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May 27, 2008



That'll be something for you to treasure in your heart, like Mary, and look forward to seeing what happens.

Father M. sounds a little like Father Ralph from _The Thorn Birds_.

Mrs. Peperium

Joules, I cannot tell you how honestly delighted I am that you have brought up The Thornbirds. And I do understand you were, like I, being tongue and cheek.

Little has been made of how much the Christian world (at least in America) has been confused, mishapen and even perverted by two television mini series...one appearing in January of 1982, PBS's Brideshead Revisited and the other, The Thornbirds, debuting on Palm Sunday and running through Holy Week of March 1983 on ABC, no less.

Now with Brideshead, the fault for perversion lays mostly with the viewer (laity) as most (adult) Americans--I'm including Catholics-- are either too smug, too educated in stupid things and not educated at all in the important things, too stupid, too lazy, or too arrogant to understand Evelyn Waugh. I know as I once was one of these Americans, (and still am) and wrote about it here:


Most people who have seen Brideshead Revisited think it's about a bunch of drunk rich gay boys and some warped English recusant Catholic family with a magnificent house. Wrong. Oh the Catholic family is warped and the boys are drunk, rich and two of them are gay -not Charles Ryder though- but the mini series is really about something far more serious and it's all there to see just as plain as the nose on anyone's face but most don't see it themselves, including the director or he would have surely axed it or the execs at PBS or they would have spiked it. But missing the point of Brideshead is even something Waugh believed most would do:

"Evelyn Waugh himself thought of his novel not as entertainment but as a camouflaged sermon, a case study of mercy being rejected and then accepted in the end. Its real point, he said, was “to trace the divine purpose in a pagan world.” The book’s subtitle should warn the reader: “The Sacred and Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder.” Though he would have flinched to hear it, Evelyn Waugh can be thought of as a spoiled priest.

"In a letter to A. D. Peters, his literary agent, Waugh said, “I hope the last conversation with Cordelia gives the theological clue. The whole thing is steeped in theology, but I begin to agree that the theologians won’t recognize it.” Nor did non-Catholic reviewers of the book recognize it..."

That comes from a most excellent article on Brideshead Revisited written at the time of the mini-series debut in '82 -BTW; Maxy, there's a rather interesting bit about deathbed conversions as that is what the book is really all about. Waugh built it around something he witnessed in real life -and the deathbed scene Waugh witnessed and actively participated in proves beyond a reasonable doubt the man was really incredibly kind and caring though few in the Ivy Leagues or Oxbridge would ever say so:


Imagine how different the Catholic Church in America might be, or our culture, if more people had grasped the true meaning of the Brideshead mini-series?

For one thing, ABC would never have gotten away with, a year later, airing DURING HOLY WEEK NO LESS, a mini-series fully depicting in a beach scene no less of a Catholic priest breaking his vows with a most unhappily married as well as unhappy woman who the priest had watched grow up and even counseled. And I thought President Clinton was Hell-bound when he overturned the partial birth abortion bann Congress had passed during Holy Week with 3 Catholic Cardinals and a Rabbi holding a 24 hour vigil in the pouring rain within view of the windows of Clinton's Oval Office. Can you imagine what judgement those execs back then at ABC brought on themselves for the sake of ART or money?

Anyway, I think the key point for the faithful about The Thornbirds is that long before --like about 20 years-- the affair ever takes place, Father Ralph was assigned to the Outback by the Church because of some previous (and very serious) disobedience in regards to his vows. So the priest, the faithful understand, right off the bat, is weak. And as the mini-series progresses, we see how his weakness is manipulated by his desires as well as all the women around him, inlcuding one he probably desired most to never harm. But somehow she shows up on a beach he's on, in a very comely bathing costume, and we've all seen what happened next. Thanks a Hell of a lot, ABC, really. I mean it. How truly wicked that was and still is. ABC deserves to rot in Hell.

So, when I speak of a priest being attractive, and if you've been a reader for a long time, you would know I do this quite often with many priests, including my hero, Father Rutler:


Father Ralph from The Thornbirds would never, ever figure on my list of attractive priests. What I find most attractive in a priest, if I may be so bold, is NOT physical attributions but his devotion to His Bride, the Church.

So, for those of you that I have most mistakenly misled, Father M. is not in the least little bit like Father Ralph from the Thornbirds.

Robert the Llama Butcher

A "camouflaged sermon"? Mercy me - the old boy practically leans over the pulpit and smacks one in the face with it!

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