Faith, Media & Culture

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

1. Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s “Way” with words. During his historic address to Pope Benedict over the weekend, New York’s newly-elevated spiritual leader offered something of a movie review:

“We as believers, must have at heart even those people who consider themselves agnostics or atheists. When we speak of a new evangelization these people are perhaps taken aback. They do not want to see themselves as an object of mission or to give up their freedom of thought and will. Yet the question of God remains present even for them. As the first step of evangelization we must seek to keep this quest alive; we must be concerned that human beings do not set aside the question of God, but rather see it as an essential question for their lives. We must make sure that they are open to this question and to the yearning concealed within. I think that today too the Church should open a sort of “Court of the Gentiles” in which people might in some way latch on to God, without knowing him and before gaining access to his mystery, at whose service the inner life of the Church stands.

“This is my first point: we believe with the philosophers and poets of old, who never had the benefit of revelation, that even a person who brags about being secular and is dismissive of religion, has within an undeniable spark of interest in the beyond, and recognizes that humanity and creation is a dismal riddle without the concept of some kind of creator.

“A movie popular at home now is The Way, starring a popular actor, Martin Sheen. Perhaps you have seen it. He plays a grieving father whose estranged son dies while walking the Camino di Santiago di Campostella in Spain. The father decides, in his grief, to complete the pilgrimage in place of his dead son. He is an icon of a secular man: self-satisfied, dismissive of God and religion, calling himself a “former Catholic,” cynical about faith . . . but yet unable to deny within him an irrepressible interest in the transcendent, a thirst for something — no, Someone — more, which grows on the way.”

Read Dolan’s entire address at CNS.

Comment: I think that’s what Roger Ebert might call a “Thumbs Way up” review. Ebert, BTW, liked it too though not quite as much as I did.

Note: Thanks to all of you who responded to The Way DVD give-away.  Sorry, but I have no more free copies available. Congratulations to the winners.

2. The Vatican, meanwhile, likes pro-life Doonby. From U.S. News & World Report: L’Osservatore Romano—which is sometimes referred to as “the semi-official newspaper of the Holy See”—has given it a glowing review. Gianfranco Grieco, office head at the Pontifical Council for the Family, wrote that Doonby is a moving and thought-provoking psychological thriller on many levels with a haunting finale that will linger in your mind and obsess your consciousness as you tackle a puzzle that will challenge each and every perception or conviction while you experience forlorn feelings of speechlessness and shock, but ultimately of liberation!
Note: The movie, about a mysterious drifter in a small Texas town, stars John Schneider (The Dukes of Hazzard, Smallville), Robert Davi, Jennifer O’Neill and, in a small but pivotal role, Norma McCorvey, the Roe v.Wade plaintiff turned pro-life activist.

Checkout the Doonby website here.

3. Magic Johnson’s high TV aspirations. From NESN: The Hall-of-Famer is reportedly set to launch his own television network named “ASPIRE,” with an emphasis on programming targeted at an African-American audience…Johnson says the network, which is launching in June with a partnership with Comcast, will focus on “positive, uplifting images” of African-Americans, with a mix of TV, film, comedy and music.

Comment: The network joins Bounce TV in offering positive programming geared toward an African-American audience. It’s a trend I applaud. Now, I wish some smart media mogul would launch a similar network aimed at the larger population. Positivity isn’t niche.

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

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