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Bono Remakes the Celebrity Cause

posted by Paul O'Donnell

Bono has finally peaked: We’ve forgotten why his Africa campaign used to be newsworthy. In a drubbing that’s as fun to read as it is misguided, Brendan O’Neill, the editor of the opinion website Spiked, blasts “the pompous singer of […]

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Prediction: A New Christian Media Company Won’t Deliver

posted by Paul O'Donnell

Disney couldn’t do it, though “The Chronicles of Narnia” was a darned good try. New Line didn’t connect with audiences with “The Nativity Story.” But if anyone can recreate the box-office magic that Mel Gibson found in “The Passion of […]

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40 Years Ago Today: I’m Still a Pepper

posted by Paul O'Donnell

Nearly 50 years after they met, and despite thousands of articles, books, radio interviews, film documentaries and tribute albums, we’re still finding out how little we know about The Beatles, as a band and a phenomenon. Even Paul McCartney is […]

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CCM magazine: A New Name, A New Direction?

posted by Paul O'Donnell

“In Christian music, ‘show business’ is an irrelevant concept,” a Christian singer said in CCM magazine recently. Her statement wasn’t meant as a criticism but a kind of brag, and until earlier this month, it could have served neatly as […]

Kassie DePaiva: It’s Our Life to Live

posted by Paul O'Donnell

There’s Christian theology, full of hope for redemption and miraculous conversions, and then there’s country music. On her witty, bluegrass-inflected album, “I Want to Love You,” (out this week) Kassie DePaiva sings about heartache and being down to your last […]

The Passion of Paris Hilton

posted by Paul O'Donnell

What is it about prison–or just the prospect of it–that makes people find religion? Headed for a 23-day sentence that begins June 5, socialite Paris Hilton has been spotted toting the Bible and the nondenominational meditation “The Power of Now” […]

Yolanda King: Melding Acting and Civil Rights

posted by Paul O'Donnell

If you’re reading this blog, you likely have some appreciation for how pop entertainment can impact our spiritual lives–perhaps in our present condition, more effectively than formal religion. Dr. Martin Luther King’s daughter Yolanda, who died Tuesday at the age […]

Travolta Takes the Scientology Reins

posted by Paul O'Donnell

Is John Travolta the new face of Scientology? This week Travolta called on the BBC to kill a segment critical of the organization after BBC reporter John Sweeney screamed at a Scientology representative, “like a jet engine,” in Sweeney’s own […]

In Mormons We Trust

posted by Paul O'Donnell

We’re all Mormons. That was the essence, anyway, of the first half of “The Mormons,” the Frontline/American Experience documentary that concluded last night on PBS. The film implies that the founding myth about the United States–that Americans were a pilgrim […]

What’s the Difference Between the Dalai Lama and Nine Inch Nails?

posted by Paul O'Donnell

It’s been obvious for some time that the Dalai Lama has rock-star status. A funny piece in yesterday’s Contra Costa Times gives us the particulars: Organizers of his appearances, often in halls made famous by ’60s musical attractions, face “many […]

Kathie Lee Gifford’s New Role

posted by Paul O'Donnell

Two of America’s biggest born-again tabloid sensations are getting together in a stage musical with all the hoopla of a tent revival meeting. One is Kathie Lee Gifford, the public Christian and former morning talk-show matron whose repeated bouts with […]

The Birth of a Mythmaker

posted by Paul O'Donnell

Any Tolkien fan can tell you that J.R.R. Tolkien, a faithful Catholic, was pals with pop theologian C.S. Lewis, and that he laced his Lord of the Rings trilogy with Christian theology. What’s not always obvious, however, is how. What’s […]

Methinks Kristin Chenoweth Doth Undress too Much

posted by Paul O'Donnell

Back when Kristin Chenoweth had her own television show, she told Beliefnet that she hoped the show would “show the human face of Christianity.” Nowadays, it’s more than the face of Christianity that Chenoweth is showing. She appears nude (tastefully) […]

There’s Justice, but No Cross in ‘Crossroads’

posted by Paul O'Donnell

From Sherlock Holmes to “Dragnet” to “CSI,” we like to see a killer get his, in the form of comeuppance when the detective solves the crime, or in the judge’s sentence, or best of all when he (or she) comes […]

Daniel Radcliffe: Marked Man

posted by Paul O'Donnell

Some weeks back Idol Chatter brought you the flap over Daniel Radcliffe’s appearance in “Equus” on the London stage. Some British parents were aghast that the 17-year-old child star of the Harry Potter movie series would bare all (as his […]

