Monday, November 10, 2008

Bad clergy

TCM showed Becket today. Based on the play by French playwright Jean Anouilh, it stars Richard Burton as Thomas à Becket, the priest and confidant of English King Henry II (Peter O'Toole) who got himself assassinated when he decided to follow his conscience and submit to God's will instead of the King's will. The movie isn't bad, although it is a bit too long. However, that's not why I was thinking of the movie. One of the most famous lines in the movie is King Henry asking, "Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?"

My natural reaction is to think of some of the clergy in classic movies who, unlike Thomas à Becket, would more likely to end up spending eternity in "the other place". Elmer Gantry comes right to mind, although having been born Catholic, I can't help but wonder whether lay people who take it upon themselves to preach the Gospel in the way the revivalists of the 1920s did really count as clergy.

There's also Black Narcissus. Deborah Kerr leads a group of nuns from their mission in Calcutta to a place high in the Himalayas, and it eventually drives several of them to various forms of temptation. Oops. It's a visually beautiful movie, and somewhat surprisingly, none of it was shot anywhere close to Asia, but in the British Isles.

Who's your favorite bad member of the clergy?

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