What do you get when you cross a top-flight theologian with one of the summer's hottest movies? This provocative review of the sci-fi hit "District 9" by Fr. Robert Barron, now on our online Culture section. The new movie, about a ragtag band of lost, malnourished aliens who in the 1980s parked their spaceship above Johannesburg, has already been seen by critics as a metaphor for a great many contemporary ills: racism, homophobia, xenophobia and anti-immigrationism. Drawing on the work of Hegel and Levinas, Fr. Barron sees an even deeper meaning in "District 9"--Jewish and Christian images of the "other" and "slave." Here's a little of his review, and trust me you won't read any other review abou the film like his.
In “District 9,” we see the master/slave dynamic on display: the characterization of the aliens by a derogatory nickname, their sequestration in a squalid ghetto and the violence—direct and indirect—that is visited upon them. These practices are evident from ancient times to the present day. But we see something else as well: an identification of the oppressor with the oppressed, the openness to interpreting the world from the underside, from the perspective of the victim.
This is the Biblical difference, though I doubt that most people today would recognize it as such. It is the view that comes from that strange spiritual tradition that culminates in a God who doesn’t make slaves but rather becomes one.
Make sure to read the rest in the link above.
James Martin SJ
PS This will be my last blog for the next eight days: I'm off to retreat. Pray for me if you get a moment.