Sunday, February 23, 2014


It looks like The Lego Movie will continue to dominate the box office this weekend, but if you’ve already seen that and are looking for something new, there’s always Pompeii which I reviewed for Aleteia this week. It’s a pretty average sword and sandal flick, probably not something you’ll want to pay full price to see. Maybe part of the movie’s problem (beyond the horrible script, I mean) is that we’ve seen this kind of total destruction played out again and again on screens over the past few years. Hollywood needs to figure out audiences want a little more than just seeing another CGI city get wrecked.

What they really needed to do was take a look at all those old peplum flicks from Italy to see how to do this kind of thing the right way. Most all of those movies had awful scripts too, but they made up for it by managing to give you something memorable each time around. Mole men, vampires, rubber monsters… heck, even Zorro inexplicably showed up in one film. You could always count on a peplum to give you something weird. Take this moment from Ulysses Against the Son of Hercules, for example. I can’t think of anything from Pompeii that sticks in my mind the way this one of a kind cinematic moment does…

For me, it’s the expressions on the faces of the leads that really make the scene. It almost looks like nobody told the two leads what was going to happen before they started filming, so when the chicken people show up, they don’t have a clue as to what they’re supposed to do. It also kind of reminds me of the expressions a lot of us here in the States get whenever we see liturgical dancing.

Ah, good ole liturgical dancing. We make fun of it a lot around these parts because, well, it’s liturgical dancing. But aside from the mostly well intentioned, but undeniably cringe-inducing goofiness of the activity (your opinion may vary), there’s also the fact that the 1975 document published by the Vatican's Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship entitled Dance in the Liturgy declared most, if not all, liturgical dancing to be inappropriate for masses in the West. The document states…

“Here dancing is tied with love, with diversion, with profaneness, with unbridling of the senses… For that reason it cannot be introduced into liturgical celebrations of any kind whatever: That would be to inject into the liturgy one of the most desacralized and desacralizing elements, and so it would be equivalent to creating an atmosphere of profaneness which would easily recall to those present and to the participants in the celebration worldly places and situations… Neither can acceptance be had of the proposal to introduce into the liturgy the so-called artistic ballet because there would be presentation here also of a spectacle at which [only] one would assist, while in the liturgy one of the norms from which one cannot prescind is that of participation [by all].”

Basically, because dancing in the West is typically a hey-look-at-me kind of personal expression rather than a communal act of worship by a congregation, the Church says it shouldn’t be allowed during the mass where the focus should be on God only. Now the same document does also acknowledge certain forms of “rhythmic swaying and dance movements on the part of the participants” among some peoples as entirely appropriate due to their religious cultural heritage, but the exceptions are generally relegated to those in Africa and Asia (i.e. the Ethiopian rite).

So, if you’ve just got to dance before the Lord, that’s fine, but instead of trying to shoehorn it into the mass, why not do it the way King David did, stripped down to his ceremonial underwear OUTSIDE the sanctuary. The Church is perfectly fine with that.


Rocket Scientist said...

Very painful description of Liturgical dancing. Our parish priest, with a hilarious straight face, told the nuns next door that, yes, they could do liturgical dancing, if it were done in the choir loft. For two weeks when our Gregorian Chant choir showed up, the choir loft was cleared for dancing. But they eventually gave up.
I have to say that I loved the "Sons of Hercules" song.

EegahInc said...

See, that's another thing Pompeii was missing, a catchy theme song. They just don't know how to make'em these days.

Rocket Scientist said...

Yes I still love the Green Slime theme song. Where are all the "ahem" talented musicians these days?