Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

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

Media Watch
Jackie Robinson, Spokane’s MAC, and Scientology share the media spotlight this month

by Father Tom Caswell, for the Inland Register

(From the May 16, 2013 edition of the Inland Register)

Movie Reviews

The new independent film Mud is the type small film you normally expect in the fall as the Academy Award nominations approach. Already several early critics have referred to the film as a possible classic. It has overtones of Mark Twain, the southern gothic of Flannery O’Connor, and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. Mud is a wonderful story by Jeff Nichols, beautifully photographed by Adam Stone and impeccably acted by a great group of actors.

Ellis (Tye Sheridan) is 14, living along the Mississippi River in Southeastern Arkansas. His parents (Sarah Paulson and Ray McKinnon) are in the midst of a probable divorce and his home on a houseboat is threatened to be torn down by state authorities.

With his friend Neckbone (Jacob Lofland), Ellis goes out to an island in the river where they find an abandoned boat high in a tree. It evidently is caught there as a result of an earlier flood. The boys seek to claim the boat, but find out someone is living in it. The aged 40-something mysterious character is named Mud (Matthew McConaughey).

He is hiding out from we are not sure what. Ellis in particular is drawn to the charismatic drifter. He goes and gets him some food.

Eventually Mud asks the boys to make contact at a local motel with his beloved, Juniper (Reese Witherspoon). The boys also meet the man who raised Mud (Sam Shepard). He may have worked for the CIA.

Ellis is a romantic. He wants to get Mud and Juniper back together. And he has his own hope to be the boyfriend of a high school girl several years older. There is lots of mystery and turns-of-events throughout the film. Joe Don Baker, back from those violent Southern films of the ’70s, leads a heavily armed group of bounty hunters who get on their knees, praying to catch Mud. The talented Michael Shannon has a short but humorous part as Neckbone’s uncle. Jeff Nichols directs Mud with a determination for us to see the beauty and life of his native Arkansas.

Mud is a poignant and memorable film that strikes at the heart of the human condition with all its joy and pain. It is a story well told.

Mud is rated by the Motion Picture Association of America as PG-13 because of violence and profanity. It is not yet rated by Catholic News Service.


The best popular movie of the year so far is 42. Brian Halgeland has written and directed the moving story of Jackie Robinson’s first few years in professional baseball.

So what we have is the account of the difficult breaking of racist segregation in baseball in 1947. Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford), the head of the Brooklyn Dodgers, decides to go against all his advisors and hire a UCLA graduate in four sports from the all-Negro Kansas City Monarchs. Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) impressed Rickey because he had been court marshaled from the military for refusing to sit in the back of a segregated bus. Rickey, wonderfully played by Ford in an almost over-the-top way, says to an associate something like, “He’s a Methodist. I’m a Methodist. And God is a Methodist.”

Early in the film we follow Robinson at spring training as he first plays for the Montreal Royals, a farm team of the Dodgers. After another spring training Jackie is called up to the Dodgers. Even though his teammates at first refuse to play with him and a retired manager is called in after Leo Durocher is suspended by the League on moral issues, Jackie begins playing on April 15, 1947. It is now a tradition for major league players to all wear the number 42 every April 15.

One of the most difficult scenes to watch in the film is a five or so minute tirade against Robinson while he is preparing to bat by Ben Chapman (Alan Tudyk), the manager of the Philadelphia Phillies. The horrific racist speech is one example of the odds that were against Robinson.

Through it all, his wife, Rachel Isum Robinson (Nicole Beharie), helped him through it. She is still alive, in her 90s today. Recently the well-known commentator George Will said on the ABC Sunday Morning show said that Jackie Robinson is the second most important person after Martin Luther King in helping this country face the evil of segregation and racism.

One poignant scene in the film is when Pee Wee Reece, playing at Crosley Field in Cincinnati with all his relatives from Kentucky watching, decides he will play with Robinson and puts his arm around him before the game as the “boos” are cried out. Today the statue of that event is in Brooklyn.

