Beliefnet
Faith, Media & Culture

Here’s today’s FM&C Hot List.

1. Faith Ford’s role in Field of Vision hit home. I had the pleasure of participating in an online chat with the Murphy Brown/Hope & Faith star about her latest work, Field of Vision, the latest in the P&G-Walmart Family Movie Night series of TV movies set to air this Saturday night on NBC (8:00 PM ET).  The movie, which contains a fantasy elements concerning a camera with mystical properties, deals directly with the universal real-life issue of high school bullying.

For Ford, who plays the role of the mother of a teenager forced to make a moral decision regarding the issue says the story really touched her partly because she herself recalls being bullied in school.

“I have had personal experiences with bulling in elementary school,” she remembers, “because I was a shy, skinny child.” Ford sees bullying as being an issue that impacts a lot of kids who either experience it or must decide who to react should they witness it.  “Different children are targets, she points out, “small, heavy, skinny…all are prime targets for bullying.”

How did she deal with being bullied? “I just found a couple of other Cory’s (the bullied teen in the film) and we stuck together and they eventually left me alone. I think like kids should stick together!”

The actress says she hopes the movie will serve as conversation starter for families and kids regarding the whole issue of bullying. It’s important she says “to support a climate of no bullying (and to) create a safe place for open dialogue in the household.” She also advises kids experiencing be bullied to “make some good friends that make you comfortable the way you are…There is truth to the adage that there is strength in numbers and thats whether we are like minded or not.” She adds “I hope audiences become encouraged to be strong in their convictions as a result of this film.”

Ford says one thing she liked about the film is that it has “a lot of heart…without being preachy.” She also enjoyed playing a strong female role, particularly admiring her characters “positive attitude” and “strength.” She notes that her mother (like her character in the film) was a school teacher and that she has maintained strong relationships with a couple of her female high school teachers to this day.

“My mother,” she remembers, “used to have discussions time every afternoon so we could review our whole day with her. If you start early with kids, they get used to doing it everyday.”

She says she’s not surprised by the popularity of the F&G-Walmart family films which have generally done well in the ratings with a minimum of network promotional support, elaborating “I feel that family time has been lost over the last few years in our society so I think this is a great help for parents to regain that family unity by utilizing a medium their kids are already comfortable with.”

Personally, she enjoyed shooting film in Atlanta which she describes as the “friendy south” and “a great environment to shoot in.” She also says she and the cast got along great.

As for the movie’s sci-fi/fantasy elements, she admits she’s not a particular fan of the genre but thinks it worked well in this context.

Ford says she looks for scripts that are uplifting and inspiring. Among the films she’s personally been inspired by are Terms of Endearment, Driving Miss Daisy and The Blind Side. She also enjoys 70’s era sitcoms ranging from The Brady Bunch to All in the Family.

And, has she ever heard from any of the kids that bullied her in school later on? “Not yet!” she reports.

Well, it’s plain to see that she got through that phase in her life and is doing just fine. A good lesson for all bullied kids to take to heart.

2. School counselors praise anti-bullying film. The aforementioned Field of Vision is receiving plaudits from some school counselors across the country with the Ohio School Counselor Association even placing its trailer (below) on the organizations web site.

Note: I’ll have a review of Field of Vision for tomorrow’s blog.

3. Poor Banished Children tops Ignatius Press slate of summer faith-themed novels.
Here’s how the website describes the book: Cast out of her superstitious, Maltese family, Warda turns to begging and stealing until she is fostered by an understanding Catholic priest who teaches her the art of healing. Her willful nature and hard-earned independence make her unfit for marriage, and so the good priest sends Warda to serve an anchorite, in the hope that his protégé will discern a religious vocation.
Such a calling Warda never has the opportunity to hear. Barbary pirates raid her village, capture her and sell her into slavery in Muslim North Africa. In the merciless land of Warda’s captivity, her wits, nerve, and self-respect are tested daily, as she struggles to survive without submitting to total and permanent enslavement. As she is slowly worn down by the brutality of her circumstances, she comes to believe that God has abandoned her and falls into despair, hatred, and a pattern of behavior which, ironically, mirrors that of her masters.
“Poor Banished Children” is the tale of one woman’s relentless search for freedom and redemption. The historical novel raises challenging questions about the nature of courage, free will, and ultimately salvation.
The book is written by Fiorella De Maria (The Cassandra Curse).

