Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington



From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302


Media Watch
Montana priest publishes memoirs; Johnny Depp gives ‘understated’ portrayal of Dillinger in ‘Public Enemies’

by Father Tom Caswell, for the Inland Register

(From the Aug. 20, 2009 edition of the Inland Register)

Book Reviews

Years ago in the seminary, Father Jim Hogan of the Helena Diocese was a deacon when I was a third-year college student, six years behind him at St. Thomas Seminary in Kenmore, near Seattle. As a senior priest retired from his last position as pastor of Christ the King Parish in Missoula, Mont., where he served for 22 years, Father Hogan has written a new book, titled Yes We Are! The Living Body of Christ. It is part memoir and part passionate statement of why we should not backtrack on the reforms of Vatican II.

The book is published by Father Jim Hogan and Stoneydale Press of Stevensville, Mont. It is available directly from Father Hogan at 901 S. Higgins Ave. #301, Missoula, Mt. 59801 or at (406) 721-5090 or at jjhpadre@christthekingccm.org. The price is $19.95.

This is a book for friends of Jim Hogan, of whom there are many, and those who would see the reforms of Vatican II key to the Church’s mission today. Because Father Hogan states his point of view strongly, I don’t think his book would work well as facilitating dialogue between Catholics of differing views today.

Father Hogan takes examples from stages of his own life, as a pastor and from varied educational experiences, such as the University of Louvain and the Camino pilgrimage across northern Spain.

One of the most interesting sections from his own history is his narrative of working in the mines of Anaconda, Mont., during the summers of the eight years he was in the seminary. He joined “Mill and Smelter-Workers Union” and describes in detail the very difficult work he was assigned to do. This work, together with growing up in the very Catholic town of Anaconda, with the influence of many Religious Sisters and priests, deeply affected Father Hogan’s life and continuing journey.

He has one story about our own former bishop, Bernard J. Topel. At the time Jim was thinking of maybe entering the seminary he was interviewed by vocation director, then-Father Topel. The priest asked Jim: “Have you ever felt you have a vocation to the priesthood?” Jim explained he wanted to play basketball in college. Father Topel looked sternly at him and said: “If you have a vocation to priesthood and do not accept it, it will be very difficult to save your soul.” Jim did enter the seminary section at Carroll College in Helena, where he played basketball. His coach was Father (later Archbishop) Raymond Hunthausen, to whom his book is dedicated.

For many, Yes We Are! The Living Body of Christ is an informative, interesting, and provocative story of one man’s faith journey as he walked with others and tried to live up to the ideals of Vatican Council II.

(Editor’s note: Father Hogan will be signing copies of his book in Spokane at Auntie’s Books on Wednesday, Sept. 9, at 7 p.m.; the Hastings store in Coeur d’Alene on Thursday, Sept. 11, at 7 p.m.; and the Hastings store in Walla Walla on Saturday, Sept. 12, at 1 p.m.)

*****

Some weeks ago one of the Sisters at the Holy Names Convent on Fort Wright Dr. in Spokane passed on a wonderful book by Sister Joan Chittister, published in 2003 by William B. Eerdmans of Grand Rapids, Mich. and Novalis of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. The book is titled Scarred by Struggle, Transformed by Hope. It is available on-line as a used book for prices ranging from $9.41 to $12.

The overlying key to the book is the Genesis story of the fight between the angel of God and Jacob. The fight ends with no winner, but Jacob remains wounded. Sister Joan uses this powerful story as the metaphor for our lives. We are wounded, if you will; we are scarred by the struggle.

Sister Joan gives us a spiritual book that is part memoir as she uses examples from her own life of her own struggle with the angel of God. She writes movingly of the time in her life when, as a young high school teacher, she was told that she would be going to Iowa State University for the renowned Writers School, where many of America’s greatest writers of fiction got their start. But after being excited about the future for several months, she was told in May by her superior that it would be better for her humility to go to the Benedictine summer camp as third cook than to go to school. This was a devastating decision for her that took much struggle to come to grips with.

We all know that years later that Sister Joan became one of our great non-fiction writers, but how she got there is part of her story. It is a story that touches us and enables us to relate to it.

The book is a series of short chapters that could be used for a half-hour of spiritual reading each day. Most of the chapters are about our struggles with darkness, fear, and scarring. There are interspersed with various gifts such as faith, courage, and surrender. All this leads to the final chapters on the gift of hope and the resurrection of the spirit.

Scarred by Struggle, Transformed by Hope is a thoughtful, realistic and challenging book that is a gift for each of us on our journeys to a loving God.

Movie Review

Michael Mann, famous for the television series Miami Vice, is the director of the new film based on the last months of the life of John Dillinger, titled Public Enemies.

The film dramatically recreates the deep Depression period of the 1930s when bank robberies were all the rage throughout the Midwest. The antique cars are beautiful and there is not the slightest bit of dust on any of them. The more dusty cars would be found in the Warner Bros. gangster films of the early- to mid-1930s. The Ford tri-motor airplanes are impressive. Note how big the windows on the sides of the planes were.

The film focusing on the bank robbers and gangsters of the time shows the high life of the few. There are crowds of ordinary people who watch as Dillinger passes by on his way to jail several times, but Mann gives us virtually no indication of the incredible poverty of the time.

The film opens with a dramatic set piece of a prison break in which a handcuffed Dillinger is being brought into the Indiana prison by what appears to be a law enforcement official. But evidently Dillinger (Johnny Depp) and the man leading him in, Red (Jason Clarke) are all part of a carefully orchestrated plan to get Dillinger’s gang members out of the prison.

The story soon moves to Chicago, where Dillinger makes a play for hatcheck girl Billie Frechette (Marion Cotillard). At first she is not sure she wants to enter into his world. The two become very loyal to each other throughout the story of violent bank robberies and increasing violence as J. Edgar Hoover (Billy Crudup) puts the pressure on Dillinger and numerous other robbers. Hoover sends Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale) to head the Chicago Crime Investigation. As time goes by and Hoover wants Dillinger caught at all costs, he orders Purvis to use torture if need be. As the film goes on the violence escalates to an almost operatic crescendo.

One scene near the end, before Dillinger is mowed down coming out of a gangster flick at the Biograph Theater, is amazing if it is true. Dillinger walks into the Crime Central headquarters and sees all the photos of himself and other gang members. He even yells out to a group of law enforcement individuals gathered around a radio listening to a Chicago Cubs game, “What’s the score?” Dillinger’s ability to be in plain sight in Chicago is played up throughout the film.

If you are used to Johnny Depp from his recent pirate movies, you indeed will be surprised by his understated portrayal of the famed Dillinger. In this film sometimes the bad guys are shown with some good qualities, and the good guys, under Hoover’s pressure of the new FBI, are shown to have some very bad qualities. Marion Cotillard’s performance as Billie also is fairly low key. She does not have the electricity she portrayed in the prize-winning Edith Piaf film La Vie en Rose.

Billy Crudup is terrific as J. Edgar Hoover. Christian Bale is pretty much one note throughout the film.

Public Enemies is a beautifully filmed work that seems a little hallow in the center. It is interesting to see but fails to live up the classic masterpieces of Godfather I and II.

The film is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian) by the Motion Picture Association of America. The Office of Film and Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has rated Public Enemies A-III – for adults. There is bloody gun violence.

(Father Caswell is archivist and Ecumenical Relations Officer for the Diocese of Spokane, and a frequent contributor to this publication.)


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