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Current Reality in Living Black & White

posted by doug howe

Trivia time: Guess where these words about current events came from:

• “We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty.”

• “You can’t convict people by rumor, hearsay, and innuendo.”

• “We can not defeat terror abroad without confronting it here at home.”

• “We must remember always that accusation is not proof, and that conviction depends on evidence and due process of law”

• “We will not walk in fear, one of another”

• “We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine; and remember that we are not descended from fearful men. Not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate, and to defend causes that were for the moment unpopular.”

Did they come from a presidential candidate, or the State of the Union Address? Wolf Blitzer or Anderson Cooper or Larry King or any of the other leaders in the business of 24-hour newscasts? Nope. These all came from a “See It Now” broadcast in the year 1953. Edward R. Murrow spoke these words, CBS News broadcast them, and a future generation of journalists, politicians, and leaders was shaped by them. They’ve been brought to light in “Good Night, and Good Luck,” a Best Picture nominee for which I’ll be rooting. Here’s why.

The black-and-white movie brings living color to the messages of integrity, professionalism, character, and leadership. In the face of situations that sound dangerously close to what’s happening in some areas of our culture today, this movie should be shown in every classroom in America. It’s not only well-made, but it teaches a history that is more accurate than most docu-dramas and sheds light on interpreting what we see today—and why we see it—on CNN, CNBC, Fox News, etc. “Good Night and Good Luck” creates stirring drama around what amounts to a talking head on an ancient television in a time many of us never knew.

It was more than 50 years ago, but even at that time, America was struggling with the rights of the individual vs. the rights of the government to protect us from foreign terror. The media industry, even then, was grappling with the pressures of Corporate Sponsors vs. Journalistic Pursuits. We’d be naive to think that doesn’t happen today at the cable news networks and network news press rooms and corporate offices.

Ethics and character are the kinds of things many companies, individuals, and organizations want to be known for, but practicing such lofty ideals can be highly challenging. “Good Night and Good Luck” is not considered the favorite to win the Oscar for Best Picture, but it has won several other awards already. Still, I am rooting for “Good Night and Good Luck” to take home the statuette when that last, most-coveted Oscar is awarded. It would send a better message to our culture–and it was just a better film–than the others.

“Scrubs” Finds A Witness

posted by kris rasmussen

I blogged recently about rediscovering NBC’s long-running sitcom Scrubs. I have enjoyed connecting once again with goofy resident J.D. and the caustic Dr. Cox as they face each day’s ups and downs with a great deal of wit and, occasionally, a little wisdom. Last night’s episode reaffirmed that this show, now in its fifth season, is getting its second wind.

Building off of the episode from two weeks ago, in which Dr. Cox struggled with his ambivalent feelings about God and religion, last night’s episode had Cox once again facing a question of faith. This time it involved a patient in need of a life-saving operation . The problem? The patient is a Jehovah’s Witness–and Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe in blood transfusions using someone else’s blood, nor do they believe in storing their own blood to be used for medical procedures.

At first it seemed that Dr. Cox would not honor the woman’s request to forego the surgery, but then, to everyone’s surprise, he announces his decision to respect the woman’s beliefs–even if he doesn’t agree with them. He even attempts to prevent the patient from being transferred to another hospital that will operate on her.

On a side note, the show was even more humorously poignant because Dr. Cox’s journey of personal growth and enlightenment didn’t end there. The episode also found him wrestling with issues of intimacy, when he realizes he finds it too uncomfortable to kiss his toddler son as a sign of affection. Not to worry, Dr. Cox eventually comes to realize there are other ways to express himself and be the loving, demonstrative dad he never had when he was young.

Moving Mountains

posted by burb

Can movies change how we behave as a society? An opinion piece by Maria Dibattista in Sunday’s L.A. Times argues that they can–except for the movies that set out to do that. She adds the Oscar-nominated “Brokeback Mountain” to a lineup of “problem films” like “Gentleman’s Agreement” (anti-Semitism), “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” (racism), and “Wall Street” (corporate greed),which are affecting and powerful in the theater but turn out to be powderpuffs when it comes to real-world impact. “If “Brokeback Mountain” changes the way we think and act about homosexual relationships,” DiBattista writes, “that change won’t come from seeing two men throbbing with love for each other.”

