In the Closet of the Vatican: Power, Homosexuality, Hypocrisy
By Frédéric Martel
Bloomsbury, 2019, 555 pages
I didn’t realize that many Catholic clerics were homosexual until I began attending a Catholic high school that was administered by the Irish Christian Brothers and became indirectly aware about such things. Several of the brothers were decidedly effeminate and one of my guidance counselors posited some inappropriate questions to me during one of our sessions. That was back in the early 70s. Over the last twenty-years, we’ve all witnessed headline after headline of Catholic priests sexually abusing children, especially boys. What are the reasons for that? I’ve stated for years that Catholicism’s rule of clerical celibacy was both a magnet for and an incubator of sexual deviancy. Sources both Catholic and non-Catholic are now coming forward examining the reasons why so many priests are sexually deviant. For some strange reason, this topic was “off-limits,” until now.
French investigative journalist, Frédéric Martel, has dropped this bombshell on the Catholic church and the effects will be iconoclastic. In interviews with numerous priests, bishops, and cardinals, Martel exposes the truth that the church has kept hidden for centuries; a large percentage of Catholic clerics are either practicing homosexuals or sympathetic homophile “fellow travelers.” The percentage of gay clerics grows larger the higher one goes up the hierarchy. Powerful prelates reward their “proteges” with important positions and the “parish” is perpetuated.
Martel confirms that Catholic seminaries with their rule of clerical celibacy attracted young men who were societal misfits and not agreeable to marriage. He closely examines the papacies of Paul VI, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI, both for their promotions of homosexuals to powerful positions and for their strong denunciations of homosexuality according to official church teaching. In an example of “The lady doth protest too much” Shakespearean hypocrisy, Martel shows that some of the most vocal critics of homosexuality were/are practicing homosexual clerics.
This book takes no prisoners. Martel is a homosexual and clearly has an axe to grind in chastising the church and propagating the LGBTQ agenda. But the Catholic church has no answers for the truths he reveals. Although I applaud this book for revealing the Vatican’s dark secrets, it was difficult to read because of the abundance of sordid details.
I’m not an anti-homosexual crusader as my old pastor was 35 years ago. Sin is sin. But the propagation of the LBGTQ agenda has had and will have alarming negative effects on the family and society in general.
The salient irony of this tempest that I don’t want you to miss is that a religion that teaches merited salvation is led to a sizeable degree by men who are either practicing homosexuals, pedophiles, or homophile “fellow travelers.” Every Roman Catholic and evangelical Vatican-watcher needs to read this book, as difficult as it may be.
“26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.” – Romans 1:26-27
The Monk Who Lived Again
By B.H. Pearson
Cowman Publications, 1954, 178 pages
Few American evangelicals know the name of Walter M. Montaño these days, but 70 years ago he was widely known as the ex-priest who did tremendous missionary work among Roman Catholics throughout Central and South America. I was blessed to read this thirteenth printing of his biography.
Walter was born to an aristocratic family in Cuzco, Peru in 1903. His mother died when he was very young and his father remarried shortly thereafter, but the second wife had no affection for the boy and he was sent away to be raised by his uncle, a Roman Catholic priest. Young Walter eventually aspired to the priesthood himself and entered the Dominican seminary in Lima in 1920 at the age of 17. He was ordained as a friar and earned a doctorate degree in philosophy.
Walter had assumed that his membership in the “elite” Dominicans would quell his spiritual restlessness, but such was not the case. The legalism and ritualism of the order’s daily religious routines brought no spiritual satisfaction. The blatant hypocrisy and scoffing of his mendicant brothers was unexpected, disappointing, and unnerving. Because of his continuing academic pursuits, Walter came to the attention of the superiors of the Peruvian Dominicans and he was chosen to write the biography of Martin de Porres as a part of the campaign for his canonization. It distressed Walter that he was ordered to include several fabricated miraculous events in the book.
Walter was then assigned to oversee his monastery’s library, which included a restricted collection of Protestant literature to which access was granted solely by the order’s superior. Walter was curious and secretly brought a book, “Nights with the Romanists” by M.H. Seymour, back to his small, personal quarters, which caused him great spiritual distress. Walter then borrowed a second forbidden book, but was caught by his prior (superior) and punished. However, Walter’s inner spiritual turmoil could not be quelled and he escaped the monastery one January morning in 1927.
