Catholics Media and Culture

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Faith Media and Culture

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

1. The End of the World. From The WrapIn its final edition, the News of the World offered a “sad but proud” farewell to its readers, after 168 years in print. Several of the most prominent stories made the case that the paper “is a force for good,” as one article insisted, pointing to good-works projects for charity, soldiers and children.
There was no mea culpa in the final edition, and no reference to the alleged crimes that got the paper shut down.
There is no question that this scandal will continue. Nor is there much doubt that more shocking details remain concealed. Whether they are revealed, how that comes about and, most importantly, what they consist of, is still anyone’s guess.

2. The Sky is falling for Rupert Murdoch.  From Hollywood Reporter: Just days after British Prime Minister David Cameron said Rupert Murdoch’s bid to take full control of BSkyB would face a delay or even total derailment, the U.K.’s Independent is reporting that the deal “appeared to be dead in the water” on Sunday night. Sources told the paper that attorneys for the government are “drawing up a strategy to halt the £9 billion deal, which looked a certainty only a week ago.”
Comment: A major question is can Murdoch keep the scandal fallout contained to Britain?

3. Once upon a time a prince and princess visited Skid Row. From Hollywood Reporter: Just hours after meeting with some of the most powerful people in Hollywood at a black-tie affair, Prince William and Kate Middleton made a visit to Los Angeles’ Skid Row on Sunday. The couple — now officially known as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge — visited the Inner City Arts academy, where they were greeted by six elementary students holding a welcome sign.

4. Enter: Iron Lady. Not a feminist sequel to Iron Man, the film (due out next January) is Hollywood’s take on former British prime minister (and Ronald Reagan ally) Margaret Thatcher.  Meryl Streep stars. Will the conservative woman get a fair shake from Tinseltown — in a U.S. election year no less? What do you think?

5. Hollywood favors tax breaks — for Hollywood. From NewsBusters: Amid all of the spurious talk about “tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires” (defined incongruously by the left as anyone with income of over $200,000), the Obama administration and its media lackeys are trying to raise support for an increase in taxes on corporate jets.
It’s well-known that the amount of money that potentially would be raised by closing this loophole is miniscule, it’d take 5,000 years for it to equal the new debt added just last year, but since we’re talking about tax cuts for the wealthy, it’s worth noting that the Hollywood Left actually has managed to get a significant number of tax deductions to promote television and movie production. Magically, however, we aren’t seeing much discussion about closing these tax loopholes from the elite media.
Comment: Hollywood’s rich and famous often seem to enjoy wagging their righteous fingers of indignation at greedy corporations. Oh, the irony. IMHO: What we really need is a moral tax code that is less prone to political corruption by chucking corporate tax deductions while lowering overall rates. The government would likely get more more money into the Treasury — though political campaigns would collect less from corporate lobbyists (whether from Hollywood or the oil industry) seeking favoritism through intricate tax laws.  

6. Schwimming against the tide. From The Christian Post: “Friends” actor David Schwimmer recently expressed his disapproval over the negative influence pop stars have on youths because “everything they do is about sex.”The 44-year-old actor, who rose to fame thanks to his role as Ross Geller in the 90s TV series “Friends,” just finished working on this second directorial project “Trust,” about a 14-year-old girl who falls prey to an internet pedophile posing as a teenager. The girl ends up being raped when they meet.
Comment: Schwimmer’s observations are as true as they are refreshing to hear spoken. I have no doubt that the actor is sincere in his concerns and deserves credit for stating them. However, MRC’s Brent Bozell has a point when he writes “The problem comes when the actress playing the rape victim (in Trust) is 14, just like the character,” adding that “Some adult scenes should cause a director to look for an adult with a childlike quality instead of an actual child.

7. Jennifer Aniston’s “F” bomb. Schwimmer’s Friends co-star is generating some controversy of her own.  In her new movie Horrible Bosses (which debuted at #2 at the Weekend Office), her nasty character lets loose with the offending word. BTW, we’re talking about a word that is specifically insulting to gays. In Hollywood, nobody bats an eye at the use of that other “F” word these days.
In any event, Ramin Setoodeh, writing for The Daily Beast, apparently thinks use of  the word in a movie (even by a loathsome character) is over the line. I’m against any sort of censorship (preferring the exercise of actual artistic taste instead)  but I actually agree with him. Then again, I think I would find much of what is in this movie over the line. I know. I’m such a prude. But I’m tired of movies and TV shows that present crude nastiness (whether directed at gays, Christians or Sarah Palin) as hip and funny. Our culture would benefit by reassembling the long-ago shredded envelope of good taste.

BTW, Jonathan Goldstein, one of the writers of Horrible Bosses, defends the use of the “F” word in the script, saying “It’s indefensible. I think part of the challenge is to, in a fairly short amount of time, get these guys to a place where an audience can empathize….To shorthand that, we tried to think: what are the most offensive things they can say? Using a word like that I think is one of them. It says this woman is irredeemable.” Well, as a Christian, I don’t believe anyone is irredeemable — and would actually like to see more films (comedies or dramas) about personal redemption. But that’s just me and, I honestly believe, most people.

