Faith, Media & Culture

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

Stephen Colbert reflects on his Catholic faith. The late-night comedian visited America House hosted by America Magazine Editor-at-Large James Martin. (h/t Big Hollywood)

Finding Jesus finds an audience. James Martin, a Jesuit priest, is among the contributors on CNN’s Finding Jesus: Faith, Fact, Forgery series which, according to Nielsen Fast National Data, debuted as the #1 cable news in its 9:00 PM (ET) time slot Sunday night (3/1) — winning in both total viewers and the 25-54 demo.

The opening episode, an exploration of the mystery surrounding the Shroud of Turin, outperformed the combined audience delivery of Fox News and MSNBC. The debut averaged over a million  total viewers, beating Fox News ( 634k) by over 80% and more than tripling the audience tuned to MSNBC (275k).  In the 25-54 demo Finding Jesus posted 371k, while Fox News and MSNBC both trailed with 111k. Finding Jesus is the second highest rated CNN Original Series premiere ever in total viewers (behind The Sixties) and the second highest rated in the demo 25-54 (behind Mike Rowe’s Somebody’s Gotta Do It).

Finding Jesus: Faith, Fact, Forgery continues next Sunday with an episode about John the Baptist.

Believe Me out on DVD and Blu-ray. The cautionary comedy about religious hucksterism is available via Walmart, Target and Amazon. I gave the film a good review when it debuted in theaters last fall saying it has “a message that challenges the choir and which it actually needs to hear.”

Comment: I still think that’s true — although I think its fair to say that followers of other more secular causes can also be prone to fall for the slick con artists who prey on people searching for meaning in their lives. Where are the stinging comedies about those self promoters who use racial tensions and true believers in climate change as their tickets to fortune? They exist too. But, let’s face it, spoofs of Christian scams are much more politically correct and apt to win praise for being “smart” and “sly” from the New York Times. And that kind of irks me.

The bottom line is that con artists come from the left and the right, they can be religious or political. The goal is not to be exploited by them — but also to not let weariness of them push us toward cynicism.

I repeat this line I’ve always liked from Desiderata:

Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

But I digress. On its own merits, Believe Me is worth seeing.

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

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