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Argh, "Mercy" is the right category for 2016 — it will never again be the right category as much as it is right now. But it's second to last in the poll, so. 

#YearofMercy

Edited by SDG

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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13 minutes ago, Darren H said:

Within a Christian context, I suspect there will be a lot of overlap between Crime, Crime and Punishment, and Mercy!

Oh yes, Darren. But calling our 2016 list the Arts & Faith Top 25 Films on Mercy will give us a sweet topical Pope Francis / Catholic hook with readers that we wouldn't have any other year. And, you know, it would be a way to actually participate in the Year of Mercy and to be a part of other peoples' participation. 

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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If everyone wants a do-over, that's fine. A couple of reasons I could see not doing this are that wouldn't people feel compelled to vote the one way? I mean, if we do a re-vote will people feel strong-armed into a vote for the "right category." Also, we're not an explicitly Roman Catholic organization, even if some of our key members and benefactors are. So, I personally don't see it as being a must to bend our list to participate in the Year of Mercy. Finally, can we come up with 25 truly great films about mercy? Like Darren, I imagine a list about Crime and Punishment would have a bent toward mercy, but what films are people imagining on a list specifically about mercy?

"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

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Thanks for the push-back, Anders. It's an important contribution to the discussion, and I'm grateful for it. 

Here's how I see it.

I'm not against any of the proposed categories. I think they're all good categories. I see no reason in the world why we can't, wouldn't or shouldn't do lists someday for Crime and Punishment, Coming of Age, Politics/Government, etc.

For me, then, it isn't so much a question of which categories to do or not to do so much as when to do them

Now, the Year of Mercy is bigger than Pope Francis and bigger than the Catholic Church. For that matter, Francis himself is in a sense bigger than the Catholic Church. That is to say, he's a spiritual leader who is widely admired and revered outside the Church; he has worked tirelessly to reach out to other Christians, to non-Christians and even to atheists, and non-Christians and atheists have responded gratifyingly to him.

He is by far the most visible spokesman for Christianity as a whole, and many Christians outside the Catholic fold recognize the value of having someone speak in a unifying voice, to whatever extent possible, in some way on behalf of all Christians. Timothy George's Christianity Today piece "Our Francis Too" is a good example of this. Even non-Christians and non-believers see him in some way as a voice for all mankind. 

Francis' call to make this year a Year of Mercy is addressed not only to Catholics but to the whole world, to everyone. Every one on this board, whether you are Catholic or not, Christian or not, believer or not, has been invited to make this a Year of Mercy in a special way. 

This invitation goes far beyond our involvement in A&F and far beyond this year's top 25. But I think this year's top 25 is definitely one forum in which we could choose to respond to this invitation — or not, if we feel there are compelling reasons not to. 

What would be compelling reasons not to? If one believed that a top 25 films on mercy is a positively bad idea (not just that there are better ideas to pursue first), or if one had principled reasons to wish not to respond to Francis' invitation to make this a Year of Mercy, then, certainly, one ought to vote some other way. 

Again, it's worth pointing out that other people looking to participate in the spirituality of the Year of Mercy, Catholics and non-Catholics, would have a special interest in our list, in sharing and publicizing it, and in watching the films we recommend. 

For all these reasons, unless we are downright opposed to the idea of a mercy list, I say let's strike now while the iron is hot. 

Finally, if the case for the A&F Top 25 Films on Mercy hinges on the question "What films would we consider?" I would be happy to start coming up with possible candidates. 

Edited by SDG

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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FWIW, I started a brainstorming list of possible titles here.

Mercy is actually my favorite of the themes, but I confess I voted for my very close second favorite, Crime and Punishment, because it seemed like Mercy had lost most of the interest which had been expressed in the discussion thread, so I thought the idea (which I loved and nominated) was going to have to be shelved. I'd be thrilled if we could do it.

"Anyway, in general I love tragic artists, especially classical ones."

"Even the forms for expressing truth can be multiform, and this is indeed necessary for the transmission of the Gospel in its timeless meaning."

- Pope Francis, August 2013 interview with Antonio Spadaro

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SDG wrote:
: He is by far the most visible spokesman for Christianity as a whole, and many Christians outside the Catholic fold recognize the value of having someone speak in a unifying voice, to whatever extent possible, in some way on behalf of all Christians.

Obligatory caveat that Francis doesn't seem to speak for, or unify, all Catholics (cf., e.g., Ross Douthat).

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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9 hours ago, Anders said:

Also, we're not an explicitly Roman Catholic organization, even if some of our key members and benefactors are. So, I personally don't see it as being a must to bend our list to participate in the Year of Mercy.

 

8 hours ago, SDG said:

Francis' call to make this year a Year of Mercy is addressed not only to Catholics but to the whole world, to everyone. Every one on this board, whether you are Catholic or not, Christian or not, believer or not, has been invited to make this a Year of Mercy in a special way. 

 

I was thinking about this and wasn't sure if I should respond because I didn't want to be offensive.  My first thought was similar to what I had mentioned earlier about the possible problems of the list being connected to the American election... not everyone in this group is American.  Likewise as Anders has pointed out, not everyone here is Roman Catholic.

But also, even though Francis has called this to be a year of mercy (which I certainly don't think is a bad thing) there are a lot of people outside of the RC fold who are entirely uncomfortable with being influenced by the Pope at all, seeing it as a step in a bad direction.  I'm not speaking directly for anyone here of course, just sayin.

