Early Jesus films reveled in the traditional, historically inaccurate interpretation of Mary Magdalene as a penitent prostitute. While films produced since the 1980s are less heavy-handed in explicitly sexualizing or shaming Mary, promiscuity remains her most persistent trait. Traces of the penitent prostitute are detectable in The Chosen, a crowd-funded evangelical series on the life of Jesus which foregrounds Mary as a disciple. Her story arc in The Chosen mirrors that of the prostitute protagonist in Redeeming Love (2022), another evangelical film based on Francine River’s fictional adaptation of the Hosea/Gomer story. Both works adhere closely to what film scholar, Russell Campbell, identifies as the ‘martyr’ character type and ‘love story’ narrative structure commonly found in cinematic depictions of sex work. Ultimately, these films reinscribe patriarchal ideology when the woman is rescued and reformed by a virtuous man at risk of his own reputation.
Unlike some religious traditions elsewhere, Philippine Catholicism readily recognized the severity of the Covid-19 pandemic as described by medical science and public health protocols. Given this general perspective, it promoted communal worship online and inclusive feeding programs – practices integral to Catholicism and rooted in the local religious ethos. The defining characteristics of these practices during the pandemic invite critical inquiry on its theological foundations. The first provides greater accessibility to the ekklesia and interrogates therefore the traditional notion of Catholic belonging and identity. The second exemplifies a more inclusive framework for social ministry on account of the wide diversity of roles among those involved and its integration of charitable services with structural change. Thus both practices challenge Philippine Catholicism to become a people of greater hospitality.