A Movie to Enjoy… or Maybe Not

Michael Metzger

Summer is for watching movies. Here’s a movie you might enjoy watching. Or might not.

The film is Padre Pio. You can see the trailer here. It stars Shia LaBeouf, an actor with a deeply troubled past. He admits he was “nuclear” (no one wanted to work with him) when director Abel Ferrara told him of a movie he was preparing to film about Padre Pio. Shia had never heard of Pio but thought the film might be his “chance to get back on the hustle.”

Didn’t work out that way. Shia instead met Jesus, something he didn’t foresee as he was “really good at attacking Catholicism.” But Shia aims to be a really good actor, so he immersed himself in the life of Padre Pio. He drove to San Lorenzo Seminary (the Capuchin order to which Pio belonged) in Santa Ynez, California, to learn about the Catholic faith and the Italian saint. He was befriended by the Capuchins. Shia was moved. His life changed.

You can watch the longer version of Shia’s journey in this video interview. Or you can take a minute and read a shorter version. The writer of this article says Shia’s conversion offers nine life lessons for Christians. I agree, which is why you might enjoy watching this movie.

Or might not.

This film is about Padre Pio suffering with his people. But early on, he’s warned, “Do not let Satan take advantage of your suffering.” How would Satan take advantage? Deception. He can appear as an angel of light. Or a serpent. Or, when it comes to men, he can appear as an alluring adulteress whose house is the way to Sheol, the domain of Lucifer. In the film, Padre Pio is tempted by a woman. She’s alluring. She’s naked. But Padre Pio sees through her nudity, recognizing this woman is actually Lucifer. That’s why this film might not be for most folks. They don’t see the “hidden” knowledge of God in our being created as naked and unashamed. They instead associate all nudity with pornography.

That’s because we’re a porn-saturated society. It’s estimated that 46–74 percent of men and 16–41 percent of women in the US are active pornography users. Porn associates nudity with pornography, defiling our conscience since nudity for those with a clear conscience is naturally pure (Adam and Eve were created naked). “To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who conscience is corrupted, nothing is pure” (Titus 1:15). Paul’s wisdom, however, doesn’t wash with those who have defiled their conscience. For them, all nudity is ipso facto pornography. This includes the nudity in Padre Pio. It’s porn, period.

If you feel this way, I recommend that you don’t watch Padre Pio. Read a good book instead. I suggest Our Bodies Tell God’s Story by Christopher West. You’ll learn how nudity is part of telling the gospel. Porn isn’t. It merely titillates. Nudes incites holy loving. Porn inflames lust.

Finally, if you can afford it, visit the Sistine Chapel. My wife Kathy and I have done this twice. We’ve found it moving, wondrous. It’s changed my life, largely because I’ve read West’s books. He describes how, in the restoration project of the Chapel (1981-1994), John Paul II insisted on removing several of the loincloths that other clerics had had painted over Michelangelo’s original nudes. He dedicating the restored Sistine Chapel by describing it as “the sanctuary of the theology of the human body.” Those with a pure conscience recognize this. Those with a defiled conscience? Probably not. Best to skip this excellent film.


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  1. The difference between sacred nudity and Porn is intent. If I seek out nudity to become excited, I am lusting and the nudity becomes pornography. If, on the other hand, I view nudity (such as in a beautiful painting of a woman) without the intent to become excited, then I can worship God’s creation with unashamed wonder. Alas, I have been hooked on Porn for so long I probably should skip watching the movie and instead read the book…:-)

  2. I really enjoyed Shia LaBeouf in Peanut Butter Falcon, which made me wonder if he was already on the road to recovery. I look forward to seeing Padre Pio. Thanks for the Advisory Warning — reminds me of the scene in The Name of the Rose, which was a little jarring, unlike the book.

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