I really like some of Elton John’s music. I remember listening to his album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road when I was about eight years old. I remember being amazed at the fact that it was almost as good as the Beatles albums my older siblings played. Even though I have never been fond of the pop sound he produced in the ’80s and ’90s, there is no question that many of his earlier works will prove timeless.
Even so, I could never be convinced that the Catholic Church should be collaborating with Elton John or anyone affiliated with Elton John. Therefore, the recent discovery that the Vatican provided $1 million toward the filming of Rocketman (through Peter’s Pence) is disturbing. A lot of what comes out of the Vatican these days is disturbing.
I’ve actually seen Rocketman. It is not something I would have paid to see. I was on an airplane to Atlanta, and it came up as an option, which I cautiously chose in the hopes that the music would be really good.
The movie was both surprising and disturbing. It was surprising, because I think it showed a lot of truth about Elton John’s life and the human person. (Also, the music was really good.) It was disturbing because many people (including Elton John himself) will not recognize that truth.
I do not recommend that you watch the movie. Not only would you be supporting a business venture that attempts to normalize and glorify sodomy, but there just isn’t that much to see that I cannot provide to you here.
You have probably heard people say homosexuality is genetic. This is the “born this way” argument. We all now know that this isn’t true. We always knew that it wasn’t true, but LGBT advocates hoped it was and often alleged it as true because science had not shown it to be false. This all changed recently with the release of a study that clearly shows that same-sex attraction is not genetic. While genetics likely play some part in same-sex attraction, genetics is not “the” cause, nor is it the prominent factor. As honest experts have said for years, it is one of many factors.
You have probably also heard people say that a troubled relationship with one or both parents is a major cause of homosexuality. This is true. It is also the obvious cause in Elton John’s life. In fact, there is no question that much of Elton John’s sexual orientation, drug and alcohol addiction, and emotional struggles is closely related to, if not caused by, the poor relationship he had with his cold-hearted father and, to a lesser extent, with his boozing and distracted mother.
I am not concerned about spoiling Rocketman for you by telling you about the movie, because it is not as though there is a plot twist in Elton John’s life. He is an extremely gifted musician, and his gift was obvious at a young age. However, his mother was not a solid foundation for him, and his father Stanley was totally incapable of showing love to Elton (then named Reginald Dwight) at any point from birth until the day he walked out of the Dwight home, never to return. It is as if Stanley Dwight actually hated his son.
Years later, after John had found fame and fortune, he tried to reconnect with his father. The movie depicts it in a scene in which John pulls up to a small home and is greeted by Stanley, coldly, who had remarried and started a new family. In the scene, Stanley invites John into his home, where he clearly exhibits a very close and warm relationship with his two young sons (John’s half-brothers) while continuing to remain aloof, stiff, and cold toward John. At the end of the scene, Stanley asks John to autograph one of his albums. John begins to address it to Stanley, but Stanley stops him and explains that it is for a friend at work, so John scribbles out the salutation to his father and simply signs the album before handing it back to Stanley. John then returns to his chauffeured car, in obvious agony. Such coldness toward a child is guaranteed to cause serious harm to the child, and Elton John stands as evidence.
Throughout the movie, John continues to seek love, appreciation, and peace, through nearly everything the world has to offer. Whether it is music, sex, drugs, alcohol, fame, or any other worldly thing, he has tried it to excess. And Each effort ends in more agony. To many of us, it is obvious that he is only trying to patch up his wounded heart by packing it with artificial remedies. To many others, it simply looks like a human triumph over various challenges.
One has to wonder if Elton John has ever heard of St. Augustine and his famous line from Confessions: “Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you, O Lord.”
While the movie intends to celebrate someone who appears to have overcome a lot of obstacles, it actually shows the enormous gap between worldly success and praise and God’s plan. God’s plan includes parents who actually love their children and who behave in a way that conveys that love. When that breaks down, such as in Elton John’s case, the results are often disastrous, especially in a world where there are plenty of people who will celebrate the brokenness instead of helping the child or the young adult address the wound in a way that is psychologically, physically, and spiritually sound. If Rocketman is at all close to the reality of Elton John’s life, he has not been offered anything close to this, and the result has been disastrous. Yes, he has fame, fortune, and a life full of privilege, but it is obvious that he still needs more, and then comes eternity.
The Vatican should not have invested in this movie. It is one small scandal among numerous very serious financial scandals in the Church right now, but it is a scandal nonetheless, because it combines financial scandal with the Vatican’s acceptance of homosexuality. It is an indication that the Vatican’s acceptance of homosexuality is likely deeper and more mainstream than it has appeared on the surface. Even though Rocketman shows the destruction of homosexuality, many people will see it as the glorification of homosexuality. I fear that many of these people are in high positions in the Church.
This is just another red flag for Pope Francis and others who are in positions of authority in the Church. Will the faithful continue to look the other way while a “gay lobby” works in the Vatican; while “gay-friendly” priests are appointed as bishops; and while well known priests publish books, travel the world, and flood social media with LGBT propaganda?
If the Vatican is going to spend a million dollars on any movie, it should spend it on a movie about St. Peter Damian. Then it should be required viewing for every bishop, bishop’s assistant, member of the curia, and Vatican employee.
Mr. Sullivan resides in Hastings, Nebraska with his wife Carmen and their five daughters, where Bob practices law and serves on the Hastings Public School Board. Bob has been engaged in evangelization and apologetics for many years, with his literary pieces published by Catholic Answers Magazine, Crisis Magazine, Regina Magazine, Those Catholic Men, and The Catholic Gentleman, plus a regular column in the Southern Nebraska Register. He also blogs at www.bsullivan.org. You can follow him on Twitter (@BobSullivan87) and Facebook (bob.sullivan.10004).