By ARCHBISHOP WILTON D. GREGORY, Commentary | Published March 9, 2018 | En Español
Another year and I have once again failed to see any of the current Oscar-nominated films. I don’t know very much about any of the actresses or actors who were nominated for their starring roles. So as the Academy Awards were handed out this past weekend, I probably wouldn’t have recognized the names in the envelopes—even if they announced names from the wrong envelope in a particular category. I must be a pretty boring bishop—if not an uninformed American—not to have a good grasp on the exciting news that surrounds the Academy Awards.
It’s not that I dislike Hollywood or its celebrities. It’s just that the media has so much information—much of it somber and troubling—that I am more persuaded to pay attention to the issues that impact our real lives: the senseless shooting deaths of kids in schools, the brutal persecution of religious minorities, the state of poor people in this rich land of plenty, the plight of deteriorating race relations in our own country, the political turmoil in just about every corner of the globe. These and countless other serious issues generally crowd out the hoopla that surrounds the Oscars from my attention, and maybe yours, too.
Hollywood after all is all about make-believe. It fashions drama, adventure, intrigue, comedy and horror into an entertaining context so that by watching movies we can forget about the real life challenges that we may face each day. Its intent is to allow us to laugh, to cry and to gasp at actors and actresses portraying fantasy or historical adventures. Movies should take our minds off the tragedy and comedy of real life. The beautiful and talented Hollywood men and women intend to entertain their audiences. Moreover, we all need to step back from the burdens of everyday life—the very same goal of the ancient Greek dramas and the masterpieces of William Shakespeare.
I too need to step out of my ordinary routine for some healthy diversion. However, above all, we need to find ways to believe and to trust that our real lives have an ultimate purpose and meaning.
As people of faith in the midst of our Lenten journey, we look forward to the Easter mystery wherein the Passion, death and resurrection of the Lord is not make-believe but the ritualized drama of truth that does not seek to entertain but to transform because it actually saves us all from the confusion, fears and drama that we face in our real-world lives. This cherished season usually comes around the same time as the Academy Awards.
One of the youngsters who I confirmed last week asked me what was my favorite television program. When I told her that I generally don’t follow any of the current television programs, she looked at me in stark disbelief. Movies and television programs have such powerful influence in the lives of our kids—and not always for the good.
In a couple of weeks, the Church will once again reenact our ritual sacred treasures that bring salvation history into our lives again. Fire, wax, darkness, water, oil and music will be used to take us once again into the paschal mystery whereby we are saved. Our sacramental life is not make-believe or entertainment but an open opportunity for us to enter into the reality of God’s own life that he willingly seeks to share with us—surely an award far more important than a coveted statue.