When you look at how Catholicism has been portrayed in American popular films, the spectacle and significance of Vatican II has been largely overlooked.
“It could be the greatest Catholic story ever told. Mise-en-scène, cast of thousands and sets to die for,” religious studies professor Anthony Smith said at a recent UD colloquium.
Smith and colleagues were discussing “Pulp Catholicism: Catholics in American Popular Film,” a chapter Smith is writing for The Columbia History of Catholics in America.
Movies, Smith reasons, have been an arena where Catholics have worked out their relationship with modern America, the place “where Catholic outsiders could negotiate new roles for themselves as American insiders, simultaneously performing their Catholicism and crafting stories and images that spoke to national audiences.”
Catholic images, perspectives and preoccupations in film reached their high point in the mid-20th century, when popular films provided “a new image of Catholics as part of a shared American venture of urban pluralism. Masculine but morally principled priests, endearing and caring nuns, ethnic neighborhoods where decency vied with and ultimately triumphed over criminality were all pieces of the Catholic portrait that movies arranged into a compelling picture.” The best example? Going My Way.
Last Thursday, it was “class in the grass” for Engineering 101 students in adjunct associate professor John Doty’s class.
Well, more like “class in the sky.” Students brought in their homework — rockets fashioned from pop bottles — and competed to see whose rocket would launch the highest. It was a lesson in the relationships between pressure, mass and momentum. But the ultimate goal of the lesson? “Fun,” Doty said.
Fun was also the point of a retrofitted remote control car project, in which student teams swapped bodies, wheels and gears to gain the greatest speed, agility and projectile momentum — which required students to don safety glasses for the final competition.
Back on the launch pad, Tom Wiersma, an undeclared engineering major, came in second with his Christmas-colored rocket, achieved with two empty Sprite bottles and red duct tape.
“We learned Newton’s law and had fun,” he said. “Plus we got to drink lots of pop.”
Two things were obvious this past Friday night: One, basketball is here. Well, almost. Two, Brian Gregory has been keeping his dance moves under wraps for far too long. The season kicked off Friday with a ’70s disco party in the old Fieldhouse. It was “Flyer Madness Disco Ball,” and the players did not disappoint.
They emerged on court in every conceivable kind of pop-culture shorthand for the ’70s: disco mamas, purple velvet-clad hipsters, Kung Fu fighters, you name it. Women’s coach Jim Jabir wore his best James Brown outfit, complete with cape and wig. And men’s coach Brian Gregory? Well, he has to be seen to be believed (see a Quicktime video highlight of the evening here). After changing, players re-emerged for a 3-point shooting contest and a dunk contest. (For winners, more details and photos from the UD athletics department, click here.) The annual intrasquad Red and Blue game is this Saturday, Oct. 22, at 10 a.m. in UD Arena, and it ends an hour before the football team kicks off against Valpo next door at Welcome Stadium.