— 1 —
I began unfriending people from Facebook last night. Having finally had it up to my eyeballs with the consistent non-personal postings of some who instead choose to harbor a passive-aggressive attitude by labeling anyone and everyone who holds a dissenting viewpoint as a hater, bigot, or racist, I choose to begin deleting them. We’re still friends (after all there is still the reality of “real life”, since it has existed long before the advent of social media), but in this one, minor facet of my life I’ve decided that I do not wish to consistently be insulted or have every single thing hyper-politicized. That is my choice. The shocking is taking precedence over the sublime, and I’ve got better things to do than to stand there while cultural and political feces is hurled at my face.
There are some who will say this is very “unfriendly” of me, or even uncharitable. Allow me to say something to this point. Among the few non-political postings/images slapped onto my Facebook feed are quotes and images that are meant to inspire. Many of them advise you to “clear the clutter from your life” and “focus on the good”, etc. These are the same principles I’d learned years ago by reading Napoleon Hill’s Think & Grow Rich. You can click here to see all seventeen principles of personal achievement as defined by Hill. I did not read this book with the intent on becoming monetarily wealthy per se, but to use the principles to access and gain the other forms of wealth that exist in the world. For a few years now I’ve gotten off of the path that ultimately led me to helping others around me by playing in a big kiddie sandbox. So to those who might think me a cad for doing what I’m doing I can only say that I’m taking their advice and shaking the proverbial dust off my feet. I still love and respect them, but I do not need to know or be subjected to every emotional outburst they have. I certainly strive to avoid doing that to them, because believe me when I say I’m human and as such can be emotional as well.
A very successful friend of mine once told me that we are the products of three things: the books we read, what we listen to, and the people we associate with. I’ve never forgotten that even as I failed to apply that wisdom from time to time.
Please indulge me for a moment while I quote myself from 23 months ago:
Our world today is made up of the sound-bite. The 10 second statement, the 140-character Tweet, the erudite comments box. We’re too busy absorbing the vast amounts of information bombarding us daily to sort through it. And those who want their message heard know this. So the vitriol and the yelling and the in-your-face style of rant and snark increases. And I wonder: where will it end?
In many ways we have never left the school playground. Oh, we think we have. We have graduated high school, perhaps college. We have jobs, mortgages, kids, etc. But we keep getting dragged back to the playground. The tough jungle of our youth where the bullies knocked down the weak, physically and emotionally, and sneered at you while hanging from the monkey bars.
It’s getting more and more shrill by the hour. When will we grow up?
— 2 —
I thought this was an interesting article. There was a vote of some sort taken and it was used to compile a top ten list of the most influential saints. Note the word influential, and not popular. I can’t say that I agree or disagree with the list, but can only note that lists like this are never going to satisfy everyone and usually exist today only to spark a debate or dialog. For my money I would have definitely included St. Thomas Aquinas. Perhaps a Top 11?
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Speaking of lists, the latest list of the greatest movies of all time was released a few days ago. After holding the top spot for fifty years Citizen Kane finally lost its claim to #1. It was replaced by Hitchcock’s Vertigo. Kane is one of my favorites and remains one I watch on an annual basis. I have to cop to the fact that while I generally love Hitchcock’s films I’ve never seen Vertigo start to finish.
My own little stab at a (very small) list based upon genre, with three in each genre and in no particular order (and off the top of my little noggin):
- Western: Tombstone, The Searchers, High Noon
- Sport: The Natural, Hoosiers, Bull Durham
- Drama: To Kill A Mockingbird, Casablanca, Age of Innocence
- Action: Raiders of the Lost Ark, Gladiator, Die Hard
- Family: It’s a Wonderful Life, The Quiet Man, The Princess Bride
- Disney/Pixar, etc: Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Toy Story
- Comedy: Monty Python & the Holy Grail, Young Frankenstein/Blazing Saddles (tie), Office Space
- Romance/Chick Flick: Return to Me, Sleepless in Seattle, Under the Tuscan Sun
- Horror: The Thing, Alien, Poltergiest
- Foreign Film: Life Is Beautiful, Of Gods and Men, Cinema Paradiso
- Musical: Sound of Music, Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang, Enchanted
- Fantasy: LOTR: The Fellowship of the Ring, Harry Potter & The Order of the Phoenix, Excalibur
- War: Patton, The Great Escape, The Dirty Dozen
- Catholic/Faith: I Am David, Going My Way, The Mission
- Movies to Lose Myself In: The Tree of Life, The English Patient, Dances With Wolves
The Fifty Best Catholic Movies of All Time? Perhaps not, but it’s a great list.
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Good grief, I spent enough time compiling that little list. I could have gone on (and on…and on) but I’ll stop to comment on a film that is on my foreign film list above. It’s a 1988 film that I’ve wanted to see for quite some time and only last night was finally able to view. Cinema Paradiso just may be one of the best films I have ever seen, no matter the genre. There are subtitles and the entire film is set in Sicily. It is a wistful and humorous look back upon the people and events that influence our lives as seen through the man character, a successful man who is returning home to Sicily for the funeral of a friend. It contains many subtleties that are lost in the bombastic CGI-consumed action/superhero films so popular these days, and the film’s ending is wonderful. I loved this film and highly recommend it. As a bonus the musical score by the master Ennio Morricone stays with you long after the film is finished.
This movie is a celebration of youth, friendship, and the love affair we have with the movies. What is affirmed in films such as Paradiso is that while childhood is a wonderful time, there is no going back. We must put the lessons learned to use and move forward, building upon each lesson along the way.
— 5 —
I’ll close this week with a favorite quote by a favorite author: Hilaire Belloc. Have a great week!