By John Ruberry

I was out of town in July when Detroit, the movie about the destructive 1967 riot and a police attack on a small group of guests at the Algiers Motel, hit the theaters. Directed by Kathryrn Bigelow, who is best known for Zero Dark Thirty and the Academy Award-winning The Hurt Locker, is again teamed with scriptwriter Mark Boal. It stars John Borega, renowned for his role in the Star Wars reboot, as a torn African-American, who despite good intentions gets pulled into the carnage and the aftermath of the upheaval.

But by the time I got back home and found the time to see Detroit it was gone from theaters. Even before the Harvey Weinstein-ignited sex scandals, 2017 was an annus horribilis for Hollywood. Yes, Wonder Woman and Beauty and the Beast were tremendous hits, there were many notable flops, and among them was Detroit. That’s a pity because it is a masterful piece of filmmaking.

Last night I watched it by way of OnDemand on Xfinity.

The 1967 Detroit Riot is the demarcation line in history for that city, just as the Potato Famine is for Ireland and the defeat of the Armada is for Spain. It’s the Motor City’s before-and-after moment. “Ah, but that was before the riot,” or “riots,” sometimes the plural form is used, is something all Detroiters of a certain age say. Prior to the riot Detroit was America’s fifth-largest city, but now, for the first time since 1850, Detroit is not among America’s twenty-most populous cities. In 1950 Detroit was America’s most prosperous municipality, now it is one of its poorest. True, Detroit’s problems were evident in the 1950s and early 1960s, but at the time the few people paying attention to such things viewed that period as a rough patch or perhaps nothing more than a modest transitional period.

Fox Theatre one month ago

The world premiere of Detroit took place at the Fox Theatre two days after the 50th anniversary of the start of the riot, the old movie palace is the setting of one of the scenes in the movie. The film begins with an undermanned police raid of a black-run speakeasy–called a “blind pig” in Detroit–that quickly turns into a widespread tumult of looting, arson, and death. Archival news footage shows the devestation followed by a clip of Governor George Romney, Mitt’s father, announcing that the Michigan National Guard has been called out. By the end of the five-day riot Michigan state troopers and federal troops had been dispatched to Detroit as well.

Among the riot scenes is one with now-disgraced US Rep. John Conyers (Laz Alonso) urging a crowd for calm–they ignore him. Five months ago Conyers was still a civil rights icon. Now Conyers is shunned.

But most of the movie is centered on police tormenting suspects and witnesses at the Algiers, the reputed site of a sniper attack. After a performance by the Dramatics–who later gained fame for the hit “Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get,” one of the group’s members, Larry Reid (Algee Smith), along with his personal assistant, take refuge at the Algiers, which is located just outside of the Virginia Park neighborhood, the heart of the riot zone. For a while it seems that despite the haze of the smoke from the arson fires and the constant sirens, the Algiers is the smart choice to have a party while Detroit burns. That is until an evil Detroit police officer, Philip Krauss (Will Poulter), his two racist partners, troops from the National Guard, and Melvin Dismukes (Borega), a security guard, storm the Algiers in search of a sniper, who we know is Carl Cooper (Jason Mitchell), who simply but recklessly fired a track and field starting pistol. What follows is a series of intense torture-filled series of interrogations. Two young white prostitutes, one of them is portrayed by Hannah Murphy, who plays Gilly in Game of Thrones, are among those brutalized.

“I’m just gonna assume you’re all criminals,” Krauss tells them. One of those “criminals” is Robert Greene (Anthony Mackie), a Vietnam veteran who came to Detroit like hundreds of thousand of others before him–he is simply looking for work. Don’t forget, the blind pig raid busted up a party welcoming two other Vietnam vets home. Krauss denigrates Greene, says he “probably just drove a supply truck” while serving and accuses of him of being the pimp for the prostitutes.

Later Krauss asks the women, “Aren’t you ashamed of yourselves, having sex with n*ggers?” The other prostitute replies, “It’s 1967, a**hole.” But the mixing of blacks and whites was still a problem for many 50 years ago.

Blogger at the site of where the riot started

Finally and tragically the Algiers incident ends but the legal ramifications please few. Conyers appears again. And one of the characters finds deliverance.

Like Zero Dark Thirty, the feeling of Detroit is claustrophobic, which of course is intentional. The lighting isn’t perfect, that approach undoubtedly was chosen to enmesh Bigelow’s scenes with the archive footage.

Understandably Detroit is still coming to terms with the ’67 riot. I visited Virginia Park last month, while there are still many abandoned homes–this is Detroit after all–there are some new ones too. The site of the long-ago razed blind pig and the neighboring stores where the riot broke out is now a park–albeit one that no children were playing in. To be fair it was a chilly autumn afternoon. In July a Michigan historical marker was erected at that site. On the flipside, sandwiched between New Center and the mansions of Boston-Edison, where Henry Ford, Ty Cobb, Joe Louis, and Berry Gordy once lived, Virginia Park’s future appears bright. Deliverance may be coming there soon too.

