Faith, Media & Culture

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

1. Faith on display at 9/11 memorial ceremony. There was some controversy leading up to yesterday’s 10th anniversary event at Ground Zero regarding the exclusion of any sort of official religious invocation. I must say, if I was planning the itinerary, it would have struck me as a positive statement to include readings from a rabbi, priest or minister and an imam from their respective holy books. As it was, however, it was beautiful ceremony and one in which faith was very much in evidence.  From President Obama’s reading the 46th Psalm in the opening moments, through several mentions of The Creator from those that followed, including former President Bush (reading from a letter of Abraham Lincoln), former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (reading from the Book of Ecclesiastes) and several family members (in personal comments made while reading from the list of those murdered).  So, let’s not use the event to argue over religion, rather let’s our diverse faiths unite us under the One True God who created us all.

2. Mel Gibson to make Maccabee movie. From The Wrap: Mel Gibson, who before his more recent battles to salvage his image has filmed many a battle scene for the big screen, is teaming with often-controversial screenwriter Joe Eszterhas to create a biblical epic. The Anti-Defamation League quickly raised objections, citing his past history of reported slurs.
The teaming with Eszterhas has the legendary screenwriter preparing the script for Gibson to possibly collaborate on. His return from a lengthy hiatus  to participate alongside Gibson, who has an option to direct, is part of what stirred the surprise being expressed around own. For Eszterhas, it’s a possible return to the form that made for his meteoric rise as both craftsman and a generator of big-time popcorn hits like “Basic Instinct” and “Jagged Edge.”
What isn’t surprising is to see the film set up at Warner Bros., which has a long and positive history with the multi-hyphenate, more recently headine-making Gibson. One component of said headlines, of course, were some intemperately anti-Semitic remarks Gibson made to an arresting officer when pulled over on a Los Angeles highway. Some of the reviews of Gibson’s writing-directing effort “The Passion of the Christ”  cited similar implications, denied by Gibson.
In that light, Biblical hero
(Judah) Maccabee’s struggle for religious freedom against an oppressive and autocratic enemy certainly gains resonance.
Comment: As a man who believes in redemption, I hope Mr. Gibson uses his considerable God-given talent to make a move that celebrates the Jewish faith and goes a long way toward more than the rehabilitation of his public image. I hope it helps him personally heal as well.
As for Joe Eszterhas, from reading his book Crossbearer: A Memoir of Faith, he appears to have been on quite a spiritual journey of his own. The book tells the story of his own realization of God following some very dark times in his own life.  I actually think it too would make an excellent film.

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

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