8. Catholic Church leaders praying for guidance regarding possible Crystal Cathedral purchase. From At Masses throughout Orange County this weekend, the diocese asked parishioners to pray for wisdom and guidance for a committee studying the possibility of bidding for the edifice.
The Crystal Cathedral, founded by the Rev. Robert H. Schuller, filed for bankruptcy protection last fall, saying it owed more than $50 million to creditors.
The famous glass church has already drawn bids of $46 million from Chapman University and a Newport Beach investment firm
…One potential roadblock to the deal is that it would leave Crystal Cathedral church-goers homeless. In contrast, the Chapman and Newport bids would allow Schuller’s church to continue using the cathedral and even buy back a portion of the property down the road.
Comment: If the Catholic Church does buy it, I think the Christian thing to do would be to work out a deal in which current Crystal Cathedral members could continue to worship there.

9. Hallmark gets warm greeting from ABC.  From The New York TimesThe Hallmark Hall of Fame movie franchise has a new home on network television: ABC. A multiyear agreement, announced last week by Hallmark, came two months after CBS decided not to renew its deal to show the feel-good movies at greeting-card-buying times of the year…The first movie on ABC, “Mitch Albom’s Have a Little Faith,” will be shown in December.
BTW: Some network (perhaps ABC) would be wise to give Albom a series development deal.  Here he is reading from his book on which the upcoming Hallmark film is based. This kind of stuff is more my speed than Horrible Bosses. I know, I’m a prude — but a happy prude.

10. On a wing and a prayer: The surprising history of praying in space. From CNN: It may be the first prayer ever uttered by a space traveler: “Dear Lord, please don’t let me f- up.”
Dubbed “Shepard’s Prayer,” this brief, irreverent plea is often attributed to the first American in space – the late Alan Shepard – although he reportedly said he was misquoted.

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

NOTE: This blog has officially move to Faith, Media & Culture.

Because so many of the faith and media stories covered involved other faiths as well, I asked for the name change.  You can find the old blog with the new name  here. Thanks for following me.



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

Osama Bin Laden is dead! Long live America!

The masterful execution of the taking out of Osama Bin Laden by American forces under the leadership of the Obama Administration has helped our country recover some of that feeling of unity we had following 9/11. Not that we should thank Osama or anything but the guy did (and does) remind us that there is a real difference between an evil ideology and mere political disagreement.

True, liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans differ on how they approach issues. Democrats tend to believe the government is the best organizing tool for marshaling our shared resources for the good of all. Republicans and Libertarians, while not anarchists,  see government as often getting in the way of people helping themselves and each other. Of course, that all flips on the issue of abortion/ fetuscide where Democrats and Libertarians line up together in favor of keeping government out of people’s lives and conservative Republicans view government as a defender of what they see as a defenseless human being.

Remove all the hyperbole (and nuts) from both sides and, in general, liberals and conservatives are just ordinary people bringing their honest perspectives to the problems at hand. We all think our approaches are best and fairest for everyone. In real life liberals and conservatives get along all the time –working together, living together and even loving each other.

It’s only in the freaky cable news/punditry universe that our differences in approaches are magnified to seem like cataclysmic battles between good and evil. Most of us realize that, in the end, neither liberals nor conservative are completely wrong or completely right. The best answers to our problems are likely to come from honestly listening to each other and working toward solutions that balance all of our legitimate concerns and perspectives.

The ideology of al Qaeda and its ilk, on the other hand, defames Islam and faith in general. It is about power and the gaining of power through stirring up of hatred and through cold-blooded murder. Those who would rule by terror are our real enemies — not Democrats or Republicans, not Barak Obama or George W. Bush.  We really need to remember that the next time our rhetoric towards one another gets a bit overheated.

For now, let’s enjoy this moment of national unity and celebration from Jon Stewart Stephen CobertRudy Giuliani and Sean Hannity (who actually praised President Obama).  Now, if only Lawrence O’Donnell would take a breath and lighten up on the politics and anger for even a  day. There’s plenty of time to criticize others, Lawrence. How about today we just take a deep breath and appreciate that  this is a day for letting go of past hostilities and being thankful that we’re all Americans?

BTW, on the subject of discerning the difference between mere disagreement and evil, Russell Simmons is showing us how that’s done with his blog on Donald Trump.  He disagrees with the Donald about most everything but he refrains from hurling the “racist” charge, saying “as a friend I’m disappointed by a lot of what Donald has said over the past few weeks. His statements have echoed some of the lowest notes in American politics. But as a Democrat, I don’t feel hurt by what he says. That’s because every day he’s helping Obama secure a second term in office.”

He continues “And even though it might not have been his intention, Donald is also giving a voice to a mentality, usually only discussed privately, that needs to be flushed out and confronted. In an increasingly diverse and tolerant America we are proving that this mentality won’t fly. However one thing I can tell you, as a person who knows him better than most in this discussion, you can say a lot of things about Trump, but he absolutely is not a racist.”

Russell Simmons is a class act.

Also, BTW, with regard to hitting the reset button, this blog is about to undergo a name change — from Catholics, Media & Culture to Faith, Media & Culture — to better represent the broadness of the topics covered. I’m still a Catholic but the blog is aimed a wider audience than just Catholics.

Thanks for reading — including those who are most vocal in disagreeing with me.  That would be you, nmns.  Every now and then you make a good point.

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