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Written Word > Articles & Commentaries > September 2011 > "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" and the Dangers of Consequentialism
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rudraksha beads
this film is certainly a well-made summer sci-fi thriller,
9/20/2011 1:45:56 AM
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Derek McDonough
On a positive note, I thought that the “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” offered great insight into the relationship between nature and grace. In this analogy Caesar represents all of us and the Gen-Sys virus represents grace. In a familiar movie trailer the tag line goes: “evolution becomes revolution.” But, when one reflects on the relationship between Caesar and the Gen-Sys virus one sees that there is nothing evolutive about it. Indeed, Caesar has the capacity to become hominized, as one can see from the virus’ effect on Caesar. But, that capacity did not “cause” Will to inject Caesar’s mother with the Gen-Sys virus and thus affect Caesar. Rather, on the free choice of Will Caesar became more than an ape while remaining an ape. So with grace and ourselves: grace perfects our nature by making of us new creations. Grace does not simply move us to “the next step” of our human-ness; rather, grace radically re-creates us ex nihilo into the fruit of the Resurrection. Throughout the movie this graced experience of Caesar mirror’s graces work in our own lives. I found the binding together of the apes through the work of Caesar and the Gen-Sys virus to signify our own faith journey. We cannot liberate ourselves; this is a hard truth, one that our American culture’s innate Pelagianism has yet to shake. On a visceral level the other apes can intuit the negativity of their imprisonment. But, it takes an-other to show them the way. Not only this, but Caesar does not cling to his hominized status in an obsessive and egocentric way. Instead, Caesar elevates his fellow apes, offering them the same new life that he has been given. Caesar, then, takes them by the hand and leads them to freedom – up and out of their imprisonment. But, their liberation remains fraught with difficulty, it implies a battle. Like the warfare we are born into, the Church militant must never forget that there are those who desire our destruction, desire to use us for their own sordid gain, much like Steven Jacobs’ desire to destroy Caesar and re-imprison the apes that have been freed.
The popularity of the “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” seen through this imaginative lens might reveal then a desire not only to root for the underdog, but a real desire for us to become better than ourselves. We can never and must never be satisfied with this life, to be so satisfied would mean to be less than human. God has made us for himself and “our hearts are restless until they rest in Him” (St. Augustine). Yes, sin has crippled us. Sin causes us to be hunched over like the apes imprisoned by so many structures and a nature not able to get beyond itself. But, in the end, if we follow our Lord who himself takes us by the hand and allows us to share in his divinity, we will be “un-curved” and stretched out like Jesus on the Cross. If we allow grace to take root in our lives, transform us, and transport us to the heavenly mansions that await us; then, together, we will be able to say like Caesar: we are home.
9/25/2011 5:04:50 PM
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Ernest
Thoughtful critic and well said, Reverend Barron.

Your teachings in the last paragraph reinforce for laity the responsibilities of the Church Fathers with respect to the primary commandment from God regarding taking from the tree of knowledge. A point that we should take to the voting booth; thank you for the admonishment.

Indeed, you could close even more forceful if you directly linked the 'apple' with DNA. By any and all measures except evolution, DNA is the knowledge of life.

Mankind would be wise to learn from history and this time around, obey God.

Thank you for your work as a shepherd of the minds of your flock.
10/1/2011 2:20:37 PM
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