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A Vincentian View: “Your Paul”

by | Mar 21, 2018 | Formation, Reflections | 1 comment

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Vincentian View: “Your Paul”

At different times, many of us have probably considered the difference between: (a) reading a story and then seeing the movie; and (b) seeing the movie and then reading the story.  I am sure that I saw the Sherlock Holmes movies before I started reading the stories.  I cannot imagine anyone other than Basil Rathbone playing the great detective.  I know that I saw “To Kill a Mockingbird” before I picked up the book; Gregory Peck is the only Atticus Finch that I can envision.  On the other hand, I read the Tolkien stories and some of the Harry Potter books before the movies.  The cinema versions of hobbits and Harry do not fit perfectly in my head.

You may have seen that a new movie has come out:  “Paul: Apostle of Christ.”  I confess to a certain dread at seeing it.  It is not just that I might argue with some of the history and scenes—I realize that one must allow for a certain artistic license in making these works.  My concern is that I will basically disagree with the portrayal of the character of Paul.

I have seen the trailer and read some of the stuff put out by the producers (“100% scripturally accurate”; “the experts have signed off on it”).  I have not made a project of studying the making of this movie, though I spent a little time trying to find out who were the “experts” who “signed off.”  No luck so far.  I do not want to write a review of a movie which I have not seen.  I suspect that I must see it because people will be asking me about it.

What I want to do is recognize that I have a particular understanding of Paul.  In my pride, I believe that I know him well.  I think that I know the way that he thinks and how he would act in certain circumstances.  We have his own letters; we have letters written in his name by those who knew him; we have a history composed to emphasize his role in the spread of Christianity.  Insights into Paul from numerous angles come to us via the New Testament.  We have a sense of how he matured in his Christian belief.  We know a lot about him and it is not improper to say that we know him, but each of us after a certain fashion.

The matter which preys on my mind is that the movie version of Paul will begin to influence the way in which people read his writings and read about him.  The interpretation of the director/producer/actor will begin to capture people’s imaginations:  Paul will become this portrayal.

What do you think?  Has Pierre Fresnay’s very sympathetic rendering of Vincent de Paul influenced your concept of our founder?  Vincent’s conferences, letters, stories and values can have given each of us a particular insight to measure against and with the performance.

My point?  I would insist that we need to hold onto our interpretation and understanding of Paul as that has come to us through our hearing and reading of the New Testament.  We are all touched by what we have learned about Paul from teachers and preachers, but these insights should be measured against his words and the texts of those who knew him personally.

As you go to see this movie—which I hope is excellent—keep a firm hold on “your Paul.”  He is worth your attention.

1 Comment

  1. Sr. Marjory Ann Baez

    Thank you very much!

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