Father Steve Grunow went to see the new James Bond film "Skyfall" this weekend. No spoiler alerts just yet, but he offers some very interesting Catholic food for thought for your pre-cinema reflection...
The new James Bond flick opened this weekend to rave reviews and a champion box office. “Skyfall” is the third outing for Daniel Craig, who presents Her Majesty’s most renowned secret agent as a coiled spring of muscle and menace that we can all be grateful is on the side of right and is defending the interests of the free world against those who would upset the balance of power through intrigue and sabotage.
The film is fresh right now and I don’t want to offer too much in the way of spoilers, but as the plot twists and turns to a literally explosive conclusion we learn something about James Bond’s family that Catholics might find interesting.
Bond’s ancestors were recusant Catholics.
For those unfamiliar with what “recusant Catholic” means, it meant those who in opposition to the English Sovereign, refused to recant their Catholic faith and pay fealty to the monarch as head of the Church in England. Recusant Catholics kept the Faith alive in England at great risk to their own lives and livelihood. Catholicism was essentially illegal in England until the 19th century.
It turns out that “Skyfall” is the name of the Bond family seat, a gothic estate in the remote Scottish countryside. The climax of the story takes place there and that’s where the recusant reveal happens.
A Facebook friend alerted me to the blog “Roman Christendom” which details in a post from 2009 that the author of the James Bond series, Ian Fleming, either consciously or unconsciously, associated the Bond character with the Bonds of Dorset, a recusant Catholic family. The post is really worth a read.
There is another Catholic link to the Bond mythology that came to me via Facebook. Joanne McPortland who writes the always insightful and interesting “Egregious Twaddle”, told me about one of the real historical figures that inspired Fleming’s James Bond was a real life spy by the name of Sidney Reilly, who at one time courted the Catholic mystic Caryll Houselander . If you have never heard of or read Houselander’s literary corpus you are missing out on some of the best spiritual writing of the last century.
It is hard to think of Caryll Houselander as a “Bond Girl”, but truth is stranger than fiction- and at least in terms of what seems to be the Catholic connection to James Bond, somewhat more interesting.
Father Steve Grunow is the Assistant Director of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries.
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