Walter made his way to a nearby Protestant mission and after talking and praying all day with one of the pastors, he repented of his sin and accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior by faith alone. Shortly afterwards, he began assisting the ministers and eventually began going out on preaching assignments by himself. The Catholic people of Peru were curious to hear this ex-priest who had become a Protestant, but the notoriety also drew the attention of the Catholic hierarchy, who regularly dispatched the civil authorities to harass Walter. Attempts were made on his life. His father and the rest of his family cut all ties.
Walter Montaño married an American missionary and spent his life criss-crossing the Americas in proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ. Grateful converts to Christ bestowed upon him with affection the moniker of “Martin Luther of the Americas.” He would serve as executive director of Christ’s Mission, a former outreach to Roman Catholics that is of special interest to me, from 1951 to 1960. Walter went home to the Lord in 1981.
I really enjoyed this biography, even with its flowery, 1940s-era prose. Praise God for Walter Montaño and others who reached out to Roman Catholics with the Gospel. Where are the Walter Montaños of today?
Three years ago, I reviewed an excellent book written by Montaño titled, “Behind the Purple Curtain,” in which the missionary described the longstanding Catholic persecution of Protestants throughout Latin America. See here.
Readers know that I usually collect news stories for the weekend roundup, but sometimes a story requires a separate post all by itself, as in this case.
On June 27th, grieving family and friends gathered at Saint Mary Catholic Church in Newport, Maryland for a funeral mass for the late Agnes Hicks (photo center). Prior to the start of the mass, one of the mourners accidentally knocked over a “sacred” chalice near the altar, damaging it. The parish priest, “Reverend” Michael Briese (photo left), became violently enraged by the accident (photo right).
One of the daughters of the deceased told reporters that the unhinged Briese then told the Hicks family, “There will be no funeral, there will be no mass. Get this thing (the casket) out of my church! Everyone get the hell out of my church!”
The priest called the police to remove the family and friends of the deceased from the church. Once at the scene, the officers determined a crime had not been committed and graciously made immediate arrangements for an alternate funeral service in another county.
Following the incident, Briese and the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. issued separate public apologies. The priest has been placed on administrative leave while the diocese “investigates.”
As an ex-Catholic, I don’t find priest Briese’s reaction to be shocking given the circumstances. The Roman Catholic church has always valued its “sacred” religious finery over people. Catholics believe their “sacred” chalices hold the transubstantiated body of Jesus Christ in the forms of bread wafers and wine. For a person to carelessly knock over a “sacred” chalice and damage it would be seen as an act of intolerable desecration by pious Catholics. If there had been Jesus wafers or Jesus wine in the chalice at the time of the accident, well, the priest’s reaction would have been even worse. Try to imagine the Lord Jesus Christ berating a mourning family because someone accidentally damaged a cup. Sigh.
I also need to point out that the mass is a major component of Catholicism’s complex false salvation system, which teaches that salvation is earned through sacramental grace and merit. The mass is blasphemous on so many different levels. My heart grieves for the millions of Catholics who are depending on their priests and the man-made Catholic religious system for their salvation.
Keep in mind that the headlines over the last twenty years have revealed that these celibate priests who are so reverential and protective when it comes to their “sacred vessels” are engaging in the worst kinds of wickedness behind closed doors.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.” – Matthew 23:25-26
Jesus is not in a “sacred” cup and offered up as a victim on Catholic altars. He is seated at the right hand of God the Father and making intercession for everyone who accepts Him as Savior by faith alone. Repent of your sin and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior today!
During Francis’ visit to Chile this past January, the pope committed an incredible blunder by reacting in anger to victims of priest pedophiles who have gone public and referring to them as “slanderers.” Chilean Catholics are livid over the church hierarchy’s cover-up of abusive priests and the pope’s gaffe added fuel to the fire. The Vatican has been in damage control mode ever since.
Last week, the Chilean bishops were summoned to the Vatican (photo above) and Francis accused them of “failing to investigate complaints of abuse, allowing evidence to be destroyed, and covering up for abusive priests by moving them from place to place.” Francis said the systemic failures had left him “perplexed and ashamed.” On Friday, all 34 of the national bishops offered their resignations, an unprecedented occurrance in the history of Romanism. How many resignations will Francis accept? Stay tuned. The takeaway is that Francis needs to throw some bishops under the bus in an attempt to exonerate himself after his misstep. This pedophile scandal has been dogging the Catholic church for twenty years but is uncorrectable because celibacy both attracts and fosters deviancy. One of the commentators on the Catholic radio show I was listening to today stated that it’s well-known that the Chilean Catholic clergy are rife with homosexuals, but that’s no different than here in the U.S.