Third Day: More Than Christian Rock

posted by Paul O'Donnell

There’s more than one moment on Third Day’s retrospective album “Chronology: Volume One,” that so masterfully combines pain and hope, delicate lyrics and anthem rock, that you ask yourself, “How do they do that?” And then you remind yourself: “Oh […]

TobyMac’s Unanchored ‘Portable Sounds’

posted by Paul O'Donnell

As a Christian rocker, TobyMac owes nobody anything. In the 90s as a founder of the rock-rap trio dc Talk, he wrote the group’s signature song, “Jesus Freak,” and imported mainstream producers to make dc Talk’s albums and videos. He […]

Hindus v. Elizabeth Hurley

posted by Paul O'Donnell

When the tempest first broke about Elizabeth Hurley’s Hindu wedding to Arun Nayar in Jodhpur, India, the headlines read “Hurley’s Interfaith Marriage Contested by Hindu Traditionalists,” and celebrity watchers and religion geeks scoffed in unison at the closed-mindedness of the […]

The Man in Black Comes Back

posted by Paul O'Donnell

There are two kinds of people in this world: Old Testament prophets and New Testament apostles. Johnny Cash, particularly the Man in Black of recent memory, was strictly OT. His lined crag of a face projected righteous lament, matching a […]

HBO’s ‘Life Support': The Gritty Truth About AIDS

posted by Paul O'Donnell

With “The Sopranos” and “Six Feet Under,” HBO has already rejuvenated the American television series. Can introducing the f-word, frank sex talk and better production values do the same for the “After School Special?” Set in the downtrodden projects of […]

Sunday, Bono Sunday

posted by Paul O'Donnell

A few months ago Idol Chatter noted that Episcopalians had taken to piping U2 songs into their churches, a phenomenon that’s not surprising, given lead singer Bono‘s coy but steady relationship with Christianity and the group’s redemptive musical themes. Evangelical […]

God and Race at the Oscars

posted by Paul O'Donnell

Jennifer Hudson’s Oscar win was everything we tune in for: a handsome leading man (George Clooney) welcoming a young actress to the Hollywood fold and a teary speech punctuated by gasps of gratitude and sheer terror (and featuring a grandmother). […]

Others Take Up Britney’s Cross

posted by Paul O'Donnell

Business is booming at Body and Soul, the tattoo parlor where Britney Spears stopped on her much-reported breakdown last weekend, according to celeb tracker andPOP. Tattoo artist Max Scott says he expects many of the new bookings will be asking […]

Do It For Us One More Time

posted by Paul O'Donnell

The press this week about Britney Spears has centered on a single puzzle–what’s going through that newly bald head? For a while, Britney’s life has been “The Truman Show” meets “Real World.” In the past week, reports from the disaster-in-progess […]

Her Song Re-Maines the Same

posted by Paul O'Donnell

Redemption appeared to be the theme of the night at the Grammys, from the Dixie Chicks’ triumphs to Mary J. Blige’s gracious acceptance speech to Carrie Underwood’s win for the spiritual surrender anthem, “Jesus Take the Wheel.” Not everyone handled […]

Harry Potter… er, Daniel Radcliffe… Gets Naked

posted by Paul O'Donnell

Ladies and gentlemen, Daniel Radcliffe will take his clothes off onstage when the play he’s starring in opens in London later this month. So who cares? Ladies and gentlemen, Daniel Radcliffe also plays Harry Potter in the Warner Bros. film […]

Supreme, But Human, Beings

posted by Paul O'Donnell

In business these days, children are a fact of life. Working from home to stay with a sick child is an allowable indulgence. If anyone remarks on a small voice in the office or in the background on a conference […]

Crowder Draws a Crowd

posted by Paul O'Donnell

Okay, so Internet polls are scientifically suspect–only the Oscars are as susceptible to email campaigns, multiple votes, and people voting blindly for artists they’ve never seen. But the audience for MSN’s Music Artist of the Year is so large and […]

Fanning the Flames

posted by Paul O'Donnell

It’s hard to recall the last time the Sundance Film Festival made any real noise–buzz, yes, but nothing like the howl sent up this year about “Hounddog,” an independent film starring Dakota Fanning as an urchin who is raped by […]

The Scandal That Won’t End

posted by Paul O'Donnell

The sexual-abuse scandal that once looked to bring the Catholic church’s hierarchy in Boston crashing down has died away. The former Boston archbishop, Cardinal Bernard Law, is comfortably esconced in a favorable position in Rome, and few of the radical […]

