With the final season of “Game of Thrones” premiering April 14, St. Dominic Parish in San Francisco hosted a panel to discuss a Catholic approach to watching the hit television show. 

Dominican Father Isaiah Mary Molano, St. Dominic’s parochial vicar, along with the parish’s adult faith formation director Michael Smith and parishioner Anne Marie Fowler, spoke about the moral and ethical aspects of the show, its redemptive value and some themes Catholics can keep in mind while viewing it. 

Now in its eighth season, “Game of Thrones” has been praised for its intricate storytelling and compelling characters while criticized for its pervasive brutality and sexual objectification. Anne Marie Fowler said that while concern over “Game of Thrones’” immoral content and how it affects viewers is legitimate – “the show is filled with the seven deadly sins every moment” – it was important to address “whether persons of faith can welcome conversations about characters looking for redemption.” 

Drawing on the writing of the mid-century Reformed theologian and intellectual Reinhold Niebuhr, Smith laid out for the audience different models for how Christians approach culture. According to Niebuhr, Christians historically have either set themselves against their culture, subsumed their faith to it, separated the two realms entirely or argued that faith and culture agree on only some points and cannot be completely reconciled. Niebuhr found the most dominant approach one in which Christians evangelize their culture and transform it to bring it closer to Christ.

Smith said a show like “Game of Thrones” offers Catholics the opportunity to take “a sacred look” at pop culture and use it as an opening for evangelization. 

“Our mission is not just to come into the world on a solo walk,” he said. “We are called to baptize all nations and seek the good and proclaim the Gospel to others.”

At the same time, Smith cautioned the audience about the effect a show like “Game of Thrones” can have on a person’s moral imagination.

“We’re not impervious where things just glide off us,” he said.  

While Smith said he would not personally recommend the show, he encouraged people to discern for themselves whether to watch it and consider how the show could be a bridge to evangelizing conversations. 

Full story at Catholic San Francisco.