Somebody thought The Passion needed a sequel, and not merely in the theological sense. What's more, somebody thought that Tim LaHaye, coauthor of those uber-bestselling successful Left Behind comic books, was the man to produce it. And so he shall. The movie is tentatively entitled, you guessed it, The Resurrection. The screenwriter is Lionel Cheswynd, whose penmanship credits include The Hanoi Hilton, Kissinger and Nixon, and P.T. Barnum. Sony is the studiothe same studio that brought you The Da Vinci Code. It's set to be released Easter-ish 2007. This is the most frightening news I've heard since Sylvester Stallone announced he was making Rambo IV.
On a more positive note: New Line Cinema, which has brought to the Big Screen such inspirational films as Birth, Dogma, and Nightmare on Elm Street 6: Freddie's Dead (full disclosure: I cried like a baby during that one . . . Freddie . . . Freddie!), is preparing a Christmas release for The Nativity, a depiction of the life of Joseph and Mary at the time of Jesus' birth. Mark Moring, writing for Christianity Today, calls the script "faithful and reverent to the Gospel accounts." What's next? Elm Street 7: Freddie vs. the Jansenists? Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Leatherface Joins the Vincentians?
In case you don't subscribe to Trailers on Demand from your local cable service, another Superman movie is set to be released this summer, for reasons that elude everyone. What's of passing interest, though, is that some people think Superman is really about Jesus, which would have come as a great surprise to Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster, Superman's creators, both of whom were Jewish. I know there's a long history of baptizing things not-Christian so that they can be embraced by Christians without fear of apostasy, blasphemy, idolatry, sorcery, and a whole host of other "-y" things. But before this gets completely out of hand: Iphigenianot Jesus. Neo in The Matrixnot Jesus. Harry Potternot Jesus. Garfieldnot Jesus. Aslan of Narnia . . . All right, you got me on that one. For a fascinating exploration of what some people think they see in works of literature that no one else seems to see, Alan Jacobs has written "The Code Breakers," an opinion piece that will grace the pages of First Things' Aug/Sept. issue, available in July. (I'm only telling you now so that those of you deprived of a subscription can break out the chaise longues in front of those Barnes & Noble magazine racks to make sure you're first in line to grab one. But be niceno pushing!)
Those list makers are at it again. The American Film Institute has named its most inspirational films of all time. And the winner is . . . It's a Wonderful Life. No. 2 was To Kill a Mockingbird. No. 3 was Schindler's List. No. 60 was The Killing Fields and No. 89 was Harold and Maude.
Oh-h-ka-a-a-a-y . . . Just what I want to pop into the ole DVD player when I'm feelin' downThe Killing Fields. Yeah, perks me right up. And Harold and Maude? I guess you have to be either very young or very old to get that one. Or maybe just very twisted. Just outside the list, at No. 101, was Eraserhead. (All right, I made that one up.)
Forbes has long been in the list-making business, and they've just published their catalog of the 100 Most Influential Celebrities. No. 1 is Tom Cruise, with The Rolling Stones, Oprah Winfrey, U2, Tiger Woods, Steven Spielberg, Howard Stern, 50 Cent, the cast of The Sopranos, and fabulist Dan Brown comprising the balance of the top 10. You just want to bury this list in a time capsule outside a mall somewhere and wait for Americans in 2106 to unearth it. What will they think? I know: "Where did we park the yogurt-powered jet-mobile? I thought it was E9 . . . What's this? '100 Most Influential Celebrities' . . . hmm. . . Oh, come on! Oprah again?"
And now for some serious entertainment news: The winners of the recent Webby awards were limited to a mere five words in their acceptance speeches. Now, why First Things' website was not even nominated has our staff flabbergasted. Some might say it's because of this: As Fox News.com reported, after Mother Jones picked up its award with the teary-jerky sentiment "Liberals have mojo . . . we win!" the host "asked the crowd if there were any conservatives in the audience at all. One person applauded."
Nah. I don't buy that conspiracy-theory stuff. (Did I mention that Alan Jacobs will have a rather provocative opinion piece in the Aug/Sept. issue of First Things, in which he addresses conspiracy theories, at least as they pertain to literary texts? I did? Well, no need to be rude.) I think it's because none of the First Things staff is remotely capable of keeping an acceptance speech to five words. Then again: "Communism's dead, and you're welcome." Or how about "Gore is still a bore." Or "Your miserable materialist agenda lays waste body and soul, you misanthropic atheist jackanapes." See . . . it's pointless . . .
In addition to which:
Father Richard John Neuhaus will be among the speakers in Philadelphia next Saturday and Sunday at the EWTN 25th Anniversary Family Celebration. He will be speaking 9:30 to 10:30 Saturday morning at the Liacouras Center of Temple University, and will be a guest, along with Peggy Noonan, for a live version of Raymond Arroyo's television program, The World Over, that evening. He will also be signing his new book, Catholic Matters. He says he would be very glad to see you there.
Of course we must work, and work assiduously, for better understanding of Islam and with Islam. But that better understanding begins with a relentlessly honest appreciation of the obstacles to anything like peaceful coexistence. Helping us to make that beginning is the great contribution of "Islam and Us" by George Cardinal Pell, Archbishop of Sydney, Australia. "Islam and Us" is among the compelling and informative articles in the June/July issue of First Things. Isn't it time for you to subscribe to First Things?