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Films in our Catholic College Summer Program

Posted by Michael Krom on Fri, Mar 29, 2013 @ 12:03 PM

A few weeks back, a parent of a prospective student asked me about the movie we watch as part of the program:  Is this entertainment, or part of the educational content?

Both are true and, I would argue, this is true of every movie-going experience.  Watching a movie is not just being entertained, but also being asked to consider a philosophy of life. 

The Truman Show Catholic College Summer ProgramThe film I showed during the first Faith and Reason Catholic College Summer Program was The Truman Show.  This is a great example of a film that is both entertaining and ennobling.  On one level, it is just good comedy – Jim Carrey at his finest!  More deeply, though, it is a parable about the challenge of pursuing the Truth and even the need to undergo a sort of death to self in order to achieve human fulfillment. 

When we watched this movie we first read Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, a clear inspiration for the film.  In this allegory, Plato teaches us about the rewards awaiting those who undergo the long, even painful journey to Truth, as well as the fact that society generally inhibits us from undergoing such a journey.  “Truman Show” in many ways captures the nature of the examined life as a journey from ignorance and selfish pleasures to Truth and Love. 

How do We Discuss a Movie in a Catholic College Summer Program?

After looking at the movie as a philosophical allegory, we turn to the component of faith:  Is The Truman Show a Catholic film?  Part of what I like about this film is that, while there are certainly Christian elements to the film, calling the film “Catholic” requires thinking broadly about what we would mean by “Catholic Art.”  Michelangelo’s frescoes in the Sistine Chapel are certainly Catholic, but what about his secular drawings?  Is it sufficient that the subject of the work of art is Catholic, or must the artist be Catholic, or both?  Such questions lead to very good discussion among students, and help them think about the music they listen to and movies they watch:  Is this music or film consistent with the kind of person I see myself becoming as I mature? 

If you want to think more about the question of Catholic film, Michael Foley's "Four and a Half Kinds of Catholic Film" makes very helpful distinctions and is well-worth your time.

Topics: faith and reason, Michael Krom, summer program, The Truman Show, Catholic Art, Plato

About the Authors

Michelle Gil-Montero is an associate professor of English and director of creative writing at Saint Vincent College. She runs the visiting writers series on campus, oversees the student literary magazine, and serves as guru to aspiring poets on campus. She received her MFA from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 2007, and she has been on the Saint Vincent faculty since that year. She is an active poet and literary translator from Spanish. She is spending part of the 2016-17 school year travelling to Argentina on a Howard Foundation fellowship and Fulbright grant. 

Dr. John J. Smetanka has been a member of the full-time faculty since 1997 and currently serves as the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Academic Dean of Saint Vincent College, a position he has held since January 2008. Dr. Smetanka has taught courses in Physics, Astronomy, Chemistry and Geology as well as interdisciplinary seminars. He has published scientific research articles in physics and astrophysics journals, numerous conference proceedings and also works in science education reform and the interaction between science, technology and theology.

Jim Kellam is an associate professor of biology at Saint Vincent College and our resident ornithologist. He received his Ph.D. from Purdue University in 2003, and is taking this semester as a sabbatical. What does that mean? He'll explain in his blog posts.

Dr. Michael J. Urick is Graduate Director of the Master of Science in Management: Operational Excellence program, and Associate Professor of Management and Operational Excellence at the Alex G. McKenna School of Business, Economics, and Government. Dr. Urick teaches courses related to organizational behavior, human resources, culture, leadership, diversity, conflict, supply chain, operations and research methods. Professionally, Urick serves on the board of the Institute for Supply Management (Pittsburgh) and belongs to the Society for Human Resource Management and APICS. For fun, Urick enjoys music and, since 1998, has led and performed with Neon Swing X-perience, a jazz band that has released multiple albums and toured portions of the US. He enjoys watching movies, is an avid reader of fantasy and science fiction, and also likes to fence.

David Safin, C'00, has been a lecturer in the communication department since the Fall of 2003, and has served in a variety of administrative roles since the summer of 2004. Currently, he teaches multimedia in the communication department as an assistant professor. 

Dr. Michael Krom received his Doctorate in philosophy at Emory University in 2007 and is currently the chair of the philosophy department at Saint Vincent. He has authored a book on religion and politics and continues to publish works in Catholic moral and political thought. Dr. Krom also directs the Faith and Reason summer program every summer. 

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