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Idol Chatter

It must be Easter, or Passover, or Holy Week, or Orthodox Easter … or at least Spring Break! I can always tell because there are two times a year (the December holidays and now) when spiritual issues rise to the front of media attention.

This week’s TV offerings will include classic biblical profiles such as The History Channel’s look at King David, as well as news features like Anderson Cooper’s Wednesday and Thursday “360” episodes that will focus on “What is a Christian?” Cooper’s show leads with this tease: “Questions of faith. science, sex, salvation. Where do you fit? ‘360’ investigates what a Christian is.”

This, along with the chocolate Jesus in New York and the hot-buttered Jesus in Ohio, have certainly placed the historical figure of faith in the limelight this week. (I haven’t heard, but usually at this time there’s a Time, Newsweek or U.S. News and World Report cover story on something having to do with the resurrection as well.)

It is no secret that television is about ratings, and magazines need to maximize circulation. And there are those who sort of belittle the seasonal attention paid to matters of faith. It can almost seem obligatory, if not trite, which is a shame. But I am glad that the nation’s producers and managing editors recognized the spiritual zeal that each of us carries–especially now, even if it becomes somewhat dormant during the rest of the year.

And I find it interesting that in December, there is great emphasis placed on politically and culturally accepting many faith traditions under the general greeting of “happy holidays.” But the April season seems to generate more honest and historical reflection on real matters of faith. I hope that people of all faith traditions–as well as those who don’t really have one–can find time to reflect about spiritual things. Because according to the Barna Research Group, the number of non-church-going Americans is reaching 100 million. If that’s the case, I for one will welcome anything our culture generates to help everyone reflect on the great spiritual questions generated by the season.

And on that note, I’m looking forward to Saturday night (at 7 p.m. on ABC) when I’ll gather with my kids to do the exact same thing we did as kids with my parents: We’ll watch Charlton Heston and “The Ten Commandments,” complete with popcorn and good discussions at the commercial breaks.

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