Shakespeare the Bard of Rome? or Shakespeare and the Catholic question


There was a fascinating article in AMERICA a couple of weeks ago: The Bard of Rome: Shakespeare and the Catholic Question by Kathleen Doherty Fenty of Boston College.

Fenty gives a historical account of the debate about Shakespeare’s religious affiliation and brings it up to date. But what I like about her piece (and would love to read more about this topic) is what she says about drama vis-a-vis sermons:

“The theater seeks to entertain, preparing the heart and mind for reflection, while the purpose of sermons is to preach and instruct. Drama is never a sermon. And this would apply to the portrayal of Shakespeare as a proselytizing Protestant, papist renegade or atheist subversive. When ideology reduces a living drama to apologetics, voices of protest will inevitably be raised.”

And often, I contend, the message is lost on the unexpecting audience (and word will spread) but the choir (already converted) will appreciate the message because it reassures them.

This tension continues to exist between what people expect from films and television, for example, and what is produced. 

I hear the voice of Flannery O’Connor in this article… her spirit lives.

Anthony de Mello, SJ,  once wrote: “My friends, that the shortest distance between a human being and truth is a story.'”

Thank you, Dr. Fenty.

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