Matt Palmer is the former social media coordinator of Catholic Review Media.

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I think you have a bit of an overreaction. The thing is, the author wants to make a statement about this universe they have created. It is an oppressive regime that takes away the innocence of a child, or at worst a life, that keep the masses in fear. The more food they borrow, the more likely they will be picked. It is about coming from the poor and showing the upper class who's boss. (Especially in the end scene with Peeta and Katniss. "They don't have to have a winner.") As a society outside of the book, we don't condone these things by showing them on our screens and reading about them. You almost have to desensitize yourself in order to learn the message the series is trying to teach. You can't compare your morals regarding children death matches to this series because we didn't grow up where the Hunger Games looms annually. Instead, we have to look at it objectively and hopefully: better ourselves. Look at your nieces. There are two or more ways to interpret every story: Face value, where it is children in a death match for entertainment of the crowd. Or, with an analytical mind: a story of rags showing the upper class whose boss, and creating a revolution. A satire on how media in our world makes contestants in a dog-eat-dog world or for people to put themselves in danger for cheap media entertainment. (And many more ideas)

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I found this video difficult to watch malniy because the people were so confused and affluent. Giving more money to someone will not guarantee that they will live out what God has planned for them. I felt sorry for them and would have liked to suggest to them that they give me some of their money and let me show them what to do with it. Seriously, I did not hear any of them speak about doing something for others or their moral beliefs.Interestingly, one of the interviewees mentioned how they went to a Christian school and was beaten up. I guess in that case his introduction to Christ was not a positive one. Some of the things that make the rich nervous also make poor nervous. The rich children worried about how to hold on to their money and the poor worry about how to get it. The rich are worried about someone knocking on their door saying you did not do something right, so now I am disowning you. The poor worry about someone knocking on their door saying your time is up and now you have to get out or bill collectors hounding them. There will always be worries that can overcome us when we live in a hollow life such as what was viewed.True freedom is knowing that God is in control and no matter what we see, these things are all temporal and we have a job to do. Seek the kingdom! All the other things will be added if we do the first step.These are just my thoughts..

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The Welcome Matt

Ravens reflect on Christmas

John Harbaugh (Photo by Owen Sweeney III)

As Christmas approaches, Joe Flacco has one thing on his mind: the Cleveland Browns.

According to transcipts from the Baltimore Ravens' Wednesday media day, quarterback  is not too worried about other matters.

Asked  what Christmas means to him, Flacco said: "Just time to spend with your family and have a nice meal.  I don’t think too much of that will be going on with my family this year.  We’ll be traveling to Cleveland.  So, it’s usually just a time to spend with your family and have a good time.”

And what about what he does outside of football during the holidays? “There are a bunch of guys on our team doing things in the community.  Whether it’s going over and helping kids shop and giving them some time to enjoy themselves or making a visit to a hospital to see some kids or to see some people, I think our team and the people that are in charge of that do a great job of getting us out in the community.”

But, pressed about world peace at Christmas time, Flacco wasn't playing.

"No.  No I don’t think about that," he said.

OK, then.

John Harbaugh, Anquan Boldin and Ray Lewis were in much more reflective moods.

Said Harbaugh, a Catholic, of Christmas:

“We could have a sit down, 60-minute conversation about the holidays.  I love Christmas.  I think most people love Christmas.  In our house, we try to keep it focused on the reason for the season a little bit.  Of course, we’ve got a lot of presents for our little girl.  It’s just a very special time of year.  We’re going to make sure on Saturday our guys get a chance in the morning to get time with their families.”

But, the father of a young daughter said there is no "normal" Christmas as an NFL coach.

“I’ve never had a normal [Christmas].  Well, with college coaching I guess we did.  Not in the pros.  Not since we got to the NFL.  There’s always a game or practice or something.  We’ll get the morning off.”

Boldin, a wide receiver, told the media that he was honored to win the team's Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. His favorite gift as a child was a Payton jersey.  He said giving back to the community is important for NFL players.

"I see it as almost an obligation for us," Boldin said.  "I feel like we’re here for a specific reason, and it’s more than to play football. We are here to make a difference in our communities, because if it wasn’t for those people supporting us, we wouldn’t be where we are today.  For myself, honestly speaking, I was a kid in need growing up, so I stay real attached to the community where I’m from and also the cities where I play football.”

