Don’t Give Up Anything For Lent!

Longtime viewers might be having deja vu. Five years ago, I produced a video with the exact same title and exact same message. Sort of.

For new viewers, I hope this lesson is a helpful one for the season: don’t give up anything for lent; give up something for life. 

What if you had the power of God?

If you had the power of God, what would you do? It’s a question that we rarely ask ourselves because, well, it’s not a very practical question. And yet, after watching the movie Bruce Almighty in which Jim Carey’s character is given this very opportunity, Fr. Patrick and I were forced to wonder.

Overall, the movie is more of a cautionary tale of acting without thinking, and there’s actually a few lessons to be learned. While we will never be God in Godself, we do have the ability to work with God to bring about the Kingdom, and our actions can have significant consequences.

Click here to listen
Click here to listen

Some stories are just too iconic to tell only once. So the Coen brothers thought when they wrote O Brother, Where Art Thou, an adaptation of the Greek epic The Odyssey. The classic story was too big to remain only in ancient Greece. It deserved a modern equivalent.

But simply transposing the story into a new setting wasn’t good enough. This is cheap adaptation. No, the Coen brothers understood that stories need to grow, adapt, evolve, an even change. They can begin with the source material, but unless something is added, it will not be a story that speaks to its time.

And so, that’s exactly what they did. Using the structure of The Odyssey and transposing it to the 1930s south, they began with something familiar in order to tell a new story.

Believe it or not, I am told quite often that I am wasting my life as a Franciscan priest. Seeing all that I have to give up, all that I’m missing, religious and non-religious alike find it troubling. In this video, I do my best to respond to this idea, telling the world what I knew even before I joined: this is the best life I could imagine.

Click here to listen
Click here to listen

In today’s world, it is safer for the movie business to create a sequel than to attempt an original idea. Why risk making something that people won’t like when you could just recycle something that you know they do? If you ask me, it’s created a very predictable (and underwhelming) movie-going experience over the past decade or so.

A major exception to this trend is director Christopher Nolan. I remember going to the movies in 2010 to see Inception and just being blown away. I had never seen anything like it before. It was imaginative, daring, challenging, and absolutely mesmerizing. It was the sort of movie that reminded you why you went to the theatre in the first place: to be awe-inspired. I remember driving home that day thinking, “Now that’s a movie that gives me faith in the movie industry again.”

Over the past 11 years, Nolan has continued to blow viewers away with over-the-top spectacles and stories that melt your brain with complexity, and for the most part they have been worth their enormous budgets. I never leave thinking, “Well that was pretty predictable” or “yeah, seen that done before.” Everything is original. Everything pushes the limits of cinema in ways you couldn’t even have imagined.

It’s with that that Fr. Tito and I approached his newest movie, Tenet. Basically, with high expectations. No one makes a movie quite like Nolan. In many ways, we were not disappointed: it was the most “Nolan” movie we had ever seen, complete with some of Nolan’s biggest flaws on display.