Chase's religious beliefs?

#1
One thing that really struck me during last night's [Cold Stones] episode. Have we ever seen a Christian/Catholic religious figure portrayed as being a truly "good" person? I mean, ever?

This season we've had the smarmy pastor, in the hospital. The new, greedy, priest that wants to charge Paulie 5 times what the old agreement is, for a community festival. And, last night, Phil's wife was just awful. She has absolutely no sympathy for Vito getting beaten to death and then starts crying thinking about the "poor man, going blind at 47...walk in his shoes for a day", as if her husband being beaten to death is not as tragic, because he was gay.

So, it just got me thinking back, and I guess the closest thing to a "good" religious character that we've had is Father Intintola, though they certainly didn't portray him as a saint, with his heavy flirting with Carm.

I know that FOMW has been expecting Tony to meet up with a "good" advocate of Christ at some point, but I really don't see it happening, because I think that Chase himself, perhaps, doesn't see things that way. He seems to enjoy pointing out hypocracy with the Church, and church goers, anytime he is given the chance.



</p>Edited by: <A HREF=http://p098.ezboard.com/bthechaselounge.showUserPublicProfile?gid=flyonmelfiswall>FlyOnMelfisWall</A> at: 5/22/06 4:17 pm

Re: Chase's religious beliefs?

#2
jayduck, Chase has been pretty non-talkative about his personal religious beliefs. He was asked by a NYT columnist before season 5 if Tony believed in God, and he confessed that he couldn't separate that question from the question of whether he himself does. He didn't want to get into it but offered that Tony (i.e., Chase) was inculcated with certain beliefs and that some of that was still there but, at the same time, he couldn't represent that at this point in time and life that he really believed in "miracles" and God. So he was ambivalent.

The interesting thing about Chase, as OE has often pointed out, is that he was raised a Baptist. That's quite an unusual thing, I should think, for any Italian, let alone a grandson of Italian immigrants raised in NJ.

I can't agree with your characterization of the pastor as "smarmy". Over zealous and offputtingly self-assured? Yes. Smug and self-righteous? Yes. A good advocate for Christ, particularly to someone like Tony? No. But he didn't do or say anything that betrayed a fraudulent bent or a malicious intent.

I also don't agree with your characterization of the priest from "The Ride". I think he was being portrayed in a relatively favorable light. He was very aware of the racket that Paulie was running and, as only a temporary priest covering for the guy that normally handled the matter, had to play along with traditions and customs of the parish and the festivals that are important to the Church.

At the same time, he didn't want to see the Church used just to line the pockets of the mob. He stood his ground, confident that he had the superior bargaining position, and used it to ensure that the Church would see a much bigger and fairer share of the proceeds than they had in past years. He was portrayed as an interesting mix of shrewd, brave, loyal to the Church, and pragmatic. That's about as much an endorsement as you'll ever see of a religious figure on the Sopranos.

Quite apart from how Chase portrays clergy or religious vocationalists, however, is what he portrayed in the NDE. I myself am a committed Christian but I don't attend any church, partly because there's so much B.S. to put up with in most churches and around many people who attend and minister them. So I immediately want to separate formal from private religious practice/belief.

I know you and some others don't agree, but I'm quite convinced that the briefcase/wallet switch and the notion of Kevin Finnerty "financing" Tony's stay in the "Omni" hotel that prolonged his life and financing his trip to the ER, where a kind doctor diagnosed his severe character problems and advised him how to get help, was a portrayal of Christian redemption. The sacrifice inhering in that scenario is uniquely Christian. I'm not familiar with any doctrine from any other religion that features a similar "savior" theme. So, in addition to the Eastern religious and other philosophies that permeated the NDE and Tony's waking reflections afterward, there was definitely an important Christian element in the NDE, one that I think suggests Chase has not entirely abandoned his early Christian roots.

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Re: Chase's religious beliefs?

#3
I can't agree with your characterization of the pastor as "smarmy". Over zealous and offputtingly self-assured? Yes. Smug and self-righteous? Yes. A good advocate for Christ, particularly to someone like Tony? No.



gee fly.. seems to me you just defined 'smarmy' to a t...

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Re: Chase's religious beliefs?