Alice Coltrane’s Supreme Love

posted by Paul O'Donnell

The passing of a great man’s widow is often taken as a second opportunity to mourn the man himself, but when Alice Coltrane, widow of the sax giant John Coltrane, died late last week, it was her accomplishments, and her […]

He’s a Jolie Good Fellow

posted by Paul O'Donnell

All through the elephant-dung Virgin Mary dust-up and the “Piss Christ” controversy, one might have drawn the conclusion that Catholic League president Bill Donohue just didn’t get modern art. Who would want to tackle the task of explaining to Donohue […]

Denzel Washington, Superstar

posted by Paul O'Donnell

Last fall, researcher George Barna–the Gallup of the Christian scene–found that Denzel Washington is better known and better loved than any living American religious figure. Lately, it seems as if Washington is running up the score. Denzel got a faith […]

Christmas a Silent Night for Madonna’s ‘Orphan’

posted by Paul O'Donnell

Hard to say whether the Catholic-born Kabbalah convert Madonna celebrates Christmas. Last year, she reportedly prepped for the Yule by having four 72-pint firkins of ale delivered to her Wiltshire home: a good sign that Father Christmas was expected at […]

The Transcendental Art of David Lynch

posted by Paul O'Donnell

The connection between spirituality and art was once a given: think Dante or even the dark and edgy paintings of Breugel. In our day, art is understood to be secular, and the more edge, the more secular we expect the […]

The Cheezin’ of the Season

posted by Paul O'Donnell

“All-Time Worst Christmas Movies” is not just a list, but a debate. Readers of the movie-ga-ga website Pearl and Dean recently voted “Jingle All the Way,” a 1996 flick starring the current governor of California, the worst Christmas movie ever, […]

Who’s Deader? God or Opera?

posted by Paul O'Donnell

Last night, the German Opera’s production of Mozart’s “Idomeneo” went on in Berlin without incident, albeit two months late and with more than 100 green-clad cops on hand. The heavy security was deployed to protect the artistic freedom of the […]

The Sixth Coming of Rocky

posted by Paul O'Donnell

Full disclosure: I have run to the top of the steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, extended my arms, and bounced on my toes while da-da-dah-ing “Gonna Fly Now,” the theme to “Rocky.” I felt ridiculous and, yes, exhilarated, […]

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. FOX

posted by Paul O'Donnell

The wonderful payoff of “American Idol”–it’s the most successful reality show, with record deals and American Music Awards all tallied–is that the show finds actual talent amid all those “Gong Show” rejects and braying, overtanned blondes tarted up like porn […]

Let Kirk Out

posted by Paul O'Donnell

Kirk Franklin just won the American Music Award in the Contemporary Inspirational category, adding to his crowded shelf of Gospel Music Association Dove Awards and Gospel Grammys. Yay, Kirk! In fact, his fellow nominees in the categories are very deserving […]

Borat, Seriously

posted by Paul O'Donnell

We’ve always been made to understand that Sacha Baron Cohen, a.k.a. Borat, is a satirist, not a simple comedian. Otherwise, his anti-Semitic jokes and poo-poo gags would be, well, just that. But this week, Cohen found out the cost of […]

Mel Gibson, “Apocalypto’s” Double Visionary

posted by Paul O'Donnell

Okay, this summer’s drunken anti-Semitic rant was a P.R. faux-pas. But just as Mel Gibson overcame his more veiled anti-Semitic reading of the Gospel in “The Passion of the Christ” by coaxing support for the deeply Catholic film among evangelicals, […]

TomKat: Separation of Scientology and State

posted by Paul O'Donnell

Are Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes going to be married before they get to the altar? The couple has booked a romantic, 15th-century castle north of Rome, and international singing star Andrea Bocelli will sing. Katie’s dad has even overcome […]

“The Nativity Story”: One Infallible Thumb Up?

posted by Paul O'Donnell

Once upon an innocent time, Mel Gibson smuggled a print of “The Passion of the Christ” to John Paul II, who reportedly murmured, “It is as it was,” as the credits rolled. Then it turned out JP2 might not have […]

When Is a Jesus Band Not a Jesus Band?

posted by Paul O'Donnell

The question used to be, can a Jesus band ever not sing about Jesus? These days, the question, asked by The Denver Post’s Ricardo Baca, has become: Can a band sing about Jesus without being called a Jesus band? Baca […]

Borders and ‘Pop’ Culture

posted by Paul O'Donnell

Did bookstore mega-chain Borders ban a young adult novel because the book implied sex was as good as soda pop? Borders’ recent decision not to stock the young adult novel “Pop!” has caused some puzzlement in the publishing industry. Though […]

