David Russell Mosley
Feast of St. Luke
The Edge of Elfland
Hudson, New Hampshire
A few weeks ago I introduced my kids to one of my favorite kids’ movies, Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit, or, as my kids call it, Giant Rabbit. Of course, as I’ve mentioned before, one of the reasons I love this film is because of its quintessential Britishness. I mean honestly, first of all, what’s more more British than Wallace and Gromit, aside perhaps from a film that centers around an annual vegetable contest. Second, of course, is the fact that this was the first movie my wife and I saw together before we were even dating. But the third reason, and the reason I want to write about today, is the role the priest plays in this movie.
The priest, Rev. Clement Hedges, is really a rather hysterical figure. Whether he’s blessing his aubergines (eggplants to my fellow Yanks) with holy water, trying to hide his subscription to Nun Wrestling Magazine, or making puns, there’s no doubt he’s played for laughs and effectively so. And yet, he’s also something of a moral voice in the film. When we’re first introduced to the were-rabbit, though before we actually see it, the good reverend is placing some carrots on the altar in the church alongside plenty of other veg. He initially believes the were-rabbit is a hungry person and offers it food from the table since it is for the needy. Later, as the villain, Victor Quartermain is leaving the priest’s vicarage after learning how to kill the beast, the priest calls out after him, “Beware the beast within!” Here, rather unexpectedly, the priest calls out to the film’s villain not to beware the were-rabbit, but to beware his own animality, the animality that drives the villain to desire to kill the beast, despite knowing that it is human, and not simply an overlarge rabbit.
This brings me back to Rev. Hedges. The Curse of the Were-Rabbit is able to do something wonderful. Rev. Hedges is just like the rest of us. He wants to win the village vegetable competition, he makes puns, and is quite ridiculous. And yet, he is the keeper of arcane mysteries, mysteries most of us never have need of fully understanding (like how to get rid of a were-rabbit). He keeps the faith weird as my friends over at Sick Pilgrim are fond of saying. Do not our own clergy see over the sacraments, mediations of God’s grace that neither we (nor often they) can fully understand and yet it is their job to bring them to us? After all, to me, the were-rabbit seems far more likely than some of the things we Christians believe in, and yet we believe in them and not (perhaps) in the were-rabbit. So, let’s raise a glass to Rev. Hedges who reminds us that Christianity is keeper of things far stranger and far truer than were-rabbits.