THE movie Dogma has recently received some negative attention from some religious circles.
Fortunately, I had the opportunity to see this movie recently. In my opinion, it is nothing to be afraid of! Rather, the movie provides a very clever contemporary questioning of the meaning of religious belief systems, and particularly the perceived understanding of the Roman Catholic Church’s system of belief.
This does not mean that Dogma is a movie that will suit everyone’s taste, and the appropriate viewing category should be observed. At times the movie is difficult to take, particularly in its level of violence and some of its language. This being said, it should be noted that the violence portrayed could be considered relevant to the theme, particularly in terms of the violence perpetrated in the name of religious belief as a real part of human history.
The extreme suggestive language of one particular character in the movie might be questioned, but can be considered part of the style of exaggeration, which also runs through the movie. The latter is sometimes hard to reconcile with the overall intent of the movie. Yet, the movie does try to integrate both the reality of violence and the use of exaggeration as dimensions of a larger question: What are the consequences of belief and unbelief?
Dogma is not simply a violent movie, nor is it pornographic, as has been suggested.
Importantly, the movie Dogma presents a challenge to, not only what we believe, but as stated above to the consequences of belief. What have people done, what do people continue to do in the name of religions and their attendant belief systems. The movie does hold on to the reality of faith in God. But it also presents a challenge to how faith in God is and has been expressed in human history, particularly by the Church. The movie presents this challenge with humour, exaggeration and an attitude of confrontation.
As I saw Dogma, I was reminded that it is not easy to see ourselves as believers when the exaggerated consequences of belief are turned to confront us. This is not always pleasant. But neither is what people have at times done to each other in the name of religious belief systems at times throughout human history.
The above is neither a recommendation to see or not see the movie. Rather, from my perspective, it is to take it for what I consider it to be, a contemporary questioning of how people believe in God. In these terms the movie is nothing to fear, rather, its challenge is to present believers with the opportunity to offer a credible response. That is, something more than a knee-jerk reaction to ban the movie!
FR DAVID PASCOE Banyo Seminary Banyo, Qld