BUT, then when I've thought about it some more, I came to thinking about how much mercy is needed in our world right now, and how drastically far some people's thinking has fallen away from the concept.  I see this when I look into some world events (not all of course - I don't want to be too negative.)  I was listening to a podcast the other day where some theologians and commentators (one of them being David Bentley Hart if anyone knows of him - I'm finding one of his recent books most excellent) were talking about our increasingly secular society and how they were concerned that mercy is one of the things that will be lost.  I believe I can see signs of a possible progression towards this now.

So, all of this being said, I'm kind of thinking that reconsidering the vote with the idea of mercy might be a good thing.  Maybe we could emphasize that it is a discussion of the subject coming from conversation between different denominations and theological systems.  There's an element of crossing boundaries and extending a hand of friendship amongst differences, even in the discussion.

Edited by Attica
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1 hour ago, Peter T Chattaway said:

 He is by far the most visible spokesman for Christianity as a whole, and many Christians outside the Catholic fold recognize the value of having someone speak in a unifying voice, to whatever extent possible, in some way on behalf of all Christians.

Obligatory caveat that Francis doesn't seem to speak for, or unify, all Catholics (cf., e.g., Ross Douthat).

Of course not. No one on earth, not even the Lord Jesus Christ, could unify all Christians, because not all Christians wish to be unified with other Christians. Thus, the harder Francis tries to be a unifying presence, the more surely and necessarily he will alienate some. Like Jesus. To seek to be a voice for unity is necessarily also be a divisive voice—to antagonize and alienate the voices of division and partisan spirit. (I'm not accusing Douthat specifically of this, just observing that the pitfalls are inevitable.) 

But even Douthat would agree that a) the job description is an important one; b] Francis is trying hard to fulfill it; and c) to whatever extent anyone can support or respond to his efforts in good conscience, then (to the extent that their consciences are well formed) it would be good to do so, and in any case their consciences should impel them to do so. 

Obviously I recognize that for Orthodox in particular the case I've made for Francis comes with caveats. But I have even seen Orthodox theologians and ecumenists acknowledge that a) in principle there is value in someone being able to speak on behalf of all Christendom; and b] the bishop of Rome is in a unique position to do this, though from the Orthodox side this is a matter of venerable human convention rather than divine institution. 

In this case, for our purposes, the Year of Mercy is something that Francis as proposed, not something he has commanded. We need not resolve how to interpret the Petrine primacy, the primacy of the bishop of Rome, and their relationship to each other (if any) to decide whether in good faith we can respond to this invitation. 

I am, of course, a Catholic. But I honestly believe I speak here as much as a humanist as a Catholic, and that humanistic principles alone (all the better if they are informed by Christian faith, or at least Christian values) are sufficient to make the case. 

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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SDG, there's a lot in what you write that merits some sort of response, but this isn't the place for it. Suffice it to say that I thought the caveat was necessary, and I kept it as brief as possible.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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No matter what, there will not be a full-on redo. That would be a disservice to those who voted in earnest.

There was already the possibility that we would have a follow-up run-off vote featuring the top candidates if there wasn't a clear majority for one of the established topics. Given that a few members have expressed a desire to change their votes to the "Mercy" category (a change Tyler can't make since the board functionality won't allow it), I'm open to the idea of having a follow-up run-off vote feature the top three candidates rather than just the top two candidates, which would (at this juncture) include "Crime and Punishment," "Politics," and "Mercy."

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21 hours ago, SDG said:

Attica, 

Thanks so much for your irenic response. That's exactly what I was hoping for, and what Francis was hoping for, I think. 

Glad you liked it.   :)

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On January 30, 2016 at 2:01 PM, SDG said:

Thanks for the push-back, Anders. It's an important contribution to the discussion, and I'm grateful for it. 

 

Thanks for your response, SDG. Having a discussion was my primary intention, and I feel better about it now.

"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

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I was hoping for the A&F Coming-of-Age films, but it seems like I'll be waiting another year. Maybe the idea just needs more time to mature and grow up in our minds. :)

As an aside, I found this recent list of films about mercy in connection with the Year of Mercy.

Edited by Joel Mayward
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18 hours ago, Joel Mayward said:

I was hoping for the A&F Coming-of-Age films, but it seems like I'll be waiting another year. Maybe the idea just needs more time to mature and grow up in our minds. :)

As an aside, I found this recent list of films about mercy in connection with the Year of Mercy.

Interesting list, but if we do Mercy, please tell me we're not going to put Chocolat (Hallstrom - 2000) or The Shawshank Redemption on the list. Preferably, please tell me we're not going to nominate them.

"Anyway, in general I love tragic artists, especially classical ones."

"Even the forms for expressing truth can be multiform, and this is indeed necessary for the transmission of the Gospel in its timeless meaning."

- Pope Francis, August 2013 interview with Antonio Spadaro

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That list certainly isn't making me more convinced to pull the lever on "Mercy." I kind of want to support the idea, but I want to know a few more of the films people were considering and how central we expect the concept to be to the film as a whole.

"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

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I started reading that list and then backed away. It's far too general and open to anything. I don't want those titles to influence any of our own nominations. I'd hope for a focused list with substantial summaries celebrating how each film is specifically addressing the issue, instead of a massive list of "Well, one could argue that mercy plays a part in this film."

Edited by Overstreet

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I'm not saying that particular link is indicative of the sort of list A&F would generate with such a theme, but simply noting that we're not the only ones who have connected the Year of Mercy with creating a list of films. A number of people have asked "what sorts of films would we consider?" and perhaps this could help us begin to explore what we mean (and don't mean) when we use the term "mercy."

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