it in years. I’m still mulling over acting in general since historically, Christians were against it.

      1. Meg, glad you’ve read it all – perhaps I should reread it; with what I’ve learned since then it would probably be a learning experience all over again.

        Acting? I know someone who had an undergrad degree from a Jesuit university – he studied for an m.a. in theology at another Catholic university but went on to be an itinerant storyteller/showman. This is interesting, Meg – don’t you think? He was bright, articulate, and charming.

        About theater – we get so caught up in what we see that is merely fictional. I just don’t know. As you study and think maybe you can post more about what you learn.

        Thank you for what you’ve done here – and in all your work!

      2. The Puritans’ Home School Curriculum has a course centered around the book…. I should look into it again and remind myself what it says.

        I have read some of what earlier Christians said about the theater. My difficulty is that many of the arguments they made don’t seem to hold up in a modern context. For instance, one is that the company you would be with is bad; But that doesn’t address a situation where you’d be at home watching a movie with family members.

        That said, I am still pondering what the Puritans’ Network guy wrote about playing at evil, because I think acting does affect the actors, even if what you see on screen isn’t how it looked while being filmed.

        In any case, I have too little time to read and research but I shall see what I come up with!

        Thanks for your always-encouraging comments!

      3. Yeah, Heath Ledger is a good example. A lot of Hollywood stars seem to be in need of counseling, etc. I used to do a lot of acting when I was younger. It wasn’t bad when playing a good guy, but as I played more not-so-good people, I began to wonder about its influence. But it is an issue for me to ponder more…. and if I concluded that acting was out, that would be a big issue for some of my close family members!

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