#4
<blockquote>Quote:<hr>gee fly.. seems to me you just defined 'smarmy' to a t...<hr></blockquote>

LOL, smarmy is one of those "ear of the beholder" words. I confess to not relying on Webster's for a definition, but I thought it for sure encompassed some kind of fraudulent or false conduct. I don't see the pastor as false. He seemed very genuine in his beliefs even though some of them were pretty silly.

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Re: Chase's religious beliefs?

#6
Thanks for the definition, JTF. I was WAY off on that one. I've never used the word before, but I've heard it and just assumed a meaning from those contexts . . . as well as the sound of the word. It just sounds sort of . . . nasty.:-)

I guess I can see the pastor as smarmy, then. I still think the Latino priest was a relatively favorable portrayal. Father Intintola is, all things considered, a pretty favorable portrayal as well. Any priest who stops short of betraying his vow of celibacy and doesn't molest children qualifies as favorable these days. And I would say the black priest of season 3 was favorable . . . and rather funny, what with his indignation at Carmela thinking he studied "psychiatry" rather than "psychology."

I think the favorability rating for any character or group portrayal on this show has to be put in perspective with the negatives that accompany EVERY character or group, no matter who or what they are. Just to see the consistently negative portrayal of doctors and hospital staff this season gives one pause. While some of it is spot on, I couldn't help thinking that the overwhelming discourtesy displayed by nearly every person in the health care industry during Tony's hospitalization was over the top. I don't think it was a fair representation of the balances of people you run across in that field.

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Re: Chase's religious beliefs?

#7
thank you fomw.

my mother has been an R.N. for 20 plus years. I have basically grew up in a hopsital. There is a lot of people who just show up to work and are filled with this self richeousness. It is a hard job that's nearly thankless. But everybody except the nurse that was treating tony when he woke up was really nasty. especially doctor plepler. DC is a genius the way he can touch on every little social and political aspect of this society. without a doubt the way those people acted were to potray some point about the healthcare in this country.

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Re: Chase's religious beliefs?

#8
<blockquote>Quote:<hr>Thanks for the definition, JTF. I was WAY off on that one. I've never used the word before, but I've heard it and just assumed a meaning from those contexts . . . as well as the sound of the word. It just sounds sort of . . . nasty.:-)<hr></blockquote>

Pleasure, Fly!

I have to admit I didn't think it was a word in common usage in the US, it's a very "english" sounding word, like something my grandmother would say...I tend to use the term "kiss-ass" instead (standards are slipping, LOL)...


<blockquote>Quote:<hr>Any priest who stops short of betraying his vow of celibacy and doesn't molest children qualifies as favorable these days.<hr></blockquote>

Harsh but fair!!

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Re: Chase's religious beliefs?

#9
jayduck, your post and opening sentence above move me to post on this.

Speaking as a 'devout' Catholic female raised for the best part of my young life in Northern Ireland and amidst the atrocities that the Troubles served-up during this time, I can say with infrangible conviction that the depiction in many aspects of the media today regarding what it means to be (in-particular, and in any shape or form) a Catholic, is wholly unjustified, overplayed, and far too 'cinematic' for myself or anyone remotely claiming to be affiliated with true Catholicism in any way.

I really don't wish to alter the course of the following post in the slightest but should add that I now reside in Scotland (and usually for the bulk of my week, in Glasgow) where sectarianism is alive and well (and in my time) more so than ever before. I know that's a bold statement, but can't help feel that any recent highly publicised attempts by Parliament to restrict this hatred, help to suggest that it's got to be because it's now in the spotlight more than ever, therefore, at a possible peak within what is to be regarded as a newly 'cultivated' social system.

History & The Troubles; sectarianism in and around the structures of Scottish society and in-particular our high-paying footballing community/industry; Catholics Vs. Protestants - here meaning simply to be regarded then only as either a "Fenian Bastard" or an "Orange Cunt" - here, it's far too sexy, too controversial, and too profitable for the media to concentrate on what they really should be focussing on - the abolishment of this - not creating even more confusion about what is thought to lie at the heart of certain religious faiths.