In addition to dressing down the bishops, Francis met with some of the victims of the abuse in Chile including the main whistle-blower, Juan Carlos Cruz, a self-professed homosexual.
It’s reported that Francis told the man: “Look Juan Carlos, the pope loves you this way. God made you like this and he loves you.”
The statement is contrary to official Catholic teaching, which teaches that homosexual inclinations are unnatural and sinful if pursued.
The conservative Catholic pundits I listened to were quick to point out that the statement was only alleged, but given Francis’ radical comments in the past they hedged their bets and added that the pope’s private conversations are not official teaching and are not binding on anyone. For many conservative Catholics, Francis’ papacy can’t end soon enough. LGBTQ organizations are reacting to the pope’s alleged comments with high praise.
I grew up during a very tumultuous time for Roman Catholics, during the implementation of the dramatic window dressing changes of Vatican II, and I’d like to share a few memories from that time.
Prior to Vatican II, all Catholic altars had a wooden or carved stone rail around them. The rail signified that the altar, where the priests allegedly changed bread wafers and wine into the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ and where surplus consecrated Jesus wafers were stored in the “tabernacle,” was an especially holy area. Just as the “common” Israelites were forbidden from stepping foot on Mt. Sinai or entering into the restricted areas of the Tabernacle and Temple, Catholics were generally not allowed to enter the altar area.
I was an altar boy from fifth through eighth grades and my first couple of years serving were prior to the Vatican II changes. The priests conducted the mass in Latin and the altar boys’ responses were in Latin even though we did not understand one word we were saying. The priests had their backs to the congregation and wooden rails were around the altar. I felt very privileged to be able assist the priests inside the restricted altar area.
Several men officiated as priests at the parish while I was an altar server and all of them struck me as a bit strange compared to my father, uncles, and other adult men I knew, but none more so than “father” Lynch.
The other priests at least made awkward attempts at civility towards us altar boys, but not Lynch. When we entered the church sacristy to prepare for mass, Lynch could barely be bothered to say hello. He never offered a smile. I sensed he had a keen dislike for us (or was he struggling with some other issue?). During the mass liturgy, the priests were required to read passages from the huge altar “missal” (i.e., a liturgical book containing all instructions and texts necessary for the celebration of Mass throughout the year). Lynch was a short, squat fellow and very near-sighted. He would have us boys stand on one of the lower steps leading up to the altar and he would place the huge, heavy book on our heads, not always gently, which he would then read from. It was very humiliating (and physically uncomfortable) to have to stand in front of the congregation with the heavy book on our heads. Lynch enjoyed demeaning us.
When it came time to distribute the Jesus wafers, the supplicants would kneel down along the altar rail and the priests would place the wafer on each person’s tongue while we altar boys walked backward, next to the priest, placing a round “patten” under the chins of the supplicant in order to catch a possible falling Jesus wafer. Lynch would always distribute communion twice as fast as the other priests and we altar boys had a difficult time keeping our balance as we walked backward and tried to properly position the patten under people’s chins in synch with the pace of the frenetic priest.
Vatican II dramatically changed the rubrics of the mass. The mass liturgy was changed to English and priests turned around and faced the congregation. The altar rails were removed so that the congregants could feel like they were more like participants in the ritual rather than just observers. But despite all the window dressing changes, the core doctrines of Catholicism remained. Catholics continue to be taught the false gospel of salvation by sacramental grace and merit.
Catholic traditionalists deeply resented the changes wrought by Vatican II and still clamor for the mass to be said in Latin, for the priest to face “ad orientem,” toward the altar, and for the reinstallation of altar rails. In Catholicism, the ritual and ceremony, the shell, has always been the focus rather than the Pearl of Great Price, which is salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Priests are not needed. Altars are not needed. Sacrifice for sin was finished for all time by Jesus Christ at Calvary. Place your trust in Jesus as your Savior by faith alone. Jesus Christ removes all rails and barriers between sinners and God, but you must accept Him as your Savior. Won’t you repent of your sin and place your trust in Him?
