The profundity of director Kevin Smith's movies can be charted in the evolution of his recurring drug-dealer character, Silent Bob (a part Smith himself plays). In Smith's first two and most juvenile films, Clerks and Mallrats, Silent Bob's quietude was a mix of Zen detachment and stoned disinterest. Then Bob broke his silence in Smith's more intelligent third film, Chasing Amy, to deliver a monologue driving home the movie's point; at last he had something important to say. If that's the case, then Silent Bob's transformation in Dogma from zoned-out observer to full-fledged participator—he still doesn't talk but he communicates frantically in mine-like pantomimes—gives us an indication that now Smith has something really important to say. In fact, Christians would agree it's really the most important thing anyone can say: God is sovereign and Jesus is Savior.

So why all the fuss over the film from religious organizations? If you've followed the news about Dogma at all you've heard that protests from The Catholic League and other religious groups caused Disney-owned Miramax Films to drop the movie. (It's now being distributed by Lion's Gate, though the American Family Association has still called for a Disney boycott—go figure.) Objections toward the film ranged from its raunchy sexual humor and rampant obscenities to its inaccurate theology and its supposed attack on the Roman Catholic Church. I could see the point of these criticisms if Smith's objective were to shock religious moviegoers with his outrageous antics, but on the TV show Politically Incorrect Smith said his aim was instead "to speak about faith to an audience that doesn't really think about faith or go to church anymore." In other words, he's trying to shock ...

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