Also due out this summer are:

Fire of Love (From the Press Release) Award-winning Spanish author Jose Luis Olaizola uses love to frame this historical novel on the life of St. John of the Cross. “This historical novel paints a striking portrait of one of the most revered saints in history, in a landscape that makes the life and times of John of the Cross relevant to our own age,” said Leonardo Defilippis, the actor who also directed the film “John of the Cross.”

Manalive (From the Press Release) This classic novel by the brilliant G. K. Chesterton tells the rollicking tale of Innocent Smith, a man who may be crazy – or possibly the most sane man of all. Beautifully written, mixing the ridiculous with the profound, full of hilarious dialogue and lushly detailed writing, “Manalive” demonstrates why life is worth living, and that sometimes we need a little madness just to know we are alive.

Toward the Gleam (From the Press Release) In the tradition of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, Author T.M. Doran takes readers on an intriguing, mysterious journey. In a richly imaginative story that features a giant pirate and slaver, a human chameleon on a perilous metaphysical journey, a mysterious hermit, and creatures both deadly and beautiful, Doran explores the consequences of the predominant ideas of the 20th Century.

4. What is YOUCAT? YOUCAT, the Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church, will impact more than 40,000 Catholic teens in the United States and Canada this summer – even before the book is widely distributed during 2011 World Youth Day in Madrid.
Ignatius Press, publishers of the English-language edition of the book, and Franciscan University of Steubenville have teamed up on promoting YOUCAT at 17 Steubenville Conferences in the U.S. and one in Canada. The project also involves the development of a “Jeopardy-style game show” featuring content from the book.
“We are pleased to announce this partnership because of the impact it will have by introducing tens of thousands of young North American Catholics to YOUCAT,” says Ignatius Press President Mark Brumley, adding “In his foreword to the book, Pope Benedict XVI clearly states his desire that these young people become ‘more deeply rooted in the faith than the generation of your parents….’ Given the theme of the 2011 Steubenville Conferences – ‘Rooted’ – it’s exciting for Ignatius to work with Franciscan University in providing access to YOUCAT during the conferences.”

5. Radio counselor joins Family Honor. Popular  psychotherapist, author, speaker and radio host, Dr. Gregory Popcak and his wife/co-host Lisa have signed on with Family Honor, a South Carolina-based chastity education organization as Family and Marriage Consultants. They will assist the organization in “providing a wider range of resources and services to parents, families, parishes and dioceses.”
Dr. Popcak is the Executive Director and Senior Clinician for the Pastoral Solutions Institute, an organization dedicated to helping Catholics discover answers to tough questions about marriage, family and personal life in a way that is faithful to Church teaching. He’s a nationally recognized expert in Catholic pastoral counseling and marriage and family problems and is the author of ten books integrating the faith with counseling psychology.
Lisa Popcak is Vice President of the Pastoral Solutions Institute, a Family Life Coach and professional educator in her own right and co-author of many of her husband’s books. Together Greg and Lisa  host a newly launched Catholic radio show called More2Life—a Theology of the Body-based advice program. More2Life explores practical ways to live out Blessed Pope John Paul II’s teachings known as the Theology of the Body. Prior to their new show, The Popcaks hosted an advice show on The Catholic Channel on SiriusXM.
About the new gig, Dr. Greg Popcak says “Family Honor’s mission and vision for families is so closely aligned with that of the Pastoral Solutions Institute, and we are glad to be working together, empowering families to understand and live God’s gift of human sexuality.”
More information about Family Honor can be found at www.FamilyHonor.org.

6. Is Newsweek’s cover featuring Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith disrespectful?From The Wrap: Tina Brown promised to reinvent  Newsweek with the magazine’s makeover last March. It took three months, but she’s finally making waves.
The moldering weekly has kicked up a controversy with a new examination of Mormonism, the controversial religion’s starring role in the Broadway musical “The Book of Mormon,” and status as the faith of choice for presidential aspirants Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman, Jr.

7. Surfing Madonna raises art vs. graffiti issue in SoCal.From The Blaze: The surfing Madonna appeared just before Easter weekend and has been stirring a soulful debate in this Southern California beach town ever since.
The striking mosaic of the Virgin of Guadalupe riding a wave was affixed to a wall under a train bridge by artists disguised as construction workers in April. It technically is graffiti that should be removed under the law.
But the surfing Madonna’s beauty is drawing a mass following, and even city officials who say she must go acknowledge they too have been taken by her. They have spent thousands to hire an art conservation agency to find the best way to remove her without causing damage.

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

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