FR. JUSTIN BELITZ TESTIMONIALS

Several articles from personal blogs have appeared online regarding Fr. Justin Belitz, O.F.M. These articles ultimately represent social media being used and abused as yet another demonstration of someone judging from the outside looking in, seeing only slivers, hearing only soundbytes, coming to blatantly erroneous conclusions, and portraying Fr. Belitz as a caricature. It is nothing less than crass stereotyping and echoes the words to the old song: “I don’t like what I don’t understand and it scares me half to death.”

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I am an Indianapolis native and former member of Friar Justin’s Hermitage (Former only because I moved out of state).  I met Fr. Justin through  the late Fr. Hilary Ottensmeyer, a Benedictine priest, who happened to be the former director of St. Meinrad’s. I met Fr. Hilary at an art gallery showing  (the 431 galley) in the late 1980s.  At that time, I was a self-proclaimed atheist.

Having grown up in an abusive, evangelical church setting, I had mantled a lot of anger. Hilary and I became good friends, having countless discussions on art history, film, philosophy, and music. He even counseled me through a divorce. Slowly and astutely,  I became aware that there was indeed an artistic, intellectual side to the religious life; one that did not require me to dumb down.

Continue reading “FR. JUSTIN BELITZ TESTIMONIALS”

RELIGULOUS (2008)

RELIGULOUS poster

When Bill Maher’s Religulous (2008) premiered, it predictably opened to mixed reviews. Narrated by Maher and directed by Larry Charles, Religulous is a scathing criticism on what the filmmakers see as inherent ignorance and immorality within religion.

ISLAMIC MILITANTS

Critic Brian Orndoff wrote:

Most of the ammo is reserved for Christianity. Instead of confrontations that shatter myths and raise consciousness, Religulous goes for cheap laughs, manipulating footage to make the participants resemble complete boobs. Maher has the sense to pump the brakes around Islam, treading carefully. Salient points are made about this furiously hot-potato faith, but Maher is noticeably outgunned, challenging the history of Islamic bloodshed from behind the comfort of news clips and sheepish concessions. The way the Middle East rumbles these days, how could anyone blame him?

SALEM WITCH TRIALS

Indeed, the first third of Religulous concentrates solely on Christianity. However, Maher, who wrote the film, was raised as an American Catholic, though with a Jewish heritage. Often, writing is most effective when it focuses on what one knows, and Maher seems to know Christianity. Yet, what he primarily depicts is a particular variety of fundamentalist Christianity. While polls vary in regards to the percentages of American “liturgical” Christians in contrast to “fundamentalist” Christians, few would argue that the latter comprise the bulk of stereotypes of the faith. Continue reading “RELIGULOUS (2008)”

THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD (1965)

“The most bi-polar epic ever made” would be more apt.

TGSET

Big budget Hollywood Bible blockbusters are a category that can put shame to the campiest excursions found in low budget horror and sci fi pics. The king of sword, sandal, and sacred cleavage (male and female) was undoubtedly Cecil B. DeMille. Like many patriarchal types, DeMille was, by most accounts, a mean-spirited, obsessive controlling showman, who aggressively pushed his propaganda in some of the greatest howlers ever committed to celluloid. The trademark DeMille camp was intact from the beginning, with his silent King of Kings (1927) gifting us some of the most jaw-dropping intertitles in cinematic history. Mary Magdalene, in jewel studded bra, on the way to meet her lover Judas, mounts her chariot and barks the command: “Nubian slave, harness my zebras!” Still, even DeMille was ecumenical enough to place blame for Jesus’ death on the religious leaders, as opposed to Mel “I hate other religions” Gibson’s medievalism of condemning an entire race of people. DeMille was at his most seductive in Sign of the Cross (1932), a sexy romp about first century Christians starring Charles Laughton as a leering Nero and the slinky Claudette Colbert taking a pre-code bath in goat’s milk. As usual, the sinners are more interesting than the hopeless saints. Continue reading “THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD (1965)”

CHRISTIAN THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY: FORMING PRODIGALS IN THE NAME OF FAITH

With astounding astuteness, a professor once critiqued the Roman Catholic hierarchy as frequently and fatally mantling the attitude that it is above both criticism and self-criticism. In my previous post regarding my grad school, Christian Theological Seminary, I proposed the possibility that the school’s board of trustees, along with its president, Matthew Myer Boulton, were, in some ways, perhaps modeling that aspect of the Roman Catholic hierarchy. It seems I  have erred in the usage of that perhaps. https://alfredeaker.wordpress.com/2014/04/21/matthew-myer-boulton-sounding-the-death-knoll-for-indianas-progressive-seminary-christian-theological-seminary-2/

CTS BANNER FULL

CTS banner slogan has long been Forming Tomorrow’s Leaders In Faith.  I believe CTS may need to hit the refresh button in order to view and review the not-so-improved Forming Prodigals In The Name Of Faith. The late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen proved himself a rarity of  shrewd, reflective self-criticism in the Catholic hierarchy when he proposed: “often, we have prodigals due to our own negligence. We have pushed them out the door with our carelessness, recklessness, thoughtlessness, and abuses.”

PRODIGAL SON REMBRANDT

Paradoxically, CTS, its trustees, Boulton, et al. are proving themselves the worst kind of parents imaginable. The fault is not entirely theirs, however. We prodigals err as well in having continued to look to them as trustworthy parents and make no mistake, we are the children of CTS.

groucho marx

Over the weekend, a fellow alumni let me know they had been booted out of and blocked from CTS’ Facebook group for alumni. Yes, I was too, which I half expected after my blog post ( I will add that I was barely tactful enough not to post on their group page). Still, for me, I rather identify a tad too readily with Groucho Marx’ statement: “I am leery of any club that would have me for a member, anyway.” Besides, it is merely Facebook. However, after dialoguing with said alumni, I did see another point; the latent (or not so latent) message delivered by the current CTS admin,”You are no longer ours.” I do not know what that alumni said to them, or said about them (I know what I said, of course), but he/she believed it an attempt, on their part, at status quo taming. Astute observations on the alumni’s part? Additionally, I should add that said alumni was prone to critique and challenge while expressing his/her love for and belief in CTS. Of course, this does not matter. The school only wants docile children, shorn of edge. Continue reading “CHRISTIAN THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY: FORMING PRODIGALS IN THE NAME OF FAITH”

The Annunciation, Stations of the Cross, Pieta.

The Annunciation, Stations of the Cross, Pieta. In The Mary Myth, Andrew Greely writes, ” The Marian symbol is surely one of the most powerful symbols in the Western Tradition. Virtually every major painter from the fifth to the sixteenth century painted at least one Madonna. The Marian paintings and poetry tell us far more about the power and meaning of the Madonna than theology books could possibly portray.  Art is much better at conveying limit-experience than scholarly theology.” [1] Last year, at the beginning of seminary, I began a series of works on canvas, entitled Stations to parallel my … Continue reading The Annunciation, Stations of the Cross, Pieta.