Faith, Media & Culture

Here are today’s dispatches from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.

1. 2011 Catholic Media Convention  convenes tomorrow in Pittsburgh. This year the annual gathering of Catholic media professionals note the 100th anniversary of The Catholic Press Association (one of the event’s organizers).View event website.

Also featured, previews of three upcoming faith-based films. Details below.

THE MIGHTY MACS recounts the original Cinderella story of women’s college basketball. It’s about faith, commitment and the triumph of the human spirit … about anyone who has ever had a dream. Cathy Rush – a woman ahead of her time – takes a seemingly unnoticeable position as the head basketball coach at tiny Immaculata, an all-girls Catholic college in suburban Philadelphia. Courage and determination help her overcome a myriad of obstacles and, in the end, Rush leads a ragtag group of girls to the first-ever national championship in women’s college basketball.

COURAGEOUS is an action-packed police drama about law enforcement officers Adam Mitchell, Nathan Hayes, David Thomson and Shane Fuller, who are confident and focused. Yet at the end of the day, they face a challenge that none of them are truly prepared to tackle — fatherhood. While they consistently give their best on the job, good enough seems to be all they can muster as dads. But they’re quickly discovering that their standard is missing the mark. When tragedy hits home, these men are left wrestling with their hopes, their fears, their faith and their fathering. Can a newfound urgency help these dads draw closer to God … and to their children?

SAINT AUGUSTINE is the first full-length feature movie on the life of Saint Augustine. In 430 AD, in the besieged city of Hippo, the 70-year-old Bishop Augustine tells Jovinus, a captain of the Roman guards, the story of how his Christian mother, Monica, saved him. Born in North Africa, Augustine studied in Carthage, becoming an accomplished but dissolute orator. After converting to Manichaeism, a guilt-free religion, he was called to the imperial court in Milan to serve as an opponent to the Christian bishop Ambrose. But when the Empress Justina sends imperial guards to clear out a basilica where Monica is worshipping, her constant prayers and the witness of Ambrose win him over to Christianity. Back in Hippo, Bishop Augustine urges the Roman garrison to negotiate with the Vandal King Genseric, but they proudly refuse. He passes up a chance to escape on a ship sent to rescue him by the Pope, and stays by the side of his people.

2. The man from GLAAD is out (of a job). From The Wrap: Under the leadership of president Jarrett Barrios, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance deftly exploited the net to pull off a string of high-profile public victories, shaming Tracy Morgan for his recent homophobic rants and movie studio Universal for gay slurs in the Vince Vaughn comedy “The Dilemma.” But GLAAD’s momentum — and Barrios’ career — were derailed by the blogosphere last week.
The same blogs and bloggers who helped GLAAD pressure Morgan into his rainbow tinged public apology tour with stop-offs to visit homeless gay teens, pummeled the advocacy group over corporate donations from AT&T. The net-roots firestorm that ensued led to the resignation of Barrios last weekend.
Come Monday, GLAAD was still struggling to control a burgeoning public relations crisis after bloggers and SiriusXM radio host Michelangelo Signorile unearthed evidence that the group had lobbied the Federal Communications Commission on behalf of AT&T’s proposed acquisition of T-Mobile, while also coming out against net neutrality.

3. The Wrap pans debut of Olbermann’s new Countdown. From The Wrap: Acting like a liberal cartoon drawn by Ann Coulter – president of the not-helping-their-cause-club – Olbermann ranged from dry and dull to overblown and pompous.