It's the same all over. I'm not overstating when I say that there is far too much focus on the dissentient, negative aspects of Catholicism in the media today (as opposed to the neutral or positive) - from the Entertainment Industry right down to the tabloids and how they portray certain members of Irish Militia as Celebrity gangsters representative of an entire community and beliefs held therein - and not what they really are - murderers representative of a bigoted minority. The list goes on and on.

Of course I'm all for the 'both to many sides of an argument' debate, but come-on, show me an honest, hard-working, non-affiliated with paramilitary or organised-criminal-activity Catholic in films and TV today (and not just in a peripheral or unpopular sense); show me an on-screen representation of a Catholic where we aren't constantly reminded of a level of insincerity or doubt within this faith in any way whatsoever, and I'll say I'm not going all 'conspiracy theory' on you!
Please note regarding any 'theory' : Joke!
And, I should add, I'm fully aware of biased mischaracterizing right across the board where other belief systems are held.

But it's Chase, The Sopranos, the delineation of Catholicism on the show recently, and jayduck's post that stir me to post on this.

I've always 'turned a blind eye' to how Carmela 'Catholic No.1' Soprano has been portrayed on the show. Setting aside the crux of the composition (Livia, or Tony's upbringing in-general), Chase has always made it clear (to me) that Carmela was the biggest bitch of the piece. Granted, yet another example of a 'Catholic hypocrite' who to a certain extent condones the 'murder of soldiers', but here at-least, is contained within an environment where it's made clear that she suffers in someway for this and where her own daughter and many others remind her time and again that she isn't really what she professes to be.

The way the Catholic Mafia Housewives of The Sopranos dance around their recreant, similarly misguided murdering scumbag husbands, evokes comparisons to years gone by where women would do the same with husbands or lovers involved in paramilitary (in this case, criminal) activities in Ireland. The Mafia David Chase presents us with, has always been about financial prosperity before religious allegiance though.
It's easy to spot how prodigiously contradictory his women are when we see who they're married to or the circles they move in outside the Church. This typification of the modern Catholic isn't half that of your average, everyday one.
Here, Carmela's allegiance to the Mafia outweighs and eclipses her standing as a 'normal' person if you like.

It's in 'other areas' where Chase may be attempting to represent Catholicism/
Christianity that I'm becoming quite concerned.

I can't go so far as to say the man has no business with this; but I can say I think with this season most of all, he has grossly mismanaged the handling and acceptance of how religion in-general has been perceived on the show up to now.

Not wishing to collide directly with any analysis of the season so far (and with so many diverse interpretations of the show this year, it truly has been a pleasure to take part in), I still cannot refer to the lynchpin of S6, Join the Club+ (the most controversial chapters), as anything other than what could naturally be going on in Tony's head at that time, sans intervention.

The reason I bring Club & Mayham into this is because if I do start to consider any of this from a religious perspective (as it has been elsewhere), then it doesn't sit well with how I see Chase (deliberately?) portraying religion and Catholicism specifically as concepts he truly knows anything about. Read: he shouldn't go there, or if he does, he should hire writers from boards like these.

If I could just explain what it is I mean by all that -
If I had him sat before me right now, this is what I would say specifically:

'David, if you truly are subscribing to significant elements within the Christian faith (Club/May possibly, for example), then why do you contradict the Heaven/Hell possibility by insisting that when a truly evil person dies, they will have the chance to return and haunt those that they consider have wronged them in life?'

Forget about Puss in the mirror or (Tony's) conscience for a minute, those damn ghouls spoke out to Paulie.

This is where I start to imagine what a shank in the back must feel like.
Later on, Paulie is visited by someone/something credited as 'The Virgin Mary'...
This is where I say: 'are you freaking kidding me?'

Now, don't get me wrong okay - I'm not debating the possibility of this.

Where my concern lies is in how Chase blurs the lines between blatant fantasy, and true phenomenon.

I'm sorry if what I'm about to say will offend anyone, but in my experience, those that claim they can 'contact the deceased' (like Paulie's medium from S2), only do so to line their own pockets. They prey on the particularly vulnerable and here in the UK, attract and excite copious amounts of poor individuals suffering from schizophrenia. Granted, they may afford hope in some people (similar to religion in that respect), but it has been proven that they do so only for the benefit of themselves. They continue to extort money from the insecure by telling them they are in some kind of danger and must continually return for guidance whatever, time after time; or, that a loved one (dead or alive) needs them to do so for whatever reasons. I'm sure you have heard of them in the US & all over as well.