Lewis, the Pro Bowl linebacker, said he relies heavily on the Holy Bible. Does he have a favorite passage?

"Yeah, I just read a lot, really. Psalm 91 and pretty much whatever Proverbs, based off the date – whatever the date is that day – is pretty much what I read," Lewis said.  "I grab something from that day, and then I hold onto that throughout the whole day, and that’s what I try to focus on that day. There are a lot of things I do read and I do go over, but there are some things I definitely stick to – whatever passages that grabs me that day.”

Bible study, Lewis said, brings many players together.

“ Sometimes, Rev. [team chaplain Rod Hairston] will get up there and deliver his message. Then, sometimes the guys will just get in there and we’ll have discussions ourselves, which really opens it up to a totally different thought process when you see how we actually interact with each other about that type of thing.”

Lewis was asked what Christmas meant to him and he was unabashedly Christian.

“First of all, we’re talking about the True Creator – the creator of all," he said.  "Jesus Christ was the creator of all. When you think about Christmas, we’re talking about birth; we’re talking about giving; we’re talking about sharing time of love. That’s what it’s all about when you bring all your family in town and everybody comes together. That’s what we’ve got to really get back to. I don’t think even… What I’m trying to train my kids to [understand about Christmas], it’s not about presents, per se. I know we go buy all these great gifts, but it’s really about fellowship; it’s really about servant hood; it’s really about love and coming together with family and being able to help the unfortunate who can’t have Christmas and who don’t understand what Christmas means. So for me, Christmas has a lot of different meanings.”

December 22, 2010 04:57
By Matt Palmer


Prince Caspian blog revisted: Where is God?

Prince Caspian (amazon.com)

Two years ago, I posted the blog below on our old blog format on CatholicReview.org. Since we're talking Narnia and Aslan today, I thought I would share this blog from 2008. It was posted after I saw "Prince Caspian," the sequel to "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe."

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Search for Aslan... and God in Narnia

Where is God?

That’s the question many characters are asking throughout Prince Caspian, the second movie adaptation of C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. Although, to be fair, the creatures that populate the magical land, which is no longer accessible through big closets, are looking for Aslan.

Steer clear of this blog because it’s going to delve into spoilers of the new movie which, judging by box office receipts, not enough of you are seeing.

The titular animal in the first movie, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, has gone on a 1,300-year sabbatical through the woods.

During his, and the Pevensie children’s long absence, the creatures of the land have been ravaged through war and purged through ethnic cleansing by scheming human beings who love to maintain their positions of power and to talk with terrible accents.

Aslan, who squared off with the devil incarnate in the White Witch in Wardrobe, is barely seen in the latest movie. He’s become nothing more than legend and some doubt his existence simply because so much pain exists in the world.

When we finally do catch a glimpse of Aslan, his attitude is so cavalier about the destruction brought to his people that it’s off-putting. He’s lying on some grass when the innocent Lucy stumbles upon him.

He looks at her like a guy does when he’s pretending not to be interested in a girl.

I’m pretty sure he even says something like, “It took you long enough. There’s a pizza in the fridge.”

During a recent screening of Caspian, people walked out of one local theater miffed, saying: “Aslan’s kind of a jerk.”

Innocent blood is being spilled and the all-powerful lion with magic breath has his feet kicked up on the couch like he’s waiting for Jeopardy to come on at 7:30 on Channel 2.

When it appears the Narnians might have everything in the bag, then Aslan shows up to display his power and finish off the bad guys, as if to say: “Pretty cool, huh?”

Once he does that, Narnians who doubted Aslan are left to drop to their knees in reverence. Why were they so blind?

There has always been a debate about Aslan as an allegory for Jesus Christ. When he sacrificed himself for the sins of others in Wardrobe, it sealed the deal for some. Lewis, meanwhile, rejected the notion his famous character was a stand-in for Jesus throughout his Narnia books, despite some eerie similarities.