“And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.” – Matthew 27:50-51
“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility.” – Ephesians 2:13-14
“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” – Hebrews 4:16
* “and such like” – for you non-Baptists out there, this phrase means “and similar things.”
Yesterday morning on my drive into work, I was listening to the news on the car radio and the story far below broke about retired Buffalo Catholic priest, the “Reverend” Norbert F. Orsolits (photo), who admitted to sexually abusing “probably dozens” of teenage boys in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Between 1966 and 2003, the Buffalo diocese reassigned Orsolitis to 12 different locations, no doubt hoping a change of venue would hush the possibility of open scandal while each time exposing a new set of children to this insatiable predator. If Orsolits is admitting to abusing “dozens” of boys, was the actual number somewhere around 50? 75? 100?
Argh! A boy growing up in Catholicism was/is like a mackerel swimming unawares in shark-infested waters.
I’ve heard Catholic apologists make the claim that pedophilia is no more prevalent among priests than other study groups. Yeah, right. Catholic sociologist, A.W. Richard Sipe, who has done extensive work on the subject, suggests that 8-10 percent of priests were/are active pedophile abusers. Sipe concludes that Catholicism’s mandatory rule of celibacy has both attracted and fostered deviancy and that Catholicism as an institution has never seriously addressed the “problem,” but rather, has enabled these serial abusers. Here’s Sipe’s article:
So, what do we have here? Oh, just another story of a pedophile priest. Some may think, “Ho-hum. What else is new?,” but the reality is that each and every one of the thousands of victims is a soul who must live with and sort through the pain of being betrayed by someone they respected and trusted. As I wade through Catholic news on a daily basis, I routinely encounter these stories of priest abuse.
Every soul needs to come out of the Roman Catholic church and accept Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone. All Bible Christians must continue to reach out to Roman Catholics with the Gospel because they do not hear it in their churches. The Catholic church’s rule of celibacy has brought horrendous emotional pain to many of its members, but the church’s false gospel of sacramental grace and merit is the broad highway to even worse consequences.
Yesterday morning, I was listening to the 1/10/18 podcast of “The Catholic Connection” talk radio show (The Station of the Cross, WLOF (Our Lady of Fatima) 101.7 FM, Buffalo, New York) with moderator, Jim Havens, and priest-host, Shannon Collins. The stated purpose of “The Catholic Connection” is to confront the current “confusion” and non-traditional doctrine within the church (e.g., just about everything that comes out of pope Francis’s mouth).
The topic for this particular show was the mandatory rule of celibacy for the priesthood. A few months ago, it was reported that pope Francis had appointed a committee to investigate the possibility of ordaining married men as priests, specifically in areas like the Amazon region of Brasil, where the ratio of church members to priests is about 10,000 to one. In opposition to Francis, Collins cited pope after pope in his argument that celibacy must be continued as an absolute rule with no exceptions. He cited the decline of vocations among Eastern Orthodox churches in the U.S., even though they allow their priests to marry. Collins warned that if an exception is made in the Amazon, it will only be a matter of time before the rule of mandatory celibacy is abolished.
Of course, we know from Scripture that some of the apostles had wives. Yes, apostle Paul encouraged those who had the gift to serve the Lord as a single person, but he did not make celibacy a mandatory rule as does Catholicism. See here.
How did obligatory celibacy get its start in the Catholic church? Some of the motivation was pure economics. In 1018, pope Benedict VIII decreed that children of married priests were barred from inheriting church property. In 1075, pope Gregory VII ruled that clerical celibacy was a requirement of the priesthood. In 1139, pope Innocent II declared the marriages of all priests to be formally annulled, mandating that celibacy be the rule for all Catholic priests going forward.
[pause for effect]
Did you catch that?
The many priests who were married at the time of Innocent’s decree were required to leave their wives and children. Contemplate that for just one moment. What could be crueler?
With God-ordained marriage forbidden to clerics, natural sexual urges were vented in sinful ways. As we know from history, the rule of celibacy was often flouted. Priests, bishops, and popes had their mistresses and it was recorded that 16th century Rome had more prostitutes per capita (six percent of the population) than any city on earth at that time.* Catholic seminaries both attracted and fostered deviancy. Studies report that homosexuality is rife in the Catholic priesthood.** The scandal of pedophile priests has rocked the church for the last twenty years, but it goes without saying that “celibate” clerical predators preyed on victims for centuries prior to the establishment of the free press and journalistic investigations.
