Via Media

Via Media

Coming Attractions:

1. The Compendium of the Catechism – "late 2005"

2. Remember that BBC series "The Monastery?" People who saw it, raved – said it was respectful and even profound. Unfortunately, it was never shown on BBCAmerica – I wrote and asked at the time and they said they had no plans to show it. It’s being repeated in England, starting 9/15.

But that’s not the point. The point is that apparently TLC has contracted to do an American version. 6 episodes instead of 3. I can hope it will be good, but I can’t help but think it will be dreadful. I mean, look at what the US does to British imports of late: The Office…even What Not To Wear. The US version is unwatchable, and not something that I would watch anyway. The British version is watchable, even though it’s still not something that I would watch anyway. Now that’s an accomplishment.

No word yet on which monastery will be featured…

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T. Chan

posted September 9, 2005 at 10:43 pm

Amazon shows a late October release date for the Compendium.

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posted September 9, 2005 at 10:59 pm

In case the TLC program is unwatchable, you can buy this wonderful documentary about Gethsemani that was on the local public television channel (KET) when I was living in Kentucky. It was a beautifully done “year-in-the-life” of the monestary, beginning and ending with Easter Vigil Mass. There are so many incredible scenes in the film, inlcuding the Easter Vigil Mass, a look at their candy-making industry, and a powerful, tear-jerking look at the monestary’s wake and funeral rituals. It made me cry. If you go to the monestary now on a “group tour” they show an edited version of the film.

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posted September 10, 2005 at 1:07 am

The British one was definitely brilliant. I will be buying it for sure if they release it on a Region 1 DVD.
An American version of the show will so much depend on just what monastery they decide to use. I shudder to think about some possibilities.

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Jay Anderson

posted September 10, 2005 at 1:24 am

“It’s being repeated in England, starting 9/15″
Cool. My family is leaving for England on Sept. 15th for a 2-week visit. Maybe I’ll get to catch an episode or two.

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posted September 10, 2005 at 2:51 am

This Compendium should prove interesting – will it not put out of business a whole slew of catechetical text authors whose books, intended for use in RCIA, CCD, and RelEd classes generally, were supposed to make the teachings of the CCC accessible to a wider audience (I’m using one now in the RCIA class I teach)?
Probably not, I imagine. There will always be parishes that prefer a particular catechism book that “popularizes” the CCC because it spins the CCC in the direction they want. I’ve seen a few of these.
Still, when this Compendium comes out I plan to use it alongside the CCC in my classes.

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Gen X Revert

posted September 10, 2005 at 6:53 am

The St. Vincent Archabbey in Latrobe, PA would be a nice location. It is big enough to have a variety of monks “featured” and I am sure they have a diverse personality range in the monastery, which I am sure would be good for tv purposes. I would like to see them use the local Marianists on Long Island, the Meribah province, who are not monks but follow the same rule.

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tony c

posted September 10, 2005 at 8:36 am

Are you folks familiar with documentary maker Frederick Wisewan?
His style is just to shoot tons of footage and then edit it down. Often his films are long. His most famous is Titticut Follies, which was about an old mental hospital near Boston.
He did one called “Essene” filmed in the early 70’s in black and white. It’s one of his shorter works. Filmed at a Benedictine monastery, can’t remember which.
The Museum in Boston did a festival of his works a few years back. That’s when I saw it.

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tony c

posted September 10, 2005 at 8:40 am

What I neglected to mention about Wiseman is that he does no voice-overs. He lets the action tell the story. Lots of long scenes.
PSB shows his stuff from time to time.

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posted September 10, 2005 at 9:18 am

Maybe they’ll put Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie in a monastery for six weeks and see what kind of crazy hijinks ensue when wealth and privilege meet obedience, chastity and poverty!

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Grant Gallicho

posted September 10, 2005 at 9:49 am

Hey! The Steve Carrell “Office” is great!

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posted September 10, 2005 at 11:34 am

A further clarification of what T. Chan has said (from Amazon):
Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Hardcover)
List Price: $24.95
Price: $24.95
Availability: This title will be released on October 20, 2005.
The paperback version has same release date.
Moreover the statment posted by Amy as a release date of end of August so the Amazon date is probably more accurate than “late 2005″.
I’m surprised there isn’t any discount from Amazon.

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posted September 10, 2005 at 2:06 pm

Actually, I find the US version of What Not To Wear much more watchable then the UK version, which to me is quite rushed. Trinny and Suzannah are much more brutal than Stacey and Clinton.
I admit, though, that I TiVO the show and fast forward through all the commercials and the extended “surprise the victim” junk at the beginning. If I had to sit through all of that, I might not watch it all the time.
But I do find the program to be uniformly uplifting, as each “victim” learns who she really is. I’ve seen at least one episode where Trinny and Suzannah failed to convert their subject, she went right back to her 1970’s hair and makeup, and wearing her daughter’s clothes — it was tragic. The conversions — the belief in the worth of self — seem more complete in the US version. AT first glance it seems to be show about everything superficial, but in reality it is about counting yourself worthy. I like it.
So maybe the TLC version of “The Monastery” wont’ be so bad…

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posted September 10, 2005 at 3:25 pm

I agree that it will depend on the monastery they choose. Some likely choices would be a great disaster (a very large monastery in the state of Minnesota). Others would be interesting, but I can’t imagine them putting up with a camera crew for months (like Christ in the Desert or some Trappists houses). I would nominate a good Swiss-American Benedictine monastery like Conception in Missouri (where I heard they are getting vocations after the awful murders) or Mt. Angel in Oregon, New Melleray or Spencer among the Trappists, or–why not–St. Benoit du lac in Quebec or Clear Creek among the North American monasteries of the Congregation of Solesmes. If they go with an English Benedictine house like Worth, for heaven’s sake, go wtih St. Louis Abbey, where there is a strong abbot, a commitment to observance, and VOCATIONS. Unfortunately, the one of the best choices–Petersham–would work better for women, since there is a larger women’s community in the double monastery.

