Tom Hoopes is Vice President of College Relations and writer in residence at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas. He has written for the Register for more than 20 years and was its executive editor for 10. His writing has appeared in First Things’ First Thoughts, National Review Online, Crisis, Our Sunday Visitor, Inside Catholic and Columbia. He has served as press secretary for the Chairman of the U.S. House Ways & Means Committee. He and his wife, April, were editorial co-directors of Faith & Family magazine for 5 years. They have nine children.
In the last post, I referred to Hoopes Catholic Movie Night. We have one every week.
The rules are simple: One night a week we watch a mainstream movie that portrays the Catholic faith. That’s it. A priest counts. Rocky Balboa praying counts (but only if there’s a tabernacle in the chapel, which there is in Rocky II. There’s also a priest). Bible movies, implicitly, count.
We try to mix up heavier and lighter fare.
The whole exercise has three goals:
1. Inoculation. Our kids are going to see lots of movies in which the Catholic Church either doesn’t exist or is the bad guy. I want them to have lots of experience seeing quality films that respect the Church so they’ll never learn to think that “Catholic” means “mediocre.”
2. Introspection. Even the “Hollywood product” movies we watch tend to provoke deep questions about the faith. The kids puzzled at the warrior pope of The Agony and the Ecstasy, the abandoning of Ingrid Bergman’s Joan of Arc by the Church, the operation of grace despite the complicated human mess in The Mission, and the sagas of personal vocation in Hoodlum Priest and The Keys of the Kingdom.
3. Inspiration. These movies deliver spiritual messages that renew us … for the most part. Even Henry Poole Is Here does.
Now, I must admit that in a pinch we will fulfill our night of obligation by throwing on a half-hour episode of “The Flying Nun.” But that never hurt anybody, and it’s fun to look for Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Paul VI and crucifixes in the background of a TV sitcom starring Sally Field and Alejandro Rey.
Joe Pro wrote here about some family movie nights whose criteria are less strict than the Hoopeses.
But, I don’t know. If we did it that way, we never would have discovered that these movies really do deserve to be on a Top 100 list.