Um, if you in any way hold It’s A Wonderful Life to be sacrosanct, then perhaps it’s best if you skip the following clip. However, if you don’t mind seeing a time-honored piece of movie history get goofed on, and especially if you happen to know the original Night Of The Living Dead frame by frame, then by all means, press play and enjoy.
Seriously, do you have any idea how hard it’s going to be now to watch Capra’s Christmas classic without hearing Leslie Ryan’s voice in my head yelling out “No, Zuzu, no!”? Oh well, it’s still just a movie. Really no big deal when things are said and done.
Unfortunately, in the real world, when some mental images get tainted, they can’t be recovered from so easily. In the recent book Light Of The World, when asked to comment on the sex abuse scandals which have rocked the Catholic Church over the past decade, Pope Benedict XVI admitted, “It was really almost like the crater of a volcano, out of which suddenly a tremendous cloud of filth came, darkening and soiling everything, so that above all the priesthood suddenly seemed to be a place of shame and every priest was under the suspicion of being one like that too… It is a particularly serious sin when someone who is actually supposed to help people toward God… abuses him instead and leads him away from the Lord. As a result the faith as such becomes unbelievable, and the Church can no longer present herself credibly as the herald of the Lord.”
You see, the Pope recognizes that even though the Church has made steps to minister to and compensate the victims, as well as address the problem internally so as to eliminate as much as possible the chance of such a thing happening again, the scandal has left an indelible taint on the mental image many hold of the Catholic Church. Hell, you can’t toss a rock these days without hitting some desperately “cutting edge” comedian making pedophile priests jokes (Come back to us Dennis Leary. I’ve seen The Ref four times, so I know you can be funny sometimes.). All in all, it can get pretty disheartening for someone who holds the faith dear.
But when asked if the scandals, along with the ensuing media onslaught, ever made him consider retiring, Benedict answered simply “One can resign at a peaceful moment or when one simply cannot go on. But one must not run away from danger and say that someone else should do it… I think that whereas we must not minimize the evil and must sorrowfully acknowledge it, by the same token we must also still be grateful for how much light streams forth from the Catholic Church and should make that visible.” And as for those “who have only these negative perceptions, no longer see then the overall picture, the life of the Church. All the more reason that the Church must strive to make this vitality and greatness visible again, despite all that is negative.”
So, fair or not, that is the burden and calling of this generation of Catholics, to shine forth through the example of our daily lives in order to refocus the attention of the world on what is good and true within Christianity, so that the image the world holds of our faith is the original one put forth by Jesus and not the re-envisioned one that has resulted from the scandals. Easy? Nope. Probably not going to happen in our lifetime. But we’re the ones who have to get the ball rolling. And considering the heavy hitters on our side (God, the angels, and over 10,000 named saints), I think we’ll do okay.
It’s A Wonderful Life, on the other hand, is toast. No, Zuzu, no!