Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Rite Presents God As Santa Claus

Like many films that center on the presence of the devil, the ultimate point of this production is to use the existence of the devil as proof of the presence of God. Demons are presented in fantastic, freighting ways and seem to be all powerful. Non-belief is reduced in importance because of the great evil present, and the resulting fear-based faith allows God to vanquish His enemy. This may seem correct since it sets man over God, but in actuality man’s faith is not the controlling factor in his relationship with the Almighty. God does not need man nor does He require his faith in order to act on his behalf.

This type movie, therefore, I believe, distorts the purposes of the Lord into some spiritual warfare Santa Claus.
Scott Nehring from Good News Film Reviews not only points out the problematic moral underpinning to The Rite, but also correctly skewers those who indulge in wishful thinking while reviewing the film because they are so hopeful to have a "Christian" movie taken seriously by the mainstream.

Scott also points out the many flaws inherent in the storyline in case all you were looking for was a good flick. Wow, it seems as if they really got The Rite ... wrong. Go read it all.


  1. Interesting. So far I have only heard Catholics raving over this flick. My interest in seeing it can best be described as ambivalent. Maybe I;ll see it, but I can wait for the dvd.

    Why are we always so surprised when Hollywood gets Catholicism wrong?

  2. Precisely. As our priest said in RCIA, "Never get your theology from Hollywood or tv."

  3. I knew that movie was gonna be lame, because Metacritic is never wrong. It torpedoed this flick from easily, with a low score of 38 out of 100, and a red flag that could be seen from afar.


  4. Forgive me, but I think that is Protestant ignorance and arrogance speaking. (What can be more arrogant than to think you can interpret Holy Scripture by yourself without God's revelation...) The Priest is not acting as himself, a man. He acts in such a case as Persona Christi. All the mystics tell us that when a Priest is ordained, part of God enters him. It is the Mystical Church battling the Devil, not man.

    I have not seen the movie, but I know the story that the 1st Exorcist was based on. The family was from a protestant tradition, and they attempted going there first. Prayers alone did nothing for the boy. That is why they ended up going to the Catholic Church. Full possessions are rare, but when they occur, you need the full sacramental power of the Church to overcome them.

    Iris Celeste

  5. Hi Iris. You don't specify but I assume that you are speaking about the review rather than the movie itself.

    In that case, I would mention that it help to have read Scott's entire review and see that the priest who must gain faith for the exorcism to be effective (which is in itself contrary to what you have mentioned above) is not ordained. Which is one of the things that Scott was protesting. I'd also mention that instead of going to find someone who WAS ordained he instead took the project on anyway. Which is very Hollywood but not Catholic ... in the very way that you have defined above. :-)

    I don't understand the point in mentioning the first Exorcist movie which was based on a completely different book. This movie was based on a nonfiction book, The Rite, which I have reviewed here and others have linked to extensively. So I'm not sure why it even got brought up in this context.

  6. Alas, I may be in the very small minority--and that's okay! :D--but I actually liked the movie very much. Maybe my perspective was skewed? I didn't come away from it with the impression that the movie was saying God could only act if the seminarian believed in him. Rather, I had the impression that God was waiting for that belief.

    In other words, to me it reflected the same question that is posed in the book, namely "Why does God allow possessions to happen?"

    I definitely don't think the movie was perfect--there were quite a few details (like the seminarian performing an exorcism) that made me snort into my Junior Mints--but it WAS wonderful to watch a mainstream movie that didn't treat Catholicism like Dan Brown's punching bag. And maybe it's because I'm still a "baby Catholic," but the part where the seminarian finally believes--and begins the Apostles' Creed!--gave me goosebumps and made me grin from ear to ear. It reminded me of my own baptism, and the wonderful goosebumps I had in standing up before the entire parish and saying yes, I DO believe.

    So yeah, I enjoyed it and didn't see it as cheapening God's power at all, but maybe that's just me. :)

  7. Hey Libby, thank you for the review! I was planning on watching anyway when it comes out on DVD, mostly because I liked the book so much (and I like Anthony Hopkins and he's in so few things I want to watch). This gives me hope! :-)