The Stone City

Words Made to Last

Friday, January 14, 2005

Salvation by Faith

[Contains spoilers for the movie Antonia. This was meant as part of a post on people seeking personal validation through lawsuits, but it has moved off that topic.]

Antonia is probably the worst movie I have ever seen. It combines utter lack of intellectual honesty, ham-fisted artistic taste, sentimental composition and editing, and a cookbook mixture of standard hard times and lame escapism. Amazingly, I watched all the way to the end of it, so I got to find out what happened to the priest.

You know the priest, even if you haven't seen the movie: he is hopelessly repressed by the Church, and has sex with an underage virgin in the confessional. For the happy ending, he leaves the Church, marries the girl, and becomes a social worker. Now he is happy. He has been saved!

Thinking on this little story, two things come clear. The first is that the State is considered by the writers as a drop-in replacement for the Church. He was in the wrong, and now he is in the right, simply by switching employers.

The second point is that this is the purest kind of salvation by faith. If a man is a lecherous hypocrite in one role, it is not his own fault but that of the Church he made the mistake of serving. With no internal change nor even penance, he attains (worldly) salvation. He is offered the highest nirvana the writers can conceive -- cheerful contentedness on Earth -- simply for embracing the True Faith.