Gospels and other biblical texts have been interpreted in multiple fashions causing controversy and enlightenment to some followers of the faith. There are as many interpretations of one line of text as there are religions of the deity the texts follow. One of the oldest forms of Christianity is the religion of Catholicism, and a group at Keene State College is using a video series to shed light on the ancient religion and the central views of the faith.
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Titled “Catholicism,” the 10-part series sheds light on the practices of the religion and its principles. Marika Donders, director of the Newman Center and campus minister, displays the DVD series to attract people who are interested in Catholicism. “It is a program that we bought for the church actually, and they allowed me to borrow it and it’s just a wonderful introduction so they let me borrow it on campus to see if anyone wants to come over and watch it,” Donders said. Attendees are not required to sign in or give any information; they are allowed to come and go as they please. “This is more of an exposition of ‘this is what we believe.’ See if you like it or not, you don’t have to. And say a non-Catholic comes just being able to understand somebody who is Catholic.”
The main medium for spreading the news about the series is a combination of word of mouth and posters displayed around campus. “We are hoping for a bigger turnout today, word of mouth sort of thing, and it’s hard, I find, to schedule. We are competing with so many things in the world today, but every one person we get is good.” Not all attendees are from KSC. One attendee, Mathew Young, is a graduate student liaison from Antioch University. Young said, “I kind of work with the university but also try to type act other outreach into other events, retreats, and other events between the club and the university itself.” Young went on to say, “[Antioch University] has some administrative functions but this is the only club, extracurricular crossover that I’m aware of, but that could change in the future.”
On Thursday night, Feb. 2, the film group displayed the second part of their series, titled “Happy are We: The Teachings of Jesus.”
The film follows Father Robert Barron as he travels to various holy sites in the Middle East, Africa, America, and other parts of the world. The series opens with visitors paying homage to ancient abbeys and cathedrals displaying Roman portraits of Jesus and his disciples.
Barron talks about the true dates of the Gospel’s writing, hiding no truth from the viewers. He talked about the idea of freedom and other stables of Christianity through a Catholic perspective using text and artwork to display the views. During the second part, he used Jesus’ service of the Beatitudes, the eight principles outlined for living by Jesus in the Gospel of Mathew, as a foreground for the narration. Barron also used philosophers, scholars, and writers such as Voltaire, Thomas Aquinas, and Tolkien to add detail and depth to Jesus’ teachings. One passage interpreted by Barrons is the infamous “Turn the other cheek” passage in Mathew 5:39. Barron said not to be passive or cowardice but to be passive aggressive to your offender.
He gave the example of a black man sitting on the sidewalk in the south during the 1960’s. He was told to move by a white man because he told him, “I don’t move for gorillas.” The man responded to the racist comment by getting up and saying, “I do.”
One claim made in the series by Barron was Pope John Paul II ended the Soviet Union’s hold in Warsaw and eventually all of the Soviet Union’s power all together with the sermon he made in 1979. According to Barron, people had such a “hunger for God” their power and persistence led to the fall of the Communist power. After the video was over the group talked about any questions or anything they wanted to bring up about the video. One attendee, Eve Gakunde From Antioch University, said, “It was really interesting. It’s more about our life, how we live, and I could see how I would like to change my behavior or how I would like to change my way of living. I love the movie because there were many examples of real people who live that way and they were happy to live that way and they helped others to sort of change.”
Gakunde commented on the group saying, “[The group] is so interesting. I can see my place in Keene. I am actually from Rwanda, Africa, so this is a good place for me to share with colleagues, to enjoy life.” The group meets every Thursday evening in room 309 in the student center at 9 p.m.
Ryan Loredo can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org