NEWSLETTER before Easter

We rapidly advance towards Easter. Last weekend we had our adoration evening hich was a very positive occasion I think. Br Arnfinn from Oslo talked with us on A Christian Life, and what he is saying is a great challange, and also controversial in some aspects. We are, he said, not all proud over our Christian faith, even to the point of selfdenial. And it is time to take our faith seriously, to believe in the gifts given in baptism and confirmation. It is possible to make a difference, possible to live faith, hope, charity in our world. We are not all conditioned. Though, it demands from us conversion (which is not self-accusation or rigid behaviour), and change of world-view and habit. I think the key-word of br Arnfinn is “conversion”,  that is some kind of personal commitment in following Christ.
When are we most in resemblance to Christ? It is when we have loving relations, in couple, between friends. Where we let the other one take his place and we care for each others. Our student community is all the time changing and with  many cultures gathering on the same spot. This makes it more difficult to take interest in one another. But if we could be more interested in each other, more caring, more showing loving kindness in our community, more prayers for each others, be sure the Spirit is there to support us. Do rather such things the coming weeks of Lent the occupy you with what your are eating or drinking.
Pray for Nolwenn especially, who is going to be baptized at Easter. Come to Easter vigile in Saint Thomas church at  Easter Saturday and be with her and one another on this great occasion.
Go to confession before Easter – every Tuesday at 5 pm in Saint Thomas or ask f ex br Paul -Do on Wednesday when we have Mass.
Yesterday we saw the film The White Ribbon. It questions me a lot whether such a film has its place in our program. I find it not only dark, taking up an hidden reality of cruelty, which is very much ok. But worse, there is a kind of playing with this darkness, and playing with the spectator, that perhabs has its place in what John Paul II called the culture of death. The aspects of human conditioning, humiliation and submission to dark forces are overwhelming. No way out! No way out! – it seems to cry. And we, though not subcombing to easy positive images of life – them too completely false – should we not cultivate the desire for freedom, and the most catholic claim to the realm of freedom we all are granted? Yes, showing The White Ribbon questions me. Also because it in fact also leads me to this reflection. And you, I would really like to here your voices in this matter.
yours br Björn


7 responses to “NEWSLETTER before Easter

  1. Dear Björn, fellow viewers and readers!

    I do not regard film (nor art in general) as bound to its materiality. A film is also its reactions.

    As for Michael Haneke, he clearly is a thorougly provokative director. What does he want to provoke?

    I believe a humanism is to be found in his œuvre, though inverted, as a negative to what is shown. I think Haneke says: “This is life. Change it!” There may be a way out of the dense darkness pictured, but it depends on us, the viewers, to find the light, perhaps even to lit the light.

    Haneke’s art is not easy, it does not in any way flatter its audience. But personally, I have found his cinematic knock-outs refreshing – and, in fact, morally encouraging.

  2. Hi Magnus and others, no Haneke is not easy and there are many interpretations. The film which shows a world where no true words are possible provoked, yes, words, exchange, and if you like: made me react morally.
    When I recall the discussion after the film, I rembember that I myself felt traped by the film and there was not a great exchange on conditioning and freedom. My reaction came afterwards and I found it important to give it to you. What decides what we should look at? How do we treat a materian with dense darkness like this. I don´t know. I know though, that I feel agressed by this film

    • Dear Björn!

      I will never forget viewing Funny Games for the first time. It’s a film depicting the most pointless violence. I was actively pissed-off for one week’s time. Then it hit me: This must be great artistic quality, the ability to impact me that hard for this long time!

      I think anger is a reaction Haneke wishes – an anger to good. I genuinely do believe he strives for a better world, for warmer relationships between people. His method is not ahimsa – because his experience is that ahimsa does not work. Instead he wants to provoke goodness forcefully, shake his viewers up and chock them to new insights, stress the needs of humankind. His modus operandi is indirect, antithetical. You can say he beats the ones he loves. I can only speak for myself. With Haneke I have developed a sado-masochistic relationship. I am terrified by the way he desillusions me, how he challenges and destroys beliefs and ideas I have taken for granted. Then I must repair myself, and this work makes me stronger. The light is brighter close to darkness.

      A Haneke movie does not stop with its end-notes. Then it begins. If what we have seen is a reality for some, we must change the world. In order to make a Haneke screening humanistically fruitful, I think we need to employ a dialectic response to the story told, the pictures shown. We must activate ourselves. The freedom we then feel is the lack of freedom, the need for freedom, the freedom we must create.

