…this past week, Sister Rose of the Daughters of St. Paul moved through Park City’s starry firmament as Sister Rose of Sundance, a veteran film critic participating in this year’s edition of the renowned indie festival. By the time Sundance ends on Sunday, she will have seen upward of 20 films, blogging and reviewing most of them for The National Catholic Reporter and joining in panel discussions for students from religious colleges and seminaries.
In all those ways, Sister Rose was serving not as a sentry protecting religious belief from cinematic product, but rather as a mediator helping to explain one to the other. As such, she embodies a departure both from the religious temptation to police popular culture, in the manner of the Roman Catholic Church’s now-defunct Legion of Decency, and the effort in fundamentalist circles to create a parallel universe of theologically safe movies, television and music.
“To paraphrase a Gospel passage, Christ came into the world to redeem the culture, not to condemn it,” Sister Rose, 61, said in an interview here. “It’s a negotiation. You don’t give everything a free pass. Something has to come out of your convictions and values. But what matters isn’t what the movie contains, but what it means.”