This blog represents most of the newspaper columns (appearing in various Colorado Community Newspapers and Yourhub.com) written by me, James LaRue, during the time in which I was the director of the Douglas County Libraries in Douglas County, Colorado. (Some columns are missing, due to my own filing errors.) This blog covers the time period from April 11, 1990 to January 12, 2012.

Unless I say so, the views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They may be quoted elsewhere, so long as you give attribution. The dates are (at least according my records) the dates of publication in one of the above print newspapers.

The blog archive (web view) is in chronological order. The display of entries, below, seems to be in reverse order, new to old.

All of the mistakes are of course my own responsibility.

Wednesday, July 18, 2001

July 18, 2001 - A Metaphysical Farce

Profane. Vulgar. Violent. Full of sexual innuendo. That's not unusual for a movie, I guess. But this one, I got from a minister.

The movie's name is "Dogma." I have no idea how it was described at the time of release, but I know how I'd label it: a metaphysical farce. I'm sure it's at least an "R." The language is pretty coarse.

The basic plot line is convoluted. In brief, two long-exiled angels have found a sort of doctrinal loophole that will get them back into heaven. If they succeed, there will be, well, hell to pay.

Various other characters include a a forgotten Apostle, a couple of Prophets, yet another angel, a Muse or two, and the intriguing Scion.

I failed to mention another key character: God.

George Carlin puts in a wonderful performance as a highly placed Catholic official who rolls out a new image to replace the crucifix: a statue of Jesus, one thumb up, all smiles.

I have to say that I do believe, both personally and professionally, that swearing is the last refuge of the inarticulate. But despite all the above, "Dogma" manages to be both funny -- sometimes hilarious -- and thought-provoking.

The main protagonist of the piece is a woman who is suffering a crisis of faith. She's a Catholic, or at least, she goes to a Catholic church once a week. She also works at an abortion clinic, and is divorced.

While sleeping one night, she is visited by an angel, who appears in ablaze of flames. She douses him with a fire extinguisher.

I won't reveal any more about the plot than that. The movie is populated mostly by young people, all with that strangely jaunty air of the Gen-Xer.

It happens that I like that generation. I always have. They have a clear-eyed assessment of both what sucks in the world, and what matters. And they have the willingness, as does the protagonist, to do what's necessary, even if there's not much of a percentage in it. I like that about them, too.

I mention all this because the minister, Cal Kemper of "Song of Joy" (a United Church of Christ affiliate) wants to show the film and have a discussion about it. He asked me to sit in as co-facilitator.

I'm not a member of that church, but I like the idea of a free and open discussion about religion. That does seem to me to be at least one of the points of the First Amendment.

So, on July 28, 6:30 p.m., the Philip S. Miller Library in Castle Rock will be sponsoring a showing of the film, followed by a freewheeling discussion. On the one hand, we'll have Cal and Rebecca Kemper, the ministers. I presume that their interest is religious.

On the other hand, we'll have me. My interest is more cultural. What does this film say about religion in America? What does it say about faith as a motivating force in the life of a generation? What does it say about religion and the movies?

You may expect to find some books on display, too.

Again, please be advised that this film really isn't for children.

At any rate, if you have an interest in a decidedly offbeat evening talking about things that mostly don't get talked about, stop by the library. The show (and that includes participant discussion) is free.

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