Blaise Pascal was a great critic of Jesuit casuistry, and coined the pejorative adjective “Jesuitical,” meaning “crafty; practicing equivocation or overly subtle rationalization.” That may not have been fair to the Jesuits of Pascal’s day, but the image of the sly, deceptive Jesuit stuck.
More recently, among many orthodox Catholics, the Jesuit order has become associated with dissent and “progressive” theological heterodoxy, which, again, may or may not be fair.
Soon, though—if Last Temptation of Christ filmmakers Paul Schrader and Willem Dafoe have their way—the Jesuit name could carry another connotation entirely: hyper-violent criminal reign of terror?
In The Jesuit, a man comes out of prison in south Texas: “Neto” wants only a new life, far removed from his violent past. Just when it seems he might regain his wife and ten-year old son, she is brutally murdered and the boy kidnapped. Neto must abandon his dream of happiness in an explosive return to methods that made him the most feared man in Texas, and earned him the nickname … the Jesuit.
First Dan Brown imbued the name “Opus Dei” with sinister, murderous connotations; if people think of anything at all in connection with the name “Opus Dei,” it’s “albino assassin monk.”
Now, according to Schrader, if you’re a brutally violent criminal, the handle the world gives you is … “the Jesuit”?
What’s next? A Franciscan hit squad? Outlaw bikers called the Knights of Columbus? An international crime lord known only as “the Thomist”?
How about a thriller about a serial killer who plays Russian roulette with his victims, called Pascal’s Wager?
Whatever. Hey, who’s looking forward to Shrader’s follow-ups, The Mullah and The Hasid?
Copyright © 2000– Steven D. Greydanus. All rights reserved.