Tuesday, February 4, 2014


"It comes from a deep-rooted conviction that if there is anything worthwhile doing for the sake of culture, then it is touching on subject matters and situations which link people, and not those that divide people. There are too many things in the world which divide people, such as religion, politics, history, and nationalism. If culture is capable of anything, then it is finding that which unites us all. And there are so many things which unite people. It doesn't matter who you are or who I am, if your tooth aches or mine, it's still the same pain. Feelings are what link people together, because the word 'love' has the same meaning for everybody. Or 'fear', or 'suffering'. We all fear the same way and the same things. And we all love in the same way. That's why I tell about these things, because in all other things I immediately find division."
--Krzysztof Kieślowski, [wikepedia]

"The Decalogue is a 1989 Polish television drama series directed by Krzysztof Kieślowski and co-written by Kieślowski with Krzysztof Piesiewicz, with music by Zbigniew Preisner. It consists of ten one-hour films, inspired by the Ten Commandments.Each short film explores one or several moral or ethical issues faced by characters living in modern Poland. The series is Kieślowski's most acclaimed work, has been said to be "the best dramatic work ever done specifically for television"  and has won numerous international awards, though it was not widely released outside Europe until the late 1990s]. Film-maker Stanley Kubrick wrote an admiring foreword to the published screen-play in 1991."




  1. In highschool, my daughter had a wonderful Moral Theology teacher who taught them about The Decalogue. I had never heard of it before and was fascinated by what my daughter was learning. This teacher wrote in a conclusion from the first lesson, "The discipline of moral theology is focused on a central question: how ought we live? Because modern people fail to attend to the first commandment, we fail to see the false gods we worship and therefore we fail to see how our actions are tied up with those false gods, as we saw with Kryzysztof. Moreover, we think we are generally good people because we never intentionally bring harm to others. But neither is true. Part of the task of moral theology is to help us identify our sinfulness. But to do this we must attend to God, for apart from our knowing the story of God, it is very difficult to know the story of human sinfulness. Despite the messiness if Kieslowski's story, we must be thankful that he put his talents to work on a project such as The Decalogue."
    I was a very grateful mother of a high school student!

  2. This is a very powerful series and worth watching.

    Just as a side note - I've lived in Poland, for stretches at a time, over the past 17 years. Because of Pope John Paul II and Lech Wałęsa, many people outside Poland think this is some great and faithful Catholic country. Kieślowski knew better. (And so did Karol Wojtyła, for that matter.) Poland is culturally Catholic, which simply means that it's so very easy for the Faith to become like the wallpaper in your living room. It's just there and hardly gets seriously regarded. There was a deep sickness in Poland's soul in the late 80's when Kieślowski made this series (this ought to be clear from watching it) and I think Poland's soul might be even more ill now in 2014. The Zeitgeist that reigns in North America and the rest of Europe has just about taken over here, too.

    I think the Church here took the people's faith for granted and there's been no real push for evangelization of the culture. The Church here is a mess and more people are opting to stay in bed on Sunday mornings.

  3. Thanks for posting the videos, Heather. I vaguely remember hearing about the series, but never had the opportunity to see any of it before. Very well done.

    And, Ellen, thank you for this: Part of the task of moral theology is to help us identify our sinfulness. But to do this we must attend to God, for apart from our knowing the story of God, it is very difficult to know the story of human sinfulness.

    Somewhere along the line that task of moral theology was sadly misplaced, because we now have a dominant culture that more and more thinks the last six commandments about how to live with our fellow humans will work all on their own.


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