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posted September 10, 2005 at 4:33 pm

I second: The Office in U.S. is a scream. I have laughed myself into hysterics or squirmed in extreme discomfort (in a good way) during every episode.

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posted September 10, 2005 at 6:51 pm

Hmmm…I’d much rather get my own body to a monastery for a visit than watch somebody else on television.

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posted September 10, 2005 at 6:59 pm

I’m with Grant and mtk about the Amercian “Office.” The espisode on Diversity is a scream. I’m hoping they renew the series for fall. I’ve ordered the British “Office” from Netflix and I look forward to watching it too. Speaking of irreverant British comedy, how about “The Vicar of Dibly?” Now, I know it offends many of our theological sensibilities, but I can’t help laughing at Geraldine, Alice (her clueless assistant) and the church council is priceless. I probably shouldn’t be admitting that I watch it on a Catholic blog.

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posted September 10, 2005 at 7:04 pm

I know this is not what this post is about, but… I have to agree with Joan about “What Not to Wear”. I think the US version of “What Not to Wear” is far better than the original UK version. Trinny and Susannah aren’t more brutal than Stacy and Clinton; they are sometimes just plain mean and nasty to the people on their show. Stacy and Clinton never criticize the person they only criticize the clothing. Maybe the show is somewhat superficial, but I’d take fashion advice from Stacy and Clinton before I’d take it from Trinny and Susannah. Most of the time I think they are the ones who need a fashion makeover.

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Fr. Totton

posted September 10, 2005 at 9:05 pm

$24.95 for the Compendium to the Catechism? The Catechism itself is not that expensive! I was told Oct 1 by a chancery official in my diocese, but we shall see! I would really like to use it for RCIA, if it is worth its salt.
I am impressed with Socius’ familiarity with all these many stateside monasteries. I still have not seen the original version of the Monastery (I have never been to GB) but I am sure that it was a hit because of the happy pairing of the individuals with just the right Abbey! Clear Creek would be nice, but I don’t think A&E would choose it on the basis of aesthetic (rather than ascetic) considerations. The monastery is truly beautiful (the liturgy is truly otherworldly, the determination of the monks and their gritty perseverance and unshakeable trust in God’s providence is the stuff which provides the foundation of a great Abbey – and I believe it truly will be such one day, but TV producers are probably more concerned with the external beauty of a dramatic backdrop provided by century old gothic or romanesque brick and stone cloisters where the whiff of incense is prevalent onscreen! – all this, thankfully, disqualifies a certain large Cassinese-American House in Minnesota. Finally, as an alumnus of the seminary at Conception, I too am impressed with the increase in vocations they have seen in recent years (since the shooting spree) God bless them, may they increase ever more.

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posted September 10, 2005 at 10:04 pm

St. Vincent Archabbey? Wealth and privilege meet chastity and poverty? Sounds like the annual Steelers training camp!

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posted September 10, 2005 at 10:09 pm

That procedure on UK WNTW in which the candidates are winnowed down is a heartless piece of TV. By showing up, these women are admitting publicly that they dress badly — and then the show rejects most of them, adding insult to injury! And the results? While the winners are improved, even some of them still need a makeover after their makeover.

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posted September 10, 2005 at 10:18 pm

Pace Fr. Totten’s experience, the USCC did price their hardcover Catechism at $24.95 and now has it even higher.

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posted September 11, 2005 at 1:03 am

Tony C
Wiseman did a film about a monastery? that would be worth seeing. I remember his brilliant film about a welfare office back in the ’70s.

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posted September 11, 2005 at 8:24 am

They were on our backs for weeks to do it here. We said, “GO AWAY!” nicely, of course but they were rather forceful and finally the prioress got equally forceful. We had no desire to have our enclosure invaded by reality TV…whatever that is.
Someone needs to give a course on “How to take NO for an answer.!”

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posted September 12, 2005 at 1:07 pm

I remember that Wiseman documentary, one good things those 70’s hip nuns did do for me. Just don’t watch his doc “Meat” unless you have a strong stomach.
I would love to a participant in this!

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apey loo

posted September 13, 2005 at 9:58 am

How about the WORST American adaptation ever — the version of Fawlty Towers starring John Laroquette? Lord, that was bad. I pray our TV execs will stay away from Geraldine and the good people of Dibley forever.
And I just wanted to say about the American “Office” — I LOVED Rick Gervais and the original, but I think when the US version diverged from the UK scripts it was hilarious. I especially appreciated how the characters did not try to act the same as their UK counterpoints. And who doesn’t appreciate the genius of Steve Correll?
As for What Not to Wear — I ADORE Trinny and Susannah because they NEVER criticize someone else without using themselves as the examples of what is wrong. Saggy tits, flabby belly, thick ankles — they always share their own bad parts first and are always the only models in their books. Stacy and Clinton are ridiculous, self-righteous posers,in my mind. I detest the US version of style gurus transmuting style advice from above without ever admitting that it could apply to them, too… Ugh

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