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The Teaching Creche

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​Advent and Joy

Posted by Anthony Coticelli on

This morning, I got caught up watching the 1959 film, “Journey to the Center of the Earth.” It is a powerful childhood Christmas memory for me, since it was released in New York City on December 16th. I saw on the big screen. It has been running in the background of my life ever since. I may have seen it thirty times or more.
Today I watched the film as though for the first time. The repartee between Professor Lindenbrook (James Mason) and Carla Goteborg (Arlene Dahl) is so entertaining, not because it is “dated”, but because it was an elegant battle of the sexes. Guess who wins. She insists on being part of the expedition in exchange for the use of her late husband’s spelunking equipment. Professor Lindenbrook busts a gasket, but reluctantly agrees. Alec McEwan (Pat Boone) and Jenny Linderbrook (Diane Baker) play the late 50’s lovebirds to the hilt.Then, there is the scene in the underground where the bad guy is disarmed. Professor Lindenbrook, insists that the members of the expedition hold court for the bad guy, since he has killed a rival scientist and attempted to kill them. In the climactic scene, the surviving members of the party pray the God will deliver them. A throwback Advent Saturday if ever there was one.
The “science” of course, is fiction. Any dinosaurs living close to the center of the earth would be sautéed. Gentlemen dressed in a collared shirt, a tie and a three-piece tweed suit might make it one hundred feet below the surface before they would drop dead of sweat. The epistemologists would laugh. 
But the metaphysicians, thank God, would go deeper. Even in the bowels of the earth, the rule of law, reason, order must be upheld. We see that love and affection bind the characters to their betrothed, even to their animals. It is one thing when the bad guy takes a shot at Pat Boone. But when he eats Gertrude the Duck, well, that’s when the gloves have to come off! I told my wife we should watch this with the grandchildren. She agreed.
My generation straddled a world that stretched from Science Fiction B movies to Lenny Bruce X-rated standup routines. It has been a lifetime downward spiral for our culture, a never-ending journey to scatological, profanity-laced screenplay dialogue, gender-confused characters and gratuitous, violent gore. “Science” and contemporary culture sneers at the simple-mindedness of “Journey”. But the new “science “ fiction tells us that mortal women trained in martial arts can decimate any man, romance is fungible, anti-heroes are heroes, justice is in the hands of the beholder and we must simply take their word for it. Or else. As for the name of God or His Son? They are only invoked as expletives.
In todays Gospel, the Apostles ask Jesus why Elijah must come first. 
“Elijah will indeed come and restore all things,” Jesus answers (Matthew 17:11). Elijah. You know, the guy who departed on a chariot of fire. Science fiction. A throwback.
Come Lord Jesus. Restore what’s been squandered, heal what’s broken, finish what was started. We will sing a song of Joy. 
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