      A world fallen ignorant and blasé, Haneke feels he needs to force to this sensitivity and moral stand.

      Haneke tears up the void we constantly need to fill – by our own hands and minds.

      • Dear Magnus, thanks a lot for this most valuable dialogue.
        I do get your point, An artistic creation is fulfulled in the subjectivity of the viewer or listener. I see and and the work makes part of my life and is thus completed. Haneke perhabs counts on this counter reactions. The violence of this film was turned in a human exchange.
        But I experience in face this exuberant violence that I get enough.
        I don´t want it in my life.
        I don´t want it on a screen in front of me.
        I suspect it burns our my sensitivity and blocks me to genuine experiences: genuine in revealing that we are created to the image of God.
        I don´t want to be ideological about this, but love usually creates love.
        Haneke may have good intentions. But telling how things are – and I have no illusion that all of what he decribes is real for people, even partially real for us – Telling How Things Are has another word: Lucidity. Lucidity is about light and it is exactly this cold clarity that is specific for the angel of light, Lucifer.
        Clarity without love is destructive. God is dwelling in the mystery. Not everything should be shown. Not everything should be looked at.
        yours very much, br Björn

  3. Aron Vallinder

    It seems to me that much of your disagreement boils down to different aesthetic viewpoints. Magnus believes that a big emotional impact often suffices to make something a great piece of art – even when the emotions are negative or destructive. Björn, on the other hand, also requires that the work makes some progress – perhaps moral progress, for lack of a better term. Would the two of you agree with this characterization?

    If so, I find myself more aligned with Magnus than with Björn. The pointless violence of Haneke’s films has certainly enriched my life. That is not to say that I appreciate any form of depicted brutality. But when carried out in a novel manner, it can sometimes affect me in ways I had not previously experienced. And that is something I welcome.

  4. Haneke is indeed controversial. Of course, I respect taste and self-assured choices to avoid his art. Different responses are possible. Initially degraded, I then found humanistic impact from Haneke’s films. But that’s me.

    The recent years, it has been important for me to expose myself to the pain and despair many live in. I have felt this as an egalitarian responsibility, to level the human condition, to carry my part of the cross, also to learn my own evil. I have hitherto for the most part chosen the simpler way of sublimation contributed by art. This is an individual pursuit of meditation, in the course of cinemania channelled by demanding artists themselves struggling.

    A wider question is thus how we relate to evil, how we study evil, how we fight evil.

    Don’t we need to understand evil in order to be able to fight it? (Is a “non-lucid” understanding possible, to develop or to regain an intuition about good and evil?)

    A study is also a fight, within oneself, perhaps the greatest (only?) struggle.

    We can look into ourselves, integrate ourselves and meet. But what about the responsibility for my neighbour? And for mankind?

    Love is the answer but mustn’t we employ certain strategies? Love is simple but we do not live simple lives. How do we learn to detect and grasp structures that complicate and hinder love? How to practically transgress the void between individuals, besides prayer and reliance to God? How do we jump the void we feel aren’t really there?

    • How do we detect evil? How do we fight evil? Dominicans do stress the understanding and the use of intelligence to answer important questions. To “know” something is is to grasp it with the heart and with our menthal capacities. It involves experience, the “what does this tell me”, and how this experience is connected to the life in God.
      To follow Christ is to say that my life has a direction towards truth, justice, peace, beauty. It is thus making use of the personal freedom to choose the good through a conscious instructed by the word of God. The good is not always the beautiful, as we know from the story of Eve and the apple. But it contains a direction that involves the purification of the senses, the search for life,light, love. Haneke in my eyes passes the acceptable in this overwhelming showing of crime. So I am indeed a moralist in this sense.
      Does this mean we should not see films or read books with difficult human experiences? Of course not.
      A long time ago I was in difficulties and at that time I read Sartre´s Nausea, a dark book where a man lives a stong sense of meaninglessness of life. I drowned into that book and could completely identify with that man. For a long time I thought this book helped me to recover. With a more distant view I would rather say it prevented me to look for sain solutions for my life.
      Some years later, I questioned myself more deeply about the darkness and got more into contact with my own pain and weekness. It was not, though, through getting close to brutality that I could do that. Rather through a rejection of brutality, that at that time made me completely unable to to see violent films.
      I acknowledge your views,and after having talked with some of the others who saw the film I see that the reception is different. Some felt paralyzed by the brutality, others could better deal with it. The importance is that such a film, if choosen to be seen, is accompanied by words of life. For those who doesn´t find this way, it seems to be a destructive event.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s