Singing the blues

On the thirtieth anniversary in June of the film The Blues Brothers,

L’Osservatore Romano declared it a ‘Catholic classic’. Cynics might say that this was a ploy to divert attention from sex abuse scandals. Shrewder Rome-watchers realized that it was a further sign of the heavenly ministry of the goal-keeping former Pontiff, John Paul, anxious to divert attention from Italy’s poor showing in the World Cup.

The film’s plot involvestwo brothers, engaging in a chaotic trip, involving car crashes and police chases, trying to re-establish their band to raise cash to prevent the closure of the Catholic orphanage in which they were raised.

Although ‘I don’t want no jive-ass preacher talkin’ to me ’bout Heaven and Hell’ was one of the film’s famous lines, the Vatican, nevertheless, discerned a strong Catholic sub-text, because ‘the church orphanage was the brothers’ only family.’

Whatever the reason for Rome canonizing the Blues Brothers more quickly than Newman, it is a further example of the Vatican outsmarting Lambeth in the quest for the youth vote. So, readers, even if you’re got women-bishop blues, rally round Rowan and tell Lambeth which film should be named an Anglican classic.

Don’t all nominate The Great Escape – that’s reserved for Ordinariatians. Also no birettas in the ring for Arsenic and Old Lace. Will Reform-ers, looking for GAFCON help, go for South Pacific? Unworthy, anyone suggesting that Watch would vote for Annie Get Your Gun. Nostalgics, remembering 11.00 Matins, should back Lost Horizon. How about a film celebrating the Anglican via media? Then it’s got to be the Johnny Cash biog, Walk the Line.

Yet if Rome can live with The Blues Brothers’ ribaldry, perhaps Lambeth should be equally brave. So only one contender to describe contemporary Anglicanism: Jail House Rock.

Alan Edwards

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