Monday, August 04, 2008

Brideshead Revisited - Reflections on Roman Catholicism

I went and saw the new movie version of Brideshead Revisited last night and found it fairly good, although not a movie that will leave one feeling bubbly afterwards. Perhaps my idea of the main characters was a influenced by the 1981 mini-series version where Anthony Andrews and Jeremy Irons - yes, I thought they were HOT - played Sebastian and Charles respectively. As cute as Ben Whishaw is, I kept thinking of Andrews. I enjoyed the acting and Matthew Goode as Charles and he was definitely easy on the eyes (he has a whimsical little smile much like my current roommate's).
I will not discuss the story line with any particularity detail for those unfamiliar with the story. However, I will say that what struck me perhaps the most of anything about the movie was the manner in which the Flyte family's Roman Catholicism (at least to me) served as an evil influence on the characters in so many ways. If Evelyn Waugh intended to depict Catholicism in a favorable light in his book, Brideshead Revisited, The Sacred & Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder, the 2008 movie version sends a whole different (and in my view a far more accurate) message. In fact, the image of Catholicism is one that comes across very negatively. In fact, leaving the theater I remarked to a friend that the movie helped reminded me of all the reason I left the Catholic Church.
While the movie storyline ends perhaps 12-15 years before I was born, I identified with much of the pre-Vatican II form of Catholic ritual and life which puts so much emphasis on strict conformity with legalistic rules and regulations - few of which are found in the Bible - and the indoctrination of a constant sense of guilt and unworthiness. It is a faith often devoid of love of any form, either from God except in lip service or from its dour and strict adherents. As I and I suspect many other former Catholics will testify, it's a religion that truly fucks up one's mind and sense any innate value. True, some of the Church's institutions did and continue to do good works assisting the poor and others. But overall, it is not a kind and loving religion and gays are seen as inherently disordered. What perhaps is most frightening to me is that this is exactly the form of Catholicism that Benedict XVI seems Hell bent to restore with all its overpowering guilt, foreboding and cold-hearted aspects.
As I have commented before, I personally cannot see how anyone who is LGBT can remain a Catholic. The emotional and psychological costs are just too high. It's no wonder that Sebastian meets the fate that he does. But, I guess ultimately each of us must decide for ourselvees.

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