On Second Thought, Maybe Thou Artn't So Highly Favored


Unless they were willing to insert a scene of Elizabeth getting whipped for 10 minutes as an albino Satan lurks in the background, the producers of The Nativity were never going to drum up Passion-style box office numbers. But this has to help.

The film stars 16-year-old Keisha Castle-Hughes as the Virgin Mary. Castle-Hughes, an Academy Award nominee who rose to cinema fame in "Whale Rider", is a New Zealander who is pregnant and unmarried in real life and did not attend the premiere.

Vatican officials have denied reports that the Pope did not attend the premiere because of the unwed pregnancy controversy. They said he never planned to attend because he is 79 and resting ahead of a difficult trip to Turkey starting on Tuesday.

What no one's telling the press—rather unwisely, because this could be a fun controversy—is what, if any, role the pregnancy had in Castle-Hughes' decision not to come. But if anyone's aware of this Vatican bolting the doors when sinning celebrities try to enter, gimme an example; I can't think of a time that's happened recently.

(Via the House of Alt.)


NEXT: The National Mall Goes Kitsch

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Will evangelicals consider Hollywood’s brown-nosing the Vatican and their Mary-worshipping ways as another salvo in the war of Christianity? Oh, let’s hope so!

  2. Correct me if I am wrong but I don’t think Joseph and Mary were married either. They were betrothed – in other words they were engaged to be married. So you had an unwed mother playing an unwed mother. Maybe it hit too close to home for some?

  3. but never forget, it was immaculate */sarcasm*

    Even if the rest of the of Jesus’s life was based on a real person, most serious historian/theologians agree that the conception story is complete utter fantasy put together way after the fact (centuries in fact) and based mainly on pagan beliefs at the time. After all, to convince someone that your god is better than their god, theres got to be some pixy dust sprinkled over your saviors birth.

  4. Lost In Translation,

    As I understand it, the RCC, the Eastern Orthodox Church, etc. believe that Mary was a virgin her entire life. However, the “canonical” New Testament to my eyes speaks of Christ having “brothers.” Then again, I also think that the Nag Hammadi gospels should be given serious consideration.

  5. L-I-T and Zeno, one small correction: the Virgin Birth stories were composed long after Jesus’ crucifixion, but within the first century. Luke and Matthew were first written down after the death of the Apostle Paul, who never mentions anything about the infancy narratives, but sometime before Revelation in 90 or so. This is a very small quibble, by the way.

    As for the movie and its sinning star, please refer to The Song of Bernadette in which (I think) Jennifer Jones appears uncredited as the Virgin Mary in the apparitions at Lourdes. She didn’t get credit despite having a large part and being famous because she was such a notorious slut in Hollywood that the crowd at the first screening howled with laughter when her name appeared “as the Blessed Virgin Mary.”

  6. Karen,

    What did I write that was in error?

  7. Sorry, Zeno, you didn’t say anything wrong. I was addressing Lost’s assertion that the infancy narratives were written “centuries” after rest of the New Testament and just typed two names instead of one. It’s just Monday.

  8. Karen,

    That’s fine. I was just really confused, that’s all. Monday after a holiday no less (assuming that you are an ‘merican).

  9. As I understand it, the RCC, the Eastern Orthodox Church, etc. believe that Mary was a virgin her entire life.

    Geeze. No good deed goes unpunished.

  10. Zeno, yeah, I spent the last five days wallowing in utter gluttony like every good American. Food was the only solace for my beloved Longhorns losing to Texas A & M. Here’s hoping you had an excellent Thanksgiving and that all your teams won.

  11. L_I_T,

    Immaculate conception and virgin birth are two different ideas. IC refers to Mary’s own birth, supposedly without the stain of original sin.

  12. Jennifer Jones played Bernadette, not Mary, and was credited. Mary was played by Linda Darnell, who (according to IMDB) was uncredited, and Wikipedia claims the following:

    Many of the production staff believed the lady should not be visible to the audience but that Bernadette’s adoration of something she saw plainly should “render the invisible visible to others”, as Werfel’s book said the real Bernadette did. The choice of Darnell (then a few months pregnant) with her reputation as a soft-porn model angered Werfel, who threatened to take his name off the picture. Selznick, who was having a relationship with Darnell, was determined to use her, so he told Werfel that he’d picked an unknown, draped Darnell in heavier garments and veiling than the historical Bernadette reported for her lady, and filmed her in brilliant light. Darnell is recognizable in the final scene where she comes into Bernadette’s room. The lady’s few lines are also spoken by Darnell.

    Darnell’s own Wikipedia entry (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linda_Darnell)
    doesn’t give any hint as to why she would have been considered a “soft-porn model,” unless the picture there of her in a rather mild cheescake photo qualifies as “soft porn.”

  13. Mary spontaneously generated too Kent? I ain’t no theologian, but I never heard that one.

  14. Immaculate conception is no more unbelievable than the suppossedly random sequence of events that led to the development of intelligent life according to scientists. We all believe in unbelievable things, most devout people are just more upfront about it.

  15. Mark, you don’t understand evolution at all.

    That said, that was not even remotely my point.

    I’m askin Kent if I’m reading his post right that according to the story Mary was also an example of a sexual reproduction.

  16. Toxic: Maybe you should do some basic research on your topic before you make a stupid post. The conception of Mary by her parents was not virginal and has never been claimed to be by any mainstream Christians. Catholics believe that she was conceived in the normal fashion physically, but without original sin. If you don’t know what original sin is, look it up. Orthodox and Protestants do not share this view.
    (Although it is amazing how far back virginal conception/Immaculate Conception confusion goes, and by intelligent people.) I’ve seen the error made by Thomas Jefferson and Mark Twain.)

  17. I didn’t confuse it, Kent confused it! I was just confused by Kent.

  18. You’re all in error.

  19. Thanks, JK.


    IC did not become official Roman Catholic doctrine until 1854. I am not defending the virgin birth or IC, but rather pointing out the difference. Hmmm, I missed the part where I claimed that IC involved spontaneous generation or asexual reproduction. In fact, I think my post pointed out that immaculate conception is NOT the same as virgin birth.

  20. Kent,

    Sorry, as you said, I confused the two. Let’s just say both get thrown around too much and without much reference.


    I was thinking of Luke’s version, which was written well over a century after the death of christ as its the most detailed and most poetically written. Matthew and Marks are pretty dry in comparison. 😉

    In any case, it is still agreed I’ve found that the early life of Jesus is pretty much poetic bunk. As I don’t have the writings in front of me now, its hard to tell you exactly the arguments made

  21. The virgin birth of Christ has always been interesting in view of his supposed descent from the “House of David”, with which notion it is incompatible. [I am aware of the minor tradition that his descent from the House of David was through Mary, but that is a non-starter in that the law of the time recognized only the paternal line of descent.

  22. Toxic: Sorry, but Kent was perfectly clear.

    L_I_T: I think most scholars would also date Luke to the late first century at the latest. Indeed, in view of the frequent use of “we” in the sequel volume Acts of the Apostles, it probably has the best claim of all the Gospels to have been actually written by its purported author, an otherwise obscure associate of St. Paul.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.