A piece of chalk scraped across a blackboard. The scream of a kindergarten girl piercing the chatter of kids in a school yard playing catch-me-if-you-can. They both make me cringe. So do most movies about religion. Which brings me to “Father Stu.”
I haven’t seen it yet but I suppose I will. From “The Bells of St. Mary’s” and “The Nuns Story” to “The Shoes of the Fisherman” I’ve been disappointed by films dealing with religious experience of Catholics. I will just mention “The Exorcist” and “Spotlight.”
Maybe its simply impossible to show authentic religious experience when it costs you money to see it. Holiness for sale. With buttered popcorn and a Diet Coke. “Father Stu” for sale.
However, film is made for stories. Movies should somehow pick up on individuals with spiritual experiences, especially conversion stories. But you can’t tell these stories without describing the suffering that goes with them. Love God and you are going to suffer. Or, do you want to try to answer the question that a man casually tossed my way when he said,” Do you think that God will ever make a human being that can’t suffer?” The scene was a packed E.R. The middle-aged man who spoke was trying to comfort his withered aged mother groaning from a wheel chair. I’m not sure whom he meant to ask about, his mother or himself. Suffering as redemption does not transfer well to film, though I hear “Father Stu” tries hard to do it.
Mark Wahlberg is Father Stu, an irreligious ex-boxer who converts and eventually becomes a Catholic priest. He suffers a horrific motorcycle accident and finally dies of an obscure disease characterized by muscle deterioration. He dies just after his ordination, a shadow of himself but an inspiration to everyone who met him.
So, I’ll go see “Father Stu” but not soon. I guess I don’t want to be disappointed again. If I wait a while, maybe I’ll mature enough to see it.