IN SURVEYING current religious periodicals we note with pleasure that two solid theological journals have recently given serious attention to what is usually thought of as a light or popular subject—the movies. If there is any lightness in the subject, there is surely no lightness in the treatment it receives in the Jesuit Quarterly Theological Studies (September, 1957), nor in the Protestant Theology Today (October 1957). The article, “The Legion of Decency,” by Fathers Gerald Kelly and John C. Ford, and “Theology and the Movies,” by Malcolm Boyd, Tutor Assistant at Union Theological Seminary, New York, assume the moral legitimacy of the cinema. Neither shares the not infrequently taken position that movies are evil per se and, therefore, to be avoided completely.
Apart from this concurrence on the legitimacy of movies, the two articles diverge throughout. This divergence, however, is not one of obvious conflict so much as complementation. The Legion of Decency article is concerned especially with what is evil and to be censured and avoided in the movies, while the Protestant article is occupied exclusively with the values of the movies, nowhere dealing directly with the possibility that any movies are to be blacklisted.
¶ Because of its nature, we will consider the Jesuit essay first. “The Legion of Decency emerged as a social reality in 1934.” (The historical data of this article is based on a highly recommended thesis by Father Paul W. Facey, S.J.). Some years prior there had been widespread discontent with the moral quality of movies and the lives of the actors. Our writers admit that this early concern was largely among non-Romanists. “And it may be said to the credit ...1
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