From this remove, it’s difficult to gauge whether “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” really changed America’s attitude about race, or showed how our attitude toward race was already beginning to change. Hollywood is a generally a pretty conservative place, as any industry would be that places such large bets on what the broad audience will pay for. Officially an independent film, “Brokeback” is a major release with major stars who took the risk of sucking major face. All the principles, among them Paramount Pictures, probably felt secure in their wager that filmgoers have already accepted homosexuality. Its presence, if not its success, in other words, has probably more to do with “Will and Grace” than the bravery of the filmmakers.

So can movies change how we behave? Maybe not. But they are a good indicator of how we’ve changed already.

Grammy Time!

posted by dena ross

I love Grammy time. Although, I usually care less about the winners than I do about the performances, I decided this year to make some predictions for selected categories that are relevant to Beliefnet (or that I just wanted to sound off on). Please keep in mind, this list is non-scientific and not based on record sales or anything except my own personal love and hate of various artists. Oh yeah, and they don’t reflect the opinions of Beliefnet, yada, yada, yada.

Album of the Year

  • “The Emancipation Of Mimi,” Mariah Carey
  • “Chaos And Creation In The Backyard,” Paul McCartney
  • “Love. Angel. Music. Baby,” Gwen Stefani
  • “How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb,” U2
  • “Late Registration,” Kanye West

My pick: I think my co-workers would start throwing things at me if I went up against U2. So I’d have to choose “How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb.” For my own safety…

Who will win: “Late Registration,” Kanye West. Why? Because Kanye controls America.

Best Gospel Performance

  • “Be Blessed,” Yolanda Adams
  • “Looking For You,” Kirk Franklin
  • “I Call You Faithful,” Donnie McClurkin
  • “Lift Him Up,” Hezekiah Walker & Love Fellowship Choir
  • “Pray,” Cece Winans

My pick: This is a tough one, since this catagory is chock full of talent–more than any of the others. I’d have to go with “Looking For You,” Kirk Franklin. I really feel this should be Kirk’s year.

Who will win: CeCe Winans. Why? Because she’s CeCe Winans.

Best Rock Gospel Album

  • “Until My Heart Caves In,” Audio Adrenaline
  • “Higher Definition,” The Cross Movement
  • “Day of Fire,” Day of Fire
  • “Truth Is Fallin’ In Tha Streetz,” Fresh I.E.
  • “Dichotomy B,” Grits

My pick: By far one of my favorite albums–including mainstream albums– of last year was Day of Fire’s self-titled debut. This is how Christian rock should be done.

Who will win: “Until My Heart Caves In.” Because Audio A will be retiring later this year. It will be a pity win.

Best Rock Song

  • “Best of You,” Foo Fighters
  • “Beverly Hills,”Weezer
  • “City of Blinding Lights,” U2
  • “Devils & Dust,” Bruce Springsteen
  • “Speed of Sound,” Coldplay

My pick: “Beverly Hills,” Weezer. I’m rooting for the underdog here.

Who will win: “City of Blinding Lights,” U2. Why? Because the people in the Recording Academy who decide the winners want to go to heaven–they’d be stupid to vote against God’s favorite band.

Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album

  • “Lifesong,” Casting Crowns
  • “All I Really Want For Christmas,” Steven Curtis Chapman
  • “Redemption Songs,” Jars of Clay
  • “Hymn,” Out of Eden
  • “Healing Rain,” Michael W. Smith
  • “Live Wire,” Third Day

My pick: I want to say, “Live Wire,” because Third Day really knows how to rock (sometimes).

Who will win: “Lifesong,” Casting Crowns. To CCM enthusiasts, Casting Crowns is the hottest thing in Christian culture since those WWJD necklaces–which by the way, even Jesus hates.

You can watch the Grammys tonight at 8p.m. ET/PT on CBS.

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