In 2006 I wrote a letter to the editor which appeared in my local newspaper. The Title was ” ‘Code’ is a choice.” What follows is an excerpt from that letter:
“Ben Hur” (1959) a film based on the novel “Ben Hur: A Tale Of The Christ,” won eleven Academy Awards, including Best Picture. “The Passion Of The Christ” (2004), received not one nomination from the Motion Picture Academy. The People’s Choice Award for Best Picture that year was “The Passion Of The Christ.” This weekend, “The Da Vinci Code,” based on Dan Brown’s novel, opens in theaters around the country. In the past forty-four years, the focal point and basis for the Christian faith has gone from revered to reviled. I understand that the divinity of Christ is a clear threat to the secular way of life in western culture today. It didn’t seem that way to the layman movie-goer a little over four decades ago.
Below is a list of Academy nominated and award winners from the 1930’s to 1960’s. All are Christian based and the majority are specifically Catholic. The likes of which we recently have not seen nor truly appreciated as a culture for too long.
- “Angels with Dirty Faces” 1939 Nominated Best Actor
- “Boys Town” 1939 Won Best Actor, Nominated Best Picture, and Director
- “The Song of Bernadette” 1943 Nominated Best Actress
- “Going My Way” 1944 Won Best Picture, Actor, Supporting Actor, and Director
- “The Keys of the Kingdom” Nominated Best Actor
- “The Bells of Saint Mary” 1945 Nominated Best Picture, Actor, Actress, and Director
- “It’s a Wonderful Life” 1946 Nominated Best Picture, Actor, and Director
- “Joan of Arc” 1947 Nominated Best Actress
- “Quo Vadis” 1951 Nominated Best Picture
- “The Robe” 1953 Nominated Best Picture, and Actor
- “The Ten Commandments” 1956 Nominated Best Picture
- “Ben Hur” 1959 Won Best Picture, Actor, Supporting Actor, and Director
- “The Nun’s Story” 1959 Nominated Best Actress
- “Elmer Gantry” 1960 Won Best Actor and nominated for Best Picture
- “Inherit the Wind” 1960 Nominated Best Actor
- “Lillies of the Field” 1963 Won Best Actor, Nominated Best Picture
- “Becket” 1964 Nominated Best Picture, and Actor
My reason for resurrecting this past letter – to – the – editor is due to tragic recent events. Those events have revealed that a culture which was once an advocate of life has now become one of death. Too much of what we are inundated with, through various forms of media and entertainment on a regular basis, seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day promote the latter culture. When I was a child, TV broadcasts began at approximately seven or eight AM and ended at 12 midnight. The broadcast day opened with the National Anthem and ended the day the same. All that was presented as entertainment was suitable for family viewing. And prayer had yet been removed, along with God, from public schools.
As can be gathered from my above letter…the attention of society has been diverted from God to man. It has chosen a flawed subjective approach to living life and cast aside the infallible absolute; chaos over order. In considering the increasing number of killings and the intensity of the underlying hatred that have taken place over the decades from the 50’s to present, one must take into account first how, and then why, we have come to be faced with such atrocities that are imposed by neighbor upon neighbor.
The Ten Commandments is a manual of life. It was revealed by God not only in how man should successfully relate to God but, also, how man can successfully relate to his fellow-man. Six of those commandments are God focused and six are neighbor focused. Christ, God incarnate, simplified the commandments by combining the two groups of six into two elementary commands which are easily remembered: 1) Love God and 2) Love your neighbor. Neither can be accomplished without the other. By loving God we can’t help but love our neighbor. And to love our neighbor is a condition of loving God. Christ said: “No one loves me who does not do what I say,” and “He tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves.”
No weapon banned nor institution secured will ever completely resolve the dangers that one man can put upon another. Only an about-face in our culture can truly accomplish that. The decades spanned of moral degradation required in bringing us to this state need not be again endured to achieve a turn-around. For if we understand the power of the will, the reinstatement of the culture of life can be realized with but the dawn of a new day.
If we do not overcome the temptation to sin, can we then turn from the shadow of hate and death to again face the light of love and life? If our society’s present trend does not come to an end, then no elimination of weapon can protect one brother or sister from another. For out of the sins of pride and envy did “Cain rise up against Abel his brother and kill him.” – (Genesis 4:8) No specific weapon was identified in mankind’s first murder. In and of themselves, hands have the ability to caress or abuse. It all comes down to a choice.
If our hearts are one with God and one another, then we will not be capable of harm. For in that oneness does love abide.