Thursday, June 11, 2015

Lord Summerisle on Paganism, Christianity and Jesus

"They do not weep for their sins."

In The Wicker Man, one of the most entertaining and profound horror films ever made, the late Christopher Lee plays Lord Summerisle, the "Laird" of a Pagan community on a Scottish island. The articulate and gentlemanly representative of an ancient religion has a love of peace, a respect for nature and a hate streak for Christ. We learn only at the end what that must imply. Sergeant Howie is the policeman sent to the island to investigate an unexplained death...

Lord Summerisle (contemplating the movements of a snail): I think I could turn and live with animals. They are so placid and self-contained. They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins. They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God. Not one of them kneels to another or to his own kind that lived thousands of years ago. Not one of them is respectable or unhappy, all over the earth.

Sergeant Howie: Your lordship seems strangely... unconcerned.
Lord Summerisle: Well I'm confident your suspicions are wrong, Sergeant. We don't commit murder here. We're a deeply religious people.
Sergeant Howie: Religious? With ruined churches, no ministers, no priests... and children dancing naked!
Lord Summerisle: They do love their divinity lessons.
Sergeant Howie (outraged): But they are... are naked!
Lord Summerisle: Naturally! It's much too dangerous to jump through the fire with your clothes on!

Sergeant Howie: What religion can they possibly be learning jumping over bonfires?
Lord Summerisle: Parthenogenesis.
Sergeant Howie: What?
Lord Summerisle: Literally, as Miss Rose would doubtless say in her assiduous way, reproduction without sexual union.
Sergeant Howie: Oh, what is all this? I mean, you've got fake biology, fake religion... Sir, have these children never heard of Jesus?
Lord Summerisle: Himself the son of a virgin, impregnated, I believe, by a ghost...

(Note how the Pagan comes out against sexuality, at least when used for reproduction.)

Sergeant Howie: And what of the true God? Whose glory, churches and monasteries have been built on these islands for generations past? Now sir, what of him?
Lord Summerisle: He's dead. Can't complain, had his chance and in modern parlance, blew it.

Christopher Lee, as an actor and a Christian, sketched out the nature of evil for us, better than many saints.

The Wicker Man made me flinch. It also helped me understand.

Requiescat in pace, old friend.


  1. I never saw the movie. Now I'm gonna watch it. Thanks, Mr. Spalding!

    Seattle kim

  2. Great entry. Chilling movie. Horrific ending. BTW I added you to to my blog list. Actually my blog is completely disreputable, being written by a Bear and so forth. So if you want me to take you off, let me know. Yours truly, St. Corbinian's Bear.

    1. Thank you, St. Corbinian's Bear! I am honored. And, as an American, I support the rights of armed bears, or however it goes. I still think I'm slightly off the grid in terms of being aware of the good Catholic blogs out there. You're now added to my "Papists" section, unless you would prefer to be added to "Frenchmen"...