Saturday, July 19, 2003

Eastern Christianity as seen in popular fiction
Most of these examples are American. The Orthodox tradition isn't on most Westerners' radar so there aren't that many of these, but a few are noted here. They vary quite a lot, from the fair and pretty accurate (the wedding scene in The Deer Hunter, filmed in a real Ohio Rust Belt cathedral with a real priest playing that part) to the condescending and contrived (George's insincere conversion to the fictional 'Latvian*' Orthodox Church [the writers' standins for Russians] on 'Seinfeld') to the damnable (Andy Kauffman, Carol Kane et al. on 'Taxi'), a real church reduced to a prop for 19th-century stage-style putdown jokes about Eastern Europeans. (I rate My Big Fat Self-Hating Ethnic Joke Greek Wedding halfway between The Deer Hunter and 'Seinfeld' in this regard.) I read The Shoes of the Fisherman and haven't seen the film. Morris West's book simply projects his own liberal, trendy early ’60s ideas onto 'Pope Kyrill' (very loosely based on Ukrainian Catholic Metropolitan Joseph [Slipyj]); there is next to nothing about the Byzantine Rite (and it's a given in the book that the new Pope becomes Roman Rite anyway).

What I’m listening to
Carlos Santana, 1969: ‘¡Jing-goooooooo! ¡Jingo BA!

*Latvians aren't Slavs and are either Roman Catholic or Lutheran.

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