To the big old point I guess: so far, Chase hasn't had the balls to grant Tony, Carmela (or even Melfi) a literal meeting with the Divine.
And that's fine with me. But by giving the character of Paulie this ('The Virgin Mary'), he is lending credence or alluding to the fact that he considers what Paulie experienced with the charlatan back in S2, as something completely REAL and concomitant with religion today. To me, he is saying he thinks Christian (specifically Catholic) beliefs are from the same stable as chicanery.

In 'The Ride', an episode that reverts back heavily to 'From Where to Eternity', Chase tells us that yes, Paulie is capable of spiritual intervention; that what happened to him in S2 was completely accurate - spirits spoke out to him.
Grant any other character literal intervention (the Virgin Mary), and I can delete half this post.

If Join the Club & Mayham do indeed have Christian faith elements at the core of their foundations, what does the episode in S2 backed up with the one this season say about how much Chase is really subscribing to this?

Intervention on a show such as The Sopranos, of course, wouldn't sit well with me for many different reasons, but here surely the focus must lie on what Chase is truly trying to say. How he feels about Christianity, how much respect he has for the faith and it's concepts, or what he truly knows about it.

Whatever DC is doing with S6, the emphasis must surely be on how much of it seems yet another example in media society today where misrepresentation (deliberate or unintentional), uncertainty, and intentional ambiguity seem to yet again counter what Catholics truly hold sacred.


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Re: Chase's religious beliefs?

#10
Catherine,

<blockquote>Quote:<hr>But by giving the character of Paulie this ('The Virgin Mary'), he is lending credence or alluding to the fact that he considers what Paulie experienced with the charlatan back in S2, as something completely REAL and concomitant with religion today. To me, he is saying he thinks Christian (specifically Catholic) beliefs are from the same stable as chicanery<hr></blockquote>

I don't see how Paulie's "vision" of the "Virgin Mary" would render a statement on what Mr. Chase sees or does not see as real or compatible with Christian religion.

To me, Paulie seeing something that looks like the Virgin Mary for a split second does say something about Paulie and his state of mind (reflections of the vision in the non-POV shot notwithstanding) rather than about what Chase might or might not believe.

<blockquote>Quote:<hr>In 'The Ride', an episode that reverts back heavily to 'From Where to Eternity', Chase tells us that yes, Paulie is capable of spiritual intervention; that what happened to him in S2 was completely accurate - spirits spoke out to him.
<hr></blockquote>

I really don't think the "vision" in 'The Ride' is meant as an actual, objective divine manifestation, ie. a Miracle. The connection to season 2 (where Paulie gets so scared by Chris's NDE tales that he seeks the help of a psychic) might just be that Paulie is both paranoid and psychically unstable, more so than the rest of the crew.

I might be wrong of course. But it seems to me that the series as a whole is more about what's going on in peoples' minds, how they construct their own realities (and thus, in some cases, their own particular Hell on Earth), how they struggle with their flawed mindsets, how they try to overcome them (or, in some cases, how they don't give a sh*t).

As I see it, there is no general implication of a certain given religious concept in the Sopranos that would be the underlying base of everything. Or if there is at all, it seems to me rather Zen Buddhist, but certainly not Christian. (The Bell Labs scientist's sequences seem to indicate that.)

This, I think, is in no way contradictory to the abundance of religious connotations, symbolism, citations of myths and religious concepts from various different cultures, etc.

It's just that it's all in peoples' minds.

Everyone has their own interpretation, their own homegrown idea of religion and belief. Just as in contemporary real life. I don't see Chase trying to imply a common religious denominator. So I guess what I'm trying to say is: in this drama, everyone has their religion or their idea of it. But the authors make no promise of redemption in the Christian sense.

</p>Edited by: <A HREF=http://p098.ezboard.com/bthechaselounge.showUserPublicProfile?gid=montefalco>Montefalco</A> at: 5/25/06 3:41 am
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