Chadwick Boseman is terrific as Jackie Robinson. In 1947 Robinson was awarded “Rookie of the Year” and the Dodgers with his help won the National League pennant.

Some may feel that 42 is too old-fashioned and maudlin. But I found the film an experience of hope and thoroughly entertaining. Do yourself a favor and see this inspiring film.

The Motion Picture Association of America rates 42 PG-13 because of thematic elements and language. The Catholic News Service rates the film A-II – for adults.

Museum Report

You don’t have to travel to New York City to see an extraordinary exhibit on architecture at the Museum of Modern Art. You can easily visit the Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture (MAC) in the Brown’s Addition neighborhood of Spokane before Nov. 2.

The exhibit is titled “SPOMa: When form followed function. And Spokane was Modern.” For 25 years (1948-1973) Spokane was the center of large number of architects trained or influenced by Walter Gropius in Germany and sought by such giants as Frank Lloyd Wright. They built churches, homes and public buildings that brought all kinds of architectural innovation to Eastern Washington.

Two of the Spokane Catholic churches featured in the exhibit are St. Charles (1961) by Funk, Murray & Johnson and Sacred Heart (1968) by Culler, Martell & Ericson, as well as Clarkston’s Holy Family Church, by Funk, Murray & Johnson.

St. Charles has special material on the innovative roof designed by Don Murray, the striking windows by Gabriel Loire and the altar, doors and baptistry by Harold Balazs. Be sure to check out the sections of Mater Cleri Seminary in Colbert and the Holy Names convent in Spokane.

The entry fees for the MAC are Adults-$7, Seniors-$5, Students-$5, and Children under five-Free. The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. You can easily spend an hour or more at this wonderful exhibit.

Book Review

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Lawrence Wright has taken a 2011 New Yorker magazine profile he wrote of screen writer and director Paul Haggis leaving Scientology and expanded it into a comprehensive investigation of that religion. Wright’s book is titled Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief. It is published by Alfred A. Knopf in hardcover for a list price of $28.95.

This exhaustively researched book tells the story of the life of L. Ron Hubbard and how he founded Scientology. His first Scientology book was Dianetics. The layout of the religion, which was originally classified as a business by the Internal Revenue Service, is a connection to science fiction.

For example, souls are called thetans. Engrams are self-destructive impulses in the brain. Counseling sessions to lessen the engrams are known as auditings. As you pass through various layers to the top you come to “Going Clear,” which is the place where you are a completed Scientologist.

There have been numerous articles in recent years on Scientology, from Time magazine to the St. Petersburg Times. Information from them is incorporated in this book.

Among points discussed are the effort to get Hollywood celebrities to become active members of the religion, the strong negative concern about psychiatry and medications used for mental illness, the camps where members are sometimes placed with little access to the outside world, and the difficulty if a member tries to leave the organization.

Wright does his best to explain all the terms used by Scientologists, but it does get a little confusing to remember that OT V means the fifth level after taking the special courses and PTS/SP refers to a Potential Trouble Source/Suppressive Person. There are discussions of physical and mental punishment used at various times on some members.

I found it interesting that many of the celebrity members and the present leader David Miscavige have Catholic backgrounds.

There is a lot of interesting detail throughout the book, but at times it almost seems overwhelming.

The Epilogue, where Wright does some comparison with Mormonism, Christian Science, the Amish and several other more recent religious groups, is very helpful. The author strives to be fair in the midst of presenting very disturbing evidence found in Scientology. Officially Scientology denies such evidence and says the information is from disgruntled former members.

Because of strict libel laws, Going Clear is not being published in Great Britain, and publication has been held up in Canada.

If you have any interest in the history and make-up of Scientology, Going Clear is a thoughtful book.

(Father Caswell is Inland Register archivist, and a frequent contributor to this publication.)

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