Still Jesus After All These Years

posted by Paul O'Donnell

Ted Neeley, the former rock drummer who played the title superstar in the movie “Jesus Christ Superstar,” is still on the road, playing Jesus in the original stage musical. In an interview with The Dialog, the Catholic diocesan paper of […]

No Flash in the Pancreas

posted by Paul O'Donnell

Full disclosure: I’ve never been much of an Audio Adrenaline fan. First of all the name. Adrenaline is a hormone, a glandular fluid that enters the bloodstream for a short-term or circumscribed effect. It didn’t promise much in the way […]

This Christmas, Give a LIttle Rapture

posted by Paul O'Donnell

Less than a month from now, the video game version of the Left Behind series, “Left Behind: Eternal Forces,” will debut at big-box retailers, just in time for Christmas shopping season. The game, set in New York City, follows the […]

“The Monastery” Rules

posted by Paul O'Donnell

The Learning Channel’s 10-part series “The Monastery” has a couple of advantages over your run-of-the-mill reality show. One is that it is shot at Christ in the Desert, a Roman Catholic monastery in northern New Mexico. TLC’s cameras capture the […]

Borat: Too Smart for You?

posted by Paul O'Donnell

The poor Anti-Defamation League. The champions of tolerance–sworn especially to fight anti-Semitism–have been reduced by British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen to fretting in a press release that the cute, totally ironic anti-Semitic digs in Cohen’s new movie, “Borat: Cultural Learnings […]

The Onion: “Christian Band Cleans Up Hotel Room”

posted by Paul O'Donnell

Like any serious rockers, Christian musicians have had flings with their keyboard players, divorced their cokehead husbands, and had fans sue them for being too drunk to perform. But as this story from The Onion—still the country’s most reliable fictional […]

No Pity Party

posted by Paul O'Donnell

The trademark Mohawk is looking a little sparse, and age has begun to scrunch further his bulldog features, but Mr. T, who laid claim to the tagline “I pity the fool” a quarter-century ago, is back in a reality series, […]

Beatty: ‘Love One Another’

posted by Paul O'Donnell

The re-release of Warren Beatty’s 1981 film “Reds” has put the star in the usual rotation of magazines and TV interviews. My favorite so far is Premiere‘s wonderfully entrancing interview, in which the recollections of Beatty’s friends and co-workers are […]

Apocalypto Now

posted by Paul O'Donnell

What does it mean when some of the best religion stories these days appear in New York magazine? It means the Apocalypse is near. Last week New York had a concise but interesting Q&A with Jay Bakker, son of Jim […]

Previous Posts

Academy Award Nominated Film Unbroken Releases on DVD
The highly acclaimed film Unbroken, directed by Angelina Jolie that tells the inspirational story of Louis Zamperini hits DVD on March 24, 2015. At the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Louis Zamperini won a personal meeting with Adolf Hitler, who complimented his fast finish. In 1941, Zamperini enlisted in

posted 9:19:32am Mar. 23, 2015 | read full post »

Self/Less: 'God Created Man, Man Created Immortality'
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71fWtJXEI0Q What would it really feel like to feel immortal and you know longer had to worry about failing health? Phoenix Biogenic offers this once in a lifetime offer where the new body will be genetically mastered to perfection. Only a select few are chosen to

posted 10:57:15am Mar. 13, 2015 | read full post »

The New Trailer for CW’s ‘The Messengers’ Is Here, And It’s Like Nothing You’ve Ever Seen
[youtube]https://youtu.be/61AfGNlXf9M [/youtube] CW’s “The Messengers”, starring Diogo Morgado from the hit series “Son of God”, centers around five individuals who die as a result of an earthly phenomenon. When they return to earth as Angels with unique abilities, they must band together

posted 11:13:54am Mar. 12, 2015 | read full post »

Open Letters to Oscar Night Standouts
The following is a guest post from one of our Entertainment contributors, Malayna Dawn. Enjoy! Dear John Travolta: We know you are multi-talented and have played many characters, but lately it seems like you may be having trouble expressing your true self – at least in ways that the public ca

posted 10:46:28am Mar. 04, 2015 | read full post »

We Bid Farewell to Leonard Nimoy
Friday, February 27th Leonard Nimoy, famously known for his role as Spock in the infamous Star Trek series, passed away at the age of 83. His wife, Susan Bay Nimoy, confirmed his death, stating that the cause was the end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Nimoy publicly announced last

posted 2:25:26pm Feb. 27, 2015 | read full post »

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