Faith, Media & Culture

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

1. Jesus Was a Commie — or so a new film suggests. From The Christian Post: Matthew Modine is currently on tour with a new short film that explores an idea which has been mentioned in public debate with more frequency of late: was Jesus a communist? Did Jesus speak against economic inequalities, or was he a capitalist who taught about rewards based on ability and achievement? According to The Huffington Post, Modine’s film frames the debates on poverty, pollution, and politics with Jesus’ teachings in the New Testament. The film’s synopsis also claims that Jesus would be a sympathizer with “Occupy Wall Street” (OWS) protesters.
Comment: I believe Jesus loves the Occupy Wall Street protesters. He also loves the Tea Partiers. He loves communists and He loves capitalists. I also think He really loves it when we love each other, try not to demonize people who disagree with us and maybe actually listen to what the other person is saying.  As the timeless poem Desiderata advises, we are wise to speak our truth quietly and clearly and to listen others, even those we believe to be dull and ignorant because, they to, have their story. Or, as Jesus put it, to do unto others as we would have them do unto us.

2. New Walmart/P&G family movie scheduled on NBC.  The ninth film airing under the popular Family Movie Night franchise Game of Your Life will air Friday, December 2nd @ 8:00 PM ET.  The new film tackles the world of  young video designers. Here’s the synopsis from the website:

When industrious high school gamer Zach Taylor lands a prized scholarship to the prestigious Digital Institute of Game Design (DIGD), his future breaks wide open. The opportunity to study under gaming legend Marcus Bentton and alongside the country’s most creative minds will certainly propel him into a successful career as a video game designer. That is, if he can pass the infamous freshman project that eliminates more than half of the class within the first three months.

Paired with brilliant yet socially awkward teammates Phillip and Donald, the trio persuades Sara Ramirez – a determined and striking team leader with whom Zach has a history (and possibly a future) – to join their team. Working off-campus in the teched-out Lincoln Alley loft, the four set out to involve the entire campus in a quirky new social interactive game. But as the group becomes entrenched in the project, Zach learns that his father Billy, a widower, is facing growing financial woes at home. To help out, Zach accepts an opportunity to work directly with Marcus Bentton on a secretive side project that seems too good to be true. The effort requires nearly all of Zach’s time and energy, which he should be devoting to the project. Struggling to keep it together, Zach is torn between his responsibility to his team, his admiration for Bentton and a chance to help his father.

Everything comes to a breaking point when Zach’s team threatens to remove him from the group and the deceptive truth behind Bentton’s project comes to light. With the guidance of Professor Abbie Lambert, Zach must make a decision that not only affects his future, but the lives and livelihoods of the people around him as well. It’s a revealing story that recognizes the magnitude behind the choices we make and the importance loyalty plays in making good decisions.

Comment: So far, these Walmart/P&G films have been a refreshing relief from the relentless onslaught of so-called “edgy” fare on the network TV schedules.  The two companies deserve a lot of credit for their initiative — which I urge viewers to continue to support.

3. Speaking of video games…November being Family Video Game Month, is out with its list of the ten best video games for, well, families.

Comment: The oddest thing about the self-proclamed family-friendly list is that some of the games contain “sexual” and “suggestive” themes. Perhaps, it’s mild stuff that’s okay for older kids.  Parents need to decide that for themselves.

In any event, here’s the list (in alphabetical order):

Camping Mama – Nintendo DS – ESRB: E (Everyone) with Comic Mischief – $29.99 – With minigames that combine elements of camping, crafting and cooking, Camping Mama lets kids enjoy the great outdoors from the warmth of indoors. Great for ages 7 and up.

Disneyland Adventures – Xbox 360 Kinect – $49.99 -ESRB: Rating Pending – Expected to be E (Everyone) –  Disneyland Adventures provides a fun, easy way to interact with familiar Disney characters and playworlds, from Main Street to Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, letting families live the Disneyland experience via Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect camera system.  Great for ages 4 and up.

Everybody Dance – PS3 Move – $39.99 – ESRB: T (Teen) with Sexual Themes – This all-new dance game for PlayStation Move is able to bring together the best of other popular dance titles, as well as add cool new features like a 20-player tournament or a Dance Party mode where you can simply set the time limit and have the game generate a playlist for you. Great for middle-schoolers and up.

Just Dance 3 – Wii, Xbox 360 Kinect, PS3 Move – $39.99 – ESRB: E 10+ (Everyone 10 and up) – The franchise that put dancing games back on the map is coming back for more in Holiday 2011, and this time up to four players will each have their own routines to perform.  With a forgiving scoring system, Just Dance 3 looks to remain the best choice for families who are looking to let young preschoolers play along, as long as you are mindful of a couple songs with potentially questionable lyrics. Great for all ages.

Mario Kart 3DS – Nintendo 3DS – $39.99 – ESRB: Rating Pending – Expected to be E (Everyone) – The ultimate competitive racing game that’s able to be enjoyed by all ages and skill levels.  With new items and customizable carts, you may need to make sure to buy a copy of Mario Kart for every family member with a 3DS. Great for ages 7 and up.

Rayman Origins – PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 – $59.99 – ESRB Rating – E 10+ (Everyone 10 and up) with Comic Mischief, Mild Cartoon Violence and Suggestive Themes – With a beautiful art style and a unique sense-of-humor, Rayman Origins lets up to four players work together to complete levels, allowing them to jump in and out of the action whenever they like.  Great for ages 10 and up.

Sesame Street Once Upon A Monster – Xbox 360 Kinect – $49.99 – ESRB Rating – E (Everyone) – A sort of interactive storybook, Sesame Street Once Upon A Monster follows Cookie Monster and Elmo through various adventures, using full-body Kinect controls to help progress the story.  Big, exaggerated motions will be necessary for preschoolers and parents as they giggle their way through Once Upon A Monster. Great for ages 3 to 6.

Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure – PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo 3DS – $69.99 – ESRB Rating – E 10+ (Everyone 10 and up) with Cartoon Violence – This cool blending of real-life toys with video games requires players to place collectible figures on the game’s “Portal of Power” in order to appear onscreen.  But once they do, they can be transferred to any friend’s game as well, regardless of the system.   For ages 10 and up.

 Sonic Generations – PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo 3DS – $49.99 – ESRB: E (Everyone) – One of the greatest easy-to-play games is back, combining 3D elements from recent Sonic games with classic side-scrolling gameplay from Sonic games of yesteryear. The speedy blue hedgehog is as easy as ever to play and enjoy for kids of all ages. Great for ages 7 and up.

Twister Mania – Xbox 360 Kinect – $49.99 – ESRB: E (Everyone) – Players will use their bodies to fit inside onscreen shapes to make them disappear from puzzles, or challenge other teams to match the shapes that they can make.  Blending competitiveness, cooperation and over-the-top Let Loose fun, Take Shape seems like the perfect game for any family gathering. Great for ages 5 and up.

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

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