Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Nazarin in New Hampshire

Although it is generally thought inferior Buñuel, the Spanish filmmaker's brilliant Nazarin tells the woeful tale of a Mexican priest who goes about trying to bring comfort and hope to all he encounters on his peripatetic quest for social justice. As Leonard Maltin put it succinctly in his TV Movies and Video Guide: "[It is a] relentlessly grim drama of saintly priest [Francisco] Rabal and [the[ hypocritical peasants who shun him." Obviously, Maltin missed the point: the movie is not so much a drama as a subtle satire. Its point: mankind is not worth saving, and anyone, no matter how saintly, who tries to redeem him is hopelessly doomed to failure.

An American Nazarin has become the focus of much media attention, one Rev. David Pinckney of Chichester, New Hampshire. Pinckney, it seems, took in a convicted pedophile who murdered a 12-year-old boy from Nashua and served a prison sentence of 35 years prior to his release recently. Now 60, Guay would seem to have "paid his debt to society," but apparently there are some things you just can't be forgiven for. The residents of Chichester have threatened to burn down Rev. Pinckney's house. What would Jebus do?

Back in 1973, when Guay was convicted of the boy's murder, he told the court that he only intended to sexually molest the youth, and in fact the boy was clad only in socks and undershorts when found. Guay copped a plea, getting the 35 for second-degree murder. (He since escaped, in 1982, and was sent to a federal prison in California, where he stabbed a fellow inmate in 1991.) I mean, this guy is BAD!

Nazarin-like, Pinckney agreed to shelter Guay even though the pastor is married and has four children, one 13 (the age of Guay's victim). Pinckney sent a letter to the local paper saying Guay had served his time and was no longer a threat to anyone. The cleric cited Guay's "religious conversion" in 1993. Besides, he was allowed to stay at the Pinckney place for two months. Perhaps mindful of the astronomical rate of recidivism in pedophilia -- something the Pope Guy knows all about -- the citizenry thought the offer of living quarters was open two months too long.

Now, here are a couple of questions for Nazarin-Pinckney:

(1) If the same angels who visited Lot in Sodom reappeared and asked the Rev to find one good man in the city of Chichester -- one man who could forgive Guay of his sins -- does the pastor really think he could find one? (If not, would the all-good god destroy the entire city of Chichester and turn Pinckney's wife into a pillar of salt?)

(2) If God is all powerful and all good, why would he allow Guay to murder a 12-year-old boy? No, no, Rev, don't come up with the answer that "God" gave us freedom of will and it is our own choice to do right or wrong. If that is so, why couldn't the all powerful, all good god make us do the right thing all the time?

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