In Caspian, however, it appears that Lewis was trying to rise above what was perceived to be kid’s play in Wardrobe and speak to war-ravaged Europe. With all the horrors inflicted by Hitler’s regime in Germany, people were left asking: “How could God allow this happen?”

The movie doesn’t answer Aslan’s ambivalence well-enough. In both Narnia movies, the enslaved people solve their problems with violence and the children go happily back through a portal.

In the real world, we spend so much time wondering when God is going to show up, we aren’t willing to put in the work to find him in our every day lives. He’s set up this magnificent world for us and often we seem like we’re all just trying to tear it apart.

Eventually, we’re going to have to find the Divine in each other and ourselves to truly appreciate the world He gave to us.

December 06, 2010 03:55
By Matt Palmer


Liam Neeson: Aslan not just Jesus

Is Aslan really meant to be Christ?

Actor Liam Neeson, voice of "Aslan in the Chronicles of Narnia" film series, believes the magical lion represents more than Christ.  Neeson, who was raised Catholic in Ireland, believes Aslan is all great spiritual leaders rolled into one figure. He said this at a press conference to promote latest Narnia movie, Voyage of the Dawn Treader

“Yes, Aslan symbolizes a Christ-like figure, but he also symbolizes for me Mohammed, Buddha and all the great spiritual leaders and prophets over the centuries,” he said.

A key figure in C.S. Lewis' camp was quick to debate the point in the Catholic News Service story linked above. 

Walter Hooper, C.S. Lewis’s former secretary and a trustee of his estate, disagreed with Neeson’s assessment.

“Lewis would have simply denied that,” said Hooper, an American Catholic who lives in Oxford, England.

“He (Lewis) wrote that the ‘whole Narnian story is about Christ,’” he told Catholic News Service in a Dec. 2 telephone interview. “It is nothing whatever to do with Islam. Lewis could not have been clearer.

What say you literary and movie fans? Comment on Neeson's reservations when it comes to Jesus. Is he just trying to be politically correct? Does he have a point?

December 06, 2010 03:28
By Matt Palmer


Jesus works in mysterious places

Jesus has been serving us quality for 2,000 years.  Now, he's seemingly thriving in the home of the Old Fashioned burger.  Can you imagine how intimidating that is for people who have been putting off confession? You pull up to the drive-thru and there's Jesus asking what you want.

I get the feeling there might not be more conforting presence, though, in the unlikeliest of scenarios.  Jesus seems to find us when we're not looking for him.

Jesus is always the star... even at Wendy's.

December 01, 2010 12:05
By Matt Palmer


Father Hurley talks about the future

Father John Hurley and the staff of Division of Youth and Young Adult Ministry

Father John Hurley, a Paulist, has been a busy man since starting the Department of Evangelization five months ago. Through it all, though, the executive director of the department has made it his mission to be out with the people, particularly the teens so vital to the Catholic Church. He celebrated the closing BYCC's Mass and shared some parting thoughts with the teens before they returned to their parishes and high schools. "I am ever more convinced that the future of the church is in good hands in the archdiocese," Father Hurley said. "My staff has heard me say this over and over again and I will continue to say it over and over again, the youths are not the future of the church, but the future of the church depends on our youths." He continued, "But, with that brothers and sisters comes a heavy responsibiity that we have shared and rejoiced in this week: the call to discipleship. So, next time you look in the mirror in the morning when you get up, rather than saying "Oh my God" say that "I am a disciple of Jesus Christ," and maybe something profound will happen throughout that day. God has great things in store for us. Amen?" The 500-plus people in the ballroom responded "Amen," resoundingly. Father Hurley extended an invitation to vocational discernment for the young people in attendance, pointing to two archdiocan priests, Father Austin Murphy and Father Michael Triplett as inspiration. "God does have amazing surprises for us," Father Hurley said. He reminded the youths to follow history's biggest hero. "I'm often reminded that Jesus invited 12," he said. "One doubted, one betrayed and one committed suicide. Even because of all of that, you and I are here today. If it can happen to that lot of that pack of 12, and to Dismas, just imagine what can happen with 500 of us here this day. "

"Brother and Sisters," he continued, "let us pray that God's spirit be upon us because the kingdom of God is in our midst."

November 23, 2010 10:56
By Matt Palmer