Besides Xfinity OnDemand, Detroit is also available on DVD. The trailer is viewable here.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Rosary cupcakes a delicious devotion

An argument arose among the disciples about which of them was the greatest. Jesus realized the intention of their hearts and took a child and placed it by his side and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. For the one who is least among all of you is the one who is the greatest.”

Then John said in reply, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow in our company.” Jesus said to him, “Do not prevent him, for whoever is not against you is for you.”

Luke 9:46:50

One of the things that a Catholic sees over the years is an incredible array of different devotion that various people insist IS the devotion you should pray, or that THIS devotion is the one that will finally get your kids or grandkids to church or change the heart of that horrible boss of yours or will bring peace to your friend or finally get the world on the right track.

Then there are all the various prayers and chaplets from the standard Rosary, to the Divine Mercy Chaplet, the St. Michael Chaplet, The Litany of the Saints , the Penitential Psalms and the prayers of various saints.

And beyond that if you go to a divine mercy chapel or to some other place of devotion you will without fail find home made slips with various special prayers that can be prayed on a standard Rosary or various chapelts

In fact I even contributed to this with my own bloggers prayer on my site that went up as soon as my pastor at the time approved it.  It goes like this:

Oh God, you who gave free will to your creation, bless those who use that precious gift to blog

May we though this gift of freedom of expression enlighten, entertain and inform our readers, and we ask particular blessing for those who bring your word across the net, that they may faithfully execute your command to make disciples of all nations.

We ask this  through Christ our Lord, Amen.

This situation is  amplified by 10 if you write about the church, attend Catholic events or go to any national event.  The number of such devotions you are exposed to, involving saints both ancient and modern, miracles long forgotten or new and all kinds of revelations to the point where you realize that not only is God not dead as the left insisted in the sixties but he and the saints still seem to be working overtime for the salvation of souls.

But that leaves the questions on the floor?  Of all of these various devotions:

What are the best ones to pray?

and

Which one are the most likely to be answered?

The answer to both questions is the same: all of them.

In terms of what you should or should not pray, as long as your it is legitimate, unherticial and not forbidden by the Church, ANY prayer, devotion or practice that is the direct worship of God the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit or intercessory in nature asking the Blessed Mother or the saints to pray and intercede with God the Father, the Son or the Holy Spirit  either directly, is of value and worth encouraging.

The idea is not so which prayers or devotion you embrace but that you regularly pray bringing your devotions to the Lord and make such prayer habitual.  It is that regular prayer, whether the liturgy of the hours, a daily rosary or regular adoration or whatever devotion you embrace that will bring you closer to God and if you find you are more inclined to one devotion more than another by all means go with it.

My rule of thumb is the best prayer is the one you actually DO.

As for which prayers will be answered the likely hood God answering any prayer is dependent not so much on the prayer used, but on the following:

Your request being in accordance with the will of God.

If what your praying for is contrary to God’s will, it’s just not going to happen.  The desire for God to do our will via prayer rather than the desire of us to accomplish God will through prayer is not only ineffective but is conducive to the Sin of Pride.  If we treat our communication with God like the voice taking your order in a drive through we shouldn’t be surprised if we open the bag after leaving and find something other than what we expected.

Your faith in God’s ability to answer your request.   Presuming your request is in accord with God will faith is still a key ingredient.   Over and over in scripture Jesus notes where faith is the difference between a prayer even by a person “unworthy” (“Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s scraps.” Then he said to her, “For saying this, you may go. The demon has gone out of your daughter.” MK 7:28,29) being granted to a prayer by the worthiest ( Jesus rebuked him and the demon came out of him, and from that hour the boy was cured. Then the disciples approached Jesus in private and said, “Why could we not drive it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. “Mt 17:18-20a ) Just as faith without works is dead, prayer without faith is just words without meaning.  It’s worth noting that a sign of faith in prayer is persistence in prayer.

The disposition of the Target of a prayer.  This is a function of the freedom God provides us as humans.  One of the most common prayers you will run into is someone praying for the conversion to the faith or that someone will find their way to God.  These prayers are of great use and can aid a guardian angel in opening doors and opportunities for such repentance but while our guardian angel is always on the job and God never tires of opening doors that lead to his right hand in the end a person has to be willing to take step however small to seize that opportunity, walk though that door or grasp that hand.  Furthermore we have to remember it’s not WHEN such a thing takes place but THAT such a thing takes place that matters.    So be persistent as the Holy Spirit does the heavy lifting.

So here is my advice:   Pray liberally, wait patiently and have faith that while you might not know what God & the Holy Spirit is doing, he does.

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Finally might I suggest my book  Hail Mary the Perfect Protestant (and Catholic) Prayer makes an excellent Gift for the person of faith on your Christmas list?