The blog of the Dominican student brothers at Blackfriars, Oxford.

Built on the four pillars of our Dominican life – preaching, prayer, study, and community – Godzdogz offers many resources for exploring the Catholic Faith today.
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Las Casas Lecture by Jean-Jacques Perennes OP - "the message of the martyrs of Algeria", and a reflection on the film Of Gods and Men

Thursday, December 12, 2013
Witness of the Gospel in a world of violence: the message of the martyrs of Algeria Read more

What would St Thomas make of Pleasantville?

Monday, January 30, 2012
I recently saw the film Pleasantville for the first time. It's about two 1990's teenagers, David and Jennifer, who are magically transported into a 1950's sitcom called Pleasantville where they are forced to play the characters Bud and Mary Sue. In Pleasantville, everyone is pleasant to each other, it never rains, and the school basketball team never lose a game. But there's a catch. Pleasantville is very dull. It's literally in black and white. There's no art, no books, no sex, no creativity. That is, until David (Bud) and Jennifer (Mary Sue) are transported into this world.

Now the film has some very positive aspects. The film is beautifully made; as colour, joy and passion comes into this world, it really draws our attention to the beauty of creation, and to how we so often fail to recognise this beauty. Surely St Thomas would appreciate this aspect of the film. But what I think St Thomas would strongly object to is the attempt to retell the Adam and Eve story. Before David (Bud) and Jennifer (Mary Sue) were transported into Pleasantville, it was an ordered world of innocence, dull but nice. There are enough hints to suggest that this is how we are to think of the Garden of Eden.

At one point, a beautiful girl offers Bud (David) a nice red apple, and it is at this moment he realises that all this beauty and colour that is beginning to come into this world cannot coexist without evil. What is happening is a kind of felix culpa, a happy fault. Now for St Thomas, this retelling of the Genesis story just wouldn't hang together. St Thomas believed that before the Fall, the garden would have been very beautiful, Adam and Eve would have had passions, they would have had sex, and in fact, their joy and appreciation of creation would have been much more intense than it is now:
sensible delight would have been the greater in proportion to the greater purity of nature and the greater sensibility of the body (ST 1a,q98 a.2)
When this foreign element of sin came into their world, it dulled their senses, they became repressed and the world became a less delightful place. The Fall of Man wasn't a happy fault because it brought colour into our world, but because it merited such and so great a Redeemer. Read more

Film Review: Black Swan

Saturday, February 26, 2011
With the Academy Awards coming up, Godzdogz will be having a look at some of films that have been nominated. Read more

Film Review: True Grit (2010)

Thursday, February 24, 2011
With the Academy Awards coming up, Godzdogz will be having a look at some of films that have been nominated. Read more

Movie Review: Love and Other Drugs

Wednesday, January 12, 2011
'Love and Other Drugs', which is currently screening in the cinemas, is a film starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway, and directed by Edward Zwick. If it has to be classified in a certain genre, then one might call it a 'romantic comedy', or even a "comedy romance drama" as one Catholic reviewer put it. However, nothing in the trailer, or its classification as a romantic comedy, prepared me for the satire and portrayal of true love that underlies the more superficial aspects of the movie. But having read a number of reviews concerning this movie, it would appear that it is precisely the latter that has drawn the most attention. And this is not surprising since the movie does have a considerable amount of on-screen sex, and the film does not shy from nudity. But I am dismayed that major Catholic reviews have also been so preoccupied by the nudity and casual sex, and other acts which are "morally offensive" that they fail to highlight the good, and the moral journey that is embedded in the movie. The aim of this review is to offer what I hope is a more positive take on the movie's moral merit, and if you don't want to read any spoilers, I recommend you stop reading now, watch the movie, and then come back to this afterwards! Read more

Film Review: The Social Network

Friday, November 26, 2010
Facebook is certainly one of the main social and cultural markers of the early twenty-first century. It is therefore no surprise that its creation and turbulent early expansion have been adapted for the big screen. Penned by Aaron Sorkin, of West Wing and A Few Good Men fame, the film charts Harvard Student Mark Zuckerberg's creation of Facebook and the backdraft of hedonism, litigation and broken friendship that followed, in a medley of fast-paced  and memorable dialogue. Read more

Film Review: Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

Sunday, September 12, 2010
It might seem strange that I would want to review Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World. This hipster homage to 8-bit gaming might not seem the obvious subject matter for a Godzdogz post However I think that in some respects the film has an interesting message that contains some Christian symbolism (though not necessarily intended). Read more

Film Review: A Serious Man

Thursday, January 21, 2010
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Film Review: Die Grosse Stille (Into Great Silence)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007
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