But let’s put things in perspective. This matter of mandatory clerical celibacy is a minor one in comparison to Catholicism’s false gospel of sacramental grace and merit. Jesus Christ did away with the sacerdotal priesthood by His once-for-all sacrifice for sin on Calvary. There is no longer any need for priests and altars. Individuals may receive the free gift of salvation by repenting of their sins and accepting Jesus Christ as Savior by faith alone. That being said, Catholicism’s rule of celibacy for its clerics has been a source of unimaginable sin, torment, and shame for the millions who have taken the vow over the centuries and for their victims.
“Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.” – 1 Timothy 4:1-5
“The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife…” – 1 Timothy 3:1-2
The Vatican just announced the death of cardinal Bernard Law (photo left) at the age of 86 (see article below). Remember him? Law was the archbishop of Boston when the priest pedophile scandal was first widely reported by the press in 2002. Investigations revealed that Law and other members of the Catholic hierarchy had been involved in covering up the widespread abuse and shuffling predatory priests from parish to parish where they were able to continue to prey on countless victims. Two priests with their actual young victims are shown in the photos above next to Law.
Law resigned his position in ignominy in 2002 (although he was predictably never formally charged with a crime) and moved to Rome where “saint” pope John Paul II appointed him Archpriest of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, a largely ceremonial position with few responsibilities.
Although Catholic apologists have attempted to diffuse the pedophile priest and cover-up scandal ever since, the membership’s confidence in its leadership was shaken to the core. The church’s rule of celibacy both attracted and incubated deviancy on a large scale. The membership not only took notice of the pedophile scandal and cover-up, but they were also very aware that “father” was often of a decidedly effeminate nature.
I firmly believe the Lord marked the Catholic church with this scandal as a sign of its illegitimacy and His judgement against it. No earthly man or group of men can be our spiritual standard. Only the Lord Jesus Christ and His Word can be our standard. The Catholic church claims to revere Scripture, yet pushes it to the side in favor of its traditions and magisterium. The Lord has revealed the error of both with the pedophile priest and cover-up scandal and the Amoris Laetitia controversy in which pope Francis has abrogated “infallible” doctrine by lifting the ban on communion for remarried divorcees.
Pray for Roman Catholics, that they will hear the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone and accept Christ as their Savior.
“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “’How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’” – Romans 10:14-15
Is Bernard Law now in Hell being punished for his terrible sins? I don’t know. Perhaps he forsook works religion on his death bed, repented of his sins, and accepted Christ as his Savior by faith alone. We are all sinners and worthy of eternal punishment. Praise the Lord for salvation in Jesus Christ by faith alone and His perfect righteousness that He imputes to all those who accept Him! Accept Christ!
It’s been several months since posting a review of one of Elia Kazan’s films, so it’s time to get back on track with the director’s fifteenth and last profitable project.
Splendor in the Grass
Directed by Elia Kazan and featuring Natalie Wood, Warren Beatty, Pat Hingle, and Audrey Christie
Warner Bros., 1961, 124 minutes
After the dismal commercial failures of his three previous films (the so-called “Southern Trilogy”), Kazan turned to popular playwright, William Inge, for a box-office-friendly teenage melodrama.
Arthur “Bud” Stamper (Beatty) and Wilma Dean “Deanie” Loomis (Wood) are king and queen of their high school in 1928 Kansas and madly in love. Bud is from a wealthy family and the top jock on campus (although not a gifted student), while Deanie is from a much more modest background, but is one of the school’s most attractive and popular girls. Together, they’re an ideal couple, but must increasingly battle the temptation to become more intimate. Deanie’s materialistic mother (Christie) counsels her daughter to remain chaste because Bud is the “catch of a lifetime” and he surely wouldn’t marry a “bad girl.” In the meantime, Bud tells his Type-A-on-steroids father, Ace Stamper (Hingle), that he can no longer fight lustful temptations, so he’s determined to marry Deanie immediately after graduation and run the family ranch, but the small town oil baron insists that academically-challenged Bud go to Yale in order prepare himself to take the oil business to the next level. Bud’s scandalously immoral older sister, Ginny (Barbara Loden), has brought shame to the Stamper name and Ace hopes Bud can redeem the family’s reputation.
