Faith and culture

Still from Disney's Bolt
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earthMeekness doesn’t necessarily sound like something to which many people would aspire, says Edel McClean, but perhaps that’s because we’re thinking about it in the wrong way. It’s not about weakness, but about ‘a discerned and appropriate use of power’, and who better to demonstrate this than…a cartoon dog who thinks he’s a superhero?! We add Disney’s Bolt to our Beatitudes on Film series...
Still from Despicable Me
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.The Minions are dominating the box office at the moment, and the film in which we first met them has a lot to teach us about how to be peacemakers, says Megan Barzaq. St Augustine tells us that ‘the children of God are peacemakers’ – how do the children of Gru in Despicable Me help us to make sense of this idea? The word ‘peacemakers’ generally brings to mind images that we are sadly...
Still from E.T.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filledOur next Beatitude on Film is found in a true classic: Steven Spielberg’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.  Pardon the pun, but the way in which it speaks to the alienation that many children feel can help them to understand what it means to hunger and thirst for righteousness, says Tim Byron SJ. This is a beautiful Beatitude for children, who are unsullied by the cynicism of the adult world. ...
Still from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heavenPersecution, righteousness and the kingdom of heaven can all be difficult concepts for children to grasp, but there is a familiar figure who can help them to understand this Beatitude: Harry Potter! Jane Hellings finds our next Beatitude on Film as she describes Harry and Dumbledore’s quest to find the horcruxes in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince as a pursuit of righteousness....
Frozen
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.Our series on children’s films wouldn’t be complete without the highest-grossing animation of all time – if you haven’t seen Frozen, where have you been?! Frances Murphy thinks that Anna and Elsa’s story illustrates our next Beatitude on Film and is also the perfect tool to introduce its captive young audience to Ignatian discernment. This is not the only Beatitude to have its wisdom somewhat clouded with...
Big Hero 6
 Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.Not only did Big Hero 6 win the 2015 Oscar for Best Animated Feature, but it also won the admiration of Eric Hanna SJ, who sees the film as an illustration of how mercy is both shown and received. As such, it’s a perfect addition to our Beatitudes on Film series. How can Hiro’s story encourage children to be merciful and to recognise when mercy is shown to them, by God and by others? The Lord is gracious and merciful,...
Up (Disney Pixar, 2009)
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.In the depths of grief, it can be difficult to imagine the comfort promised in the second Beatitude. But through the tears that inevitably flow during any viewing of a recent Oscar-winner, John Quinn finds an animated illustration of the solace offered to those who mourn and of the response that is required.  Make sure you have tissues at the ready, because we find our next Beatitude on Film for children in Up. There are times...
Charlie with the Golden Ticket
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.In a new series, we will be exploring the Beatitudes through the medium of children’s films. We’ve chosen eight films – from classics to recent award-winners – through which school-age children can gain a better understanding of each of the eight blessings imparted by Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel.  In this first article, we take a trip with Charlie and his golden ticket around Willy Wonka’s...
Photo of Elton John by Enigma63 at flickr.com
Elton John has been sharply critical of recent comments about family life made by fashion designers Dolce & Gabbana. The musician's campaign to boycott the clothing label has since generated a media storm. The whole affair is an example of a worrying new phenomenon of digital puritanism, says Tim Byron SJ.  What would St Ignatius have to say about the vitriol that has been on display this week? Multimillionaire fashion designers Dolce & Gabbana gave an interview last week...
'Iñigo' at the White Bear Theatre
James Hanvey SJ found himself captivated by ‘Iñigo’, Jonathan Moore’s new play about the life of St Ignatius, now on stage at London’s White Bear Theatre. This intelligent production explores ‘that strange asymmetry between the life and the achievement’ of Ignatius, and in doing so it issues the audience with a subtle invitation to participate in the drama of divine presence. The history of the Society of Jesus is filled with drama. The innovative form...

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