4. Rescue me from Denis Leary’s new show. From The Wrap: USA Network announced Monday that the “Rescue Me” actor will write and develop a half-hour adaptation of the British series “Sirens,” a dark comedy about paramedics…”Swept along by an endless tide of bodily fluids rarely their own,” writes USA Network in an official release, “the ‘Sirens’ trio bicker, fight and shag their way through the darkly funny maelstrom of their lives. Behind the uniforms, the sirens, and the incredibly fast driving, they are three ordinary blokes trying to make it through yet another shift. But once they’ve finished saving other people’s lives, they need to salvage their own.”
Comment: Great, another sex-obsessed “dark comedy.”  Leary, of course, is the same guy who managed to take the concept of a series about NYC firefighters after 9/11 and give us stories like this (per Wikipedia):

Controversy surrounded Rescue Me after an episode in season 3 (“Sparks”) showed Tommy raping his ex-wife, Janet. A few minutes later, Tommy leaves the home and Janet is on the couch reading a magazine. Two episodes later (“Zombies”), Janet forces herself on Tommy to make them “even”.

I don’t know about you, but I prefer shows about real heroes — you know, the kind that don’t rape people.

5. Chaos theory. From TV by the Numbers: The final original weekly edition of America’s Most Wanted on Fox (it will remain as a quarterly special next season) ended with a 1.1 adults 18-49 rating and combined with reality stablemate Cops which aired its season finale and a repeat which averaged a 1.2 rating to once again top Saturday night’s ratings. The only other new episode on broadcast Saturday night, the continuing burn off of cancelled Chaos gave off a slightly bigger puff of smoke than last week, with a 0.6 adults 18-49 rating, up a tenth from last week. The only other new episode on broadcast Saturday night, the continuing burn off of cancelled Chaos gave off a slightly bigger puff of smoke than last week, with a 0.6 adults 18-49 rating, up a tenth from last week.
Comment: Has anyone at CBS (or elsewhere) noticed that the ratings for this burn-off espionage comedy/adventure have been going up each week — and that’s with virtually no promotion. Imagine if the network actually got behind the show. Which it should because Chaos is old-fashioned escapist entertainment that manages to be  a bit edgy without being cynical. The heroes are actually heroes — you know, the kind that don’t rape people. 

Cast of Chaos

6. Roger Ebert’s tweets his way into controversy. From Hollywood Reporter: Roger Ebert sparked outrage on Twitter when he reacted to Jackass star Ryan Dunn’s fatal car accident — which happened a few hours after he posted a photo of himself drinking online — by Tweeting, “Friends don’t let Jackasses drink and drive.” But the film critic stands by what he said on Twitter.
Comment: Leaving aside Ebert’s legitimate point about drunk driving, is it really necessary to post a snarky comment within hours of such a tragedy? As Ebert notes, two people died. Can’t there even be a one day moratorium on the oh-so-clever biting wit.

7. Evolving ideas.From The Christian Post: Can the theories of science and story of creation be united in (a) way that affirms the veracity of the Bible? Oxford Math Professor John Lennox says it can happen. In his recently published book, Seven Days that Divide the World, Lennox sets out to prove that Christians can believe in the theories of science and maintain the truth of Scripture.
Comment: Personally, I never really got the contradiction.

8. Jon Stewart wrong? Say it isn’t so! From PolitiFact: On the June 19, 2011, edition of Fox News Sunday, comedian Jon Stewart — host of The Daily Show on Comedy Central — sat down for an interview with Chris Wallace. Many readers asked us to review one of his claims. “Who are the most consistently misinformed media viewers?” Stewart asked Wallace. “The most consistently misinformed? Fox, Fox viewers, consistently, every poll.”…So we have three Pew studies that superficially rank Fox viewers low on the well-informed list, but in several of the surveys, Fox isn’t the lowest, and other general-interest media outlets — such as network news shows, network morning shows and even the other cable news networks — often score similarly low. Meanwhile, particular Fox shows — such as The O’Reilly Factor and Sean Hannity’s show — actually score consistently well, occasionally even outpacing Stewart’s own audience…The way Stewart phrased the comment, it’s not enough to show a sliver of evidence that Fox News’ audience is ill-informed. The evidence needs to support the view that the data shows they are “consistently” misinformed — a term he used not once but three times. It’s simply not true that “every poll” shows that result. So we rate his claim False.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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