What Makes a Catholic Book Catholic?

What Makes a Catholic Book Catholic? March 26, 2014

File:Angelo Caroselli - Saint Jerome in the Wilderness - Walters 371910.jpg
St. Jerome, Patron Saint of the Short-Tempered Writer. Do visit the wikimedia page, nice commentary on the art in the description.

Over at the Catholic Writers Guild blog, I follow-up to yesterday’s film recommendation, since I might need to clarify a thing or two before my readers start gasping:

I recently recommended a film that, on its face, is exactly the sort of thing I don’t approve.  Laden with profanity, the story follows a handful of crass, immature, impulsive boys on a trip through adolescence gone wrong, with no firm moral grounding for a finish.  If our criteria for “Catholicity” is all that is true, beautiful, and good, I liked this one for the “true” — sin exposed in all its pathetic ugliness.  I consider it a valuable work in its proper context, but I wouldn’t call it “Catholic” in a strict sense, even though it has a decidedly Catholic setting.

A caveat lector (spectator), in case going to the film’s website hadn’t already done that for you:

There’s no shame in being the kind of Catholic who reads only the best and most certain of indisputably Catholic literature.  The human brain is made to learn, and thus it behooves us to tread carefully in educating ourselves.  You can always go back and read a book later, but you can never unread it.

And the one big problem Catholic writers really mustn’t ignore:

Even though we authors tend to understand very clearly the distinction between our own values and the ideas and actions of our characters, our readers do not.  One of the annoying laws of writing is that a bad philosophy put forward by a character must always be repudiated before the story ends, or it becomes the author’s philosophy as well.

I follow with a bit of catechesis, a smattering of business talk, and a couple of novels that illustrate my point. Read the whole thing at the Catholic Writers Guild blog.


PS: Yes, I’m feeling better! Thank you for praying. Am really digging my newly-reclaimed ability to sit upright for hours at a time.  Here’s hoping it sticks.

PPS: Julie Davis pointed me to SDG’s review of Noah, for more film & Catholicity commentary, plus help deciding if you want to go see the thing.

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