Recognizing that he can no longer control himself, Bud cools the relationship with “good girl,” Deanie, but lets off some steam with Juanita (Jan Norris), the school “floozy,” thereby humiliating Deanie, and sending her into an emotional breakdown. Somewhat recovered and desperate to win back her boyfriend, she forces herself on Bud, but he rejects her uncharacteristic advances. Deanie becomes so distraught, she attempts suicide. As Deanie teeters on the verge of a complete mental collapse, her doctor advises an anxious Bud to end all contact for her health’s sake.
Bud goes to Yale, but his heart isn’t in it and he’s failing all of his subjects. An Italian waitress, Angelina (Zohra Lampert), befriends him in his lovesick misery. His father visits Yale in an attempt to rally Bud, but ends up jumping from a New York City skyscraper when the stock market crash of 1929 totally destroys his business. In the meantime, Deanie is sent to a sanitarium to recover her mental and emotional stability. There, she befriends a male patient and a lukewarm romance blooms. When Deanie is released after a long, thirty-month stay, she returns home, and immediately asks to see Bud to determine if there’s any spark left in their relationship. She visits Bud on his struggling ranch and learns he’s married to Angelina, with one infant child and another on the way. Disappointed but not broken, Deanie stoically commits to going forward with her life, finding “strength in what remains behind.”
“Splendor” resonated with audiences across the country. Inge won an Oscar for his screenplay (Kazan had a large amount of input) while Wood was nominated for her performance. This was Beatty’s film debut, another notable “find” for Kazan. Hingle’s full-throttle performance is quite memorable but skirts with being “over the top.” Most of the movie was shot around New York City.
I first watched “Splendor” when I was in my early teens and was floored by the unorthodox conclusion (the attached video captures the final 3.5 minutes). Kazan stated in later interviews that the last reel was his favorite of all of his films. It certainly wasn’t a stereotypical Hollywood ending. Two characters in love are supposed to live “happily ever after,” but real life is never so orderly, which is why “Splendor” struck a chord. I remember being quite smitten with the lovely and vulnerable Deanie character, probably like many of the film’s teenage male viewers. The startling uniqueness of this film launched my decades-long study of its director.
The two DVD’s of “Splendor in the Grass” released by Warner Brothers unfortunately provide no commentary or remarkable bonus features.
Trivia alert: Screenwriter, Bill Inge, has a small role as a Protestant minister saddened by the spiritual emptiness of his church’s biggest contributor, Ace Stamper.
Additional thoughts from a Christian believer
Kazan was a Marxist atheist who rebelled against religious and societal norms of morality. Perhaps more than any of his previous films, Kazan used “Splendor” to attack “middle-class materialism” and “puritanical morality.” Antagonists Ace Stamper and Mrs. Loomis are presented as the duplicitous enemies of the pure love of their children. Bud and Deanie struggle to adhere to their parents’ hypocritical moral code, ultimately destroying their love.
“Splendor” was somewhat revolutionary in its day for its exploration of teenage sexuality, but by today’s standards it hardly raises an eyebrow. It’s interesting to note that Leftist crusader, Kazan, carried on an affair with Loden throughout the filming of “Splendor,” returning to his wife and children each evening at his comfortable estate in the tony suburb of Newtown, Connecticut. Hypocrisy?
Christians understand we cannot satisfy the ultimate moral code, the Ten Commandments. But God the Father sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the penalty for our sins on the cross. He conquered sin and death and offers eternal life and fellowship with God to all those who accept Him as Savior by faith alone. As Christians, we attempt to follow the Lord in obedience, albeit imperfectly. As a teenager, I struggled with sexual temptation. Those hormones were firing like a well-tuned 350 V-8 engine. It’s a common experience, right? These days, teens are experiencing even greater pressure to give in to temptation at an even earlier age. The Lord gave us guidelines for a reason. To protect our physical and emotional well being and the well being of others. Rampant premarital and extramarital sexuality have led to all kinds of individual and social problems. Perhaps the church would have done better to present sexuality positively, as a natural and wonderful gift of God for married couples, rather than negatively, as something dirty and not to be spoken of. After all, The Song of Solomon is in the Bible. But a person must accept Christ as Savior before they can follow Him in obedience.
