Faith, Media & Culture

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

1.  Ricky Gervais “crucified” on cover of New Humanist Magazine. From The Christian Post: The September/October issue of the magazine features Gervais shirtless, but in jeans, holding a mic stand across his back as if he was being crucified. The words “atheist” in all capital letters are written above his chest in blood. A crown of thorns also adorns his head. Searching for the perfect image to use as a poster for his next tour dubbed “Humanity,” the well-known English director debated between the crucifix photo and another photo rejected by the Rolling Stone magazine where he painted his face like a clown and held a gun to his mouth. New Humanist decided to publish the crucifix photo in their latest issue, which reads on the cover, “You have the right to be offended, and I have the right to offend you,” spoken by Gervais.
Comment: Now the clown cover would have been shocking — and, offensive because it’s, you know, anti-clown. While mocking the Crucifixion is definitely offensive to me as a Christian, I’m well past the point where such publicity-seeking stunts garner anything more than a groan of disappointment from me. In this case, I’m disappointed because Gervais can actually be very funny — I just don’t understand his desire to offend me because I’m a Christian. I mean I wouldn’t take any joy in offending him — and would even try to avoid doing so.  My Christian faith instructs me to turn the other cheek, let go of anger, do unto others as I would have them do unto me and pray for everyone .  And, you know what, when I manage to do so, I’m happier for it.

2. Islamic Death threat provides monologue and Top 10 fodder for David Letterman. View here. Hey, Letterman (the lousy liberal) offends me sometimes too (am I sounding easily offended?) but I’m content just to turn the channel. Stephen Colbert’s funnier anyway.

3. Philadelphia’s incoming archbishop says Big Media is unfair to religion. From CNS: (Charles) Chaput, the former Archbishop of Denver, made his remarks in an address on religious freedom to a group of more than 10,000 young pilgrims in Madrid on Wednesday. As initially reported in First Things, Chaput told the audience that, “In the United States, our battles over abortion, family life, same-sex ‘marriage,’ and other sensitive issues have led to ferocious public smears and legal threats not only against Catholics, but also against Mormons, evangelicals, and other religious believers.”
“And with relatively few exceptions,” he said, “the mass media tend to cover these disputed issues with a combination of ignorance, laziness, and bias against traditional Christian belief.”
Comment: An alternative to changing the channel (or, you know, jihad) is creating you’re own media to present issues in a way that you think is more fair to your own point of view. With new technology, that’s becoming more possible than ever. Don’t complain. Certainly don’t threaten. Create.

4. Lino Rulli is a Sinner. But, then, aren’t we all.  The host of The Catholic Guy (on Sirius XM’s Catholic Channel) actually does create the kind of culture the soon-to-be archbishop would most likely approve of.  Besides his radio gig, he’s out with a new book called Sinner (he’s the title character). I’ve received a review copy (a perk of having a blog)  and I can report that he adeptly manages the fine art of irreverent reverence (or is it reverent irreverence?). Whether he’s recounting his own version of The Wonder Years (growing up the son of an organ grinder), his college-age misadventures or his stint as a high school religion teacher in the Bahamas (which sounds like a good premise for a sitcom), Lino manages to spin stories that entertain and, somehow (almost accidentally), inspire.
Full disclosure: I worked with Lino for nearly two years at the Catholic Channel. I produced the morning show (Seize the Day with Gus Lloyd) while Lino hosted  (still does) his afternoon drive-time extravaganza.  Reading the book was almost like listening to Lino speak — except, when  I got tired, I could put down the book. Seriously though, a good read.

Speaking of The Wonder Years

5. Whatever happened to Kevin Arnold?  From Hollywood Reporter: MTV is continuing its push into scripted programming with Bottomfeeders, a comedy project from Arden Myrin, Bruce McCoy and Fred Savage…Plot details are being kept under wraps but actor-turned producer Savage (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The Wonder Years) would executive produce the project and direct should the project receive a pilot order.
Comment: Maybe MTV, the network of Jersey Shore and the recently-canceled Hard Times of R.J. Berger (a coming-of-age comedy about a teen with a really big penis), should just change the whole network’s name to Bottomfeeders TV.  True, I haven’t seen the show — but, if the network’s track record is any indication, it’ll be crap — especially compared to a classic like The Wonder Years, the coming-of-age dramedy in which Savage played young Kevin Arnold from 1988 to 1993. As far as I can remember, in six seasons we were never given any clue as to the size of Kevin’s penis. Those were the days.

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

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