Natalie Wood left her then-husband, Robert Wagner, for co-star Beatty during the filming of “Splendor,” much to the delight of Kazan, who sought emotional reality from his actors. Wood would reunite with Wagner in 1972. She died under suspicious circumstances in 1981 while on an excursion on the Wagners’ boat, the ironically-named “Splendour.” William Inge committed suicide in 1973. Beatty would go on to achieve fame mainly as Hollywood’s celebrated #1 Lothario. But now they castigate Harvey Weinstein?
After watching “Splendor,” I can remember scrambling to the library to read William Wordsworth’s “Ode on Intimations of Immortality” (1804), with the famous passage cited in the film:
Though nothing can bring back the hour Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower; We will grieve not, rather find Strength in what remains behind.
Scholars still debate whether Wordsworth (1770-1850) was a Christian. Most of his earlier poetry glorifies nature as a semi-deific force. Later poems displayed a much more orthodox Christian view. In his “Ode,” the poet admonished his readers to move forward with their lives rather than dwell in the past.
God’s Word has much to say about looking back. Believers are to focus on Christ and Christian service and not look back at the world’s temptations with desire.
“Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead” – Philippians 3:13
“All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” 1 Peter 1: 24-25
See here for more Bible verses about looking forward in Christ.
This morning, I was listening to the 10/29/13 podcast of the “Calling All Catholics” talk radio show, broadcast by The Station of the Cross (101.7 FM, Buffalo, NY), featuring priest-host, Rick Poblocki, and moderator, Mike Denz.
About half-way through the show, Trish from Buffalo called in with a concern about her 14-year-old son. The boy’s religion class had been studying a passage from the Old Testament in which God had commanded the Israelites to kill all the inhabitants, including children, of the pagan Canaanite nations they were invading. The boy was upset by the passage and asked his mother, “How could a God who is all-loving, all-merciful, and all-forgiving wipe out a whole nation,” especially the children? The mother didn’t know how to answer, so she called Rick for advice.
Priest Rick explained that when ancient peoples fought over land, they invoked the help of their deities, just as Israel invoked Yaweh. He said the Israelites attributed to God the command to attack the Canaanites and credited Him for all their victories, but that God DIDN’T ACTUALLY command the attacks. Rick went on to say that the Israelites were looking for a way to justify their aggression, so they attributed it all to the will of God. In closing, Rick stated, “So they put then on the lips of God these commands to destroy even to the point of (murdering children),” because they had mistakenly understood that to be God’s will. Trish thanked Rick for his “wise” counsel.
Believers, see anything wrong with priest Rick’s Old Testament exegesis? Yes, God DID command the Israelites through his prophet, Moses, to wipe out the pagan peoples of Canaan. Yes, even children. God is sovereign. He brings new life into the world and takes life away. 150,000 people die each day in this world; men, women, and children. It’s not pretty but that’s the reality in this fallen world. The pots cannot tell the Potter how to manage the pots. God commanded the Israelites to destroy all the Canaanites because He didn’t want them to be ensnared by pagan idolatry. As we know, the Israelites disobeyed the Lord, spared many of the pagans, and did embrace pagan idolatry. But despite the continual disobedience of Israel and its ongoing dalliance with paganism, the Lord’s plan of salvation through Jesus Christ prevailed. Praise God!
Like most Roman Catholic clerics, priest Poblocki has a very low view of Scripture. He stands on the traditions of his church, not on God’s Word. If his church’s man-made traditions and philosophies disagree with Scripture, a priest will choose his church over Scripture every time. Speaking of idolatry, just step inside a Catholic church. And speaking of murder, comparatively “enlightened” Roman Catholic prelates persecuted those outside the church right up into the 20th century. There were the crusades, the inquisitions, pogroms, forced baptisms, and murderous Catholic falangists. How does Rick explain all that to the 14-year-old?
“Woe to him who strives with him who formed him, a pot among earthen pots! Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’ or ‘Your work has no handles’? – Isaiah 45:9
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” – Matthew 24:35
I had been reading Deuteronomy 20 as part of my daily Scripture reading just yesterday, where God commands the Israelites to exterminate all the Canaanites. Coincidence? Hardly!
Postscript: Old Testament passages that deal with Israel’s fidelity to Yaweh are not dry, useless historical information, but are inspiration for Christians to also remain faithful to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and to His Gospel. But as we look around evangelicalism today, we sadly see plenty of accommodation, cooperation, compromise, and betrayal when it comes to false teachers and false gospels.