Here are today’s Top 10 dispatches from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.

1. (Almost) Final thoughts on Harold Camping. From Anthony Sacramone @ First Thoughts (posted on Sunday): With the possible exception of Harold Camping himself, nobody wanted the world to end yesterday more than me. I’m thoroughly sick of the joint. War, rumors of war, politicians, lies (but I repeat myself), cancer clusters, unemployment, certified public accountants, season 7 of House. The whole thing could have exploded in a gargantuan ball of green flame, and I would have been there in the cheap seats with my popcorn (small, no butter) waving goodbye…

This Just in:

As Gather notes: Apparently Harold Camping hasn’t read his own book, which explicitly warns against attempting to calculate the date of Jesus Christ’s return.
But the nearly 90-year-old was not given the memo on that one. After all, locating a passage in the first book of the New Testament is daunting. Note to Harold Camping: You can find the passage in Matthew 24:36, or repeated in Mark 13:32 for your convenience.

From the English Standard Version Bible, here’s the cited Matthew passage  quoting Jesus on the subject of the end of time:

“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

That’s good enough for me. Not to pile on Camping but trying to predict when the world will end is not a good use of the precious time we’ve been blessed with to develop a personal relationship with God, learn how to love others and to, hopefully, do some good in this world.

2. History Channel and Mark Burnett team for Bible miniseries. From Hollywood ReporterThe cable network is readying a 10-hour religious docu-drama for 2013 that will include live-action and state-of-the-art CGI. History has big plans to make must-see-TV out of the Bible…
…The project, which comes from reality producer Mark Burnett, will air as a five-part, 10-hour scripted docu-drama with live-action and state-of-the-art CGI. Given both its scale and production value, The Bible won’t appear on History’s schedule until 2013.

Meanwhile…The producers of The Kennedys, the recent controversial miniseries about  the Catholic political dynasty that was  infamously-booted by History Channel, have struck a deal to create original series  programming for ReelzChannel. Reelz is the previously little-known cable network that ended up airing The Kennedys.

3.  Book of Mormon spoof wins Drama Desk Best Musical prize. From Hollywood Reporter: The Book of Mormon and Anything Goes topped the 55th annual Drama Desk Awards on Monday with five wins apiece.
Mormon — which leads the Tony nominations with 14 and also led the Drama Desk noms with 12 — was named best musical, while Anything Goes — which has nine Tony noms — won for best revival of a musical.

4. Fox News lives up to its worst stereotype. I’m usually a defender of those who accuse Fox News of being racist because, usually, the charges strike me as unfair attacks on legitimate conservative concerns (i.e. border security). But this positive spin on a restaurant that pointedly refuses to serve non-English speaking people was hideous.

On the other hand, I still oppose censorship and applaud Orbitz for standing up to the far-left opponents of free speech over at Media Matters. From Hollywood Reporter: Media Matters is gearing up to target a half-dozen of the Fox News Channel’s advertisers — Netflix possibly being one of them — though Orbitz Worldwide on Thursday stuck up for the nation’s top cable news outlet.
Orbitz, which is the first target of a campaign launched at — a new website from the liberal media watchdog group Media Matters — on Thursday also accused Media Matters of a “smear campaign.”
DropFox’s goal is to pressure advertisers into either pulling their ads from Fox News or forcing Fox to alter its usually conservative messages. DropFox focused on Orbitz first because among its assets is a travel website dedicated to gays and lesbians, a community Fox News is antagonistic toward, according to DropFox.
IMHO: Refusing to serve customers who don’t speak English and trying to censor free speech, two un-American ideas, one brought to you by the right and one by the left. Both extremes are unfair and unbalanced.

5. Church corruption = big ratings for Showtime. From Hollywood Reporter: Sunday’s season finale drew 810,000 total viewers at 10 p.m. With encores, Borgias snagged 1.12 million viewers for the night. (The Jeremy Irons drama premiered with 1.06 million tuning in to its two-hour debut in early April.)
Including On Demand, DVR and encores, Borgias topped the highest-rated season of The Tudors (Season 2, 2.7 million) by 20 percent, averaging 3.3 million weekly viewers.

For those of you who may not know, The Borgias stars Jeremy Irons as Pope Alexander VI, considered by many to be the poster pontiff for Renaissance-era corruption in the Catholic Church.
The series has been renewed for a second season of ten episodes.

6. Conservative talk stars losing their luster? From The WrapRush Limbaugh’s rants against Obama-care and the great birth certificate controversy of 2011 have done nothing to lift the rightwing bomb thrower in the ratings.
Limbaugh’s ratings fell 33 percent from October, according to a new study from Arbitron. He’s not the only ultra-conservative talk show host with listener-ship issues. Sean Hannity’s afternoon show slid 28 percent from last fall, according to Crain’s Business.

7. The debate over heaven. Famed physicist Stephen Hawking says there’s no heaven and is getting, well, heck, from Christian actor Kirk Cameron and Colton Burpo, a 12-year-old boy who says he’s actually been there.

From Cameron’s Facebook page: To say anything negative about Stephen Hawking is like bullying a blind man. He has an unfair disadvantage, and that gives him a free pass on some of his absurd ideas. Professor Hawking is heralded as “the genius of Britain,” yet he believes in the scientific impossibility that nothing created everything (Sir Isaac Newton called atheism “senseless and odious”) and that life sprang from non-life. To speak on issues of science and violate it’s essential laws is like playing checkers with a someone who changes the rules when he’s losing.

Meanwhile, ABC News is all over the story with a report on the long-distance debate between Hawking and young Burpo (whose pastor father wrote the book Heaven is for Real which chronicles his son’s apparent journey into the afterlife) and a one-on-one interview with Hawking.

8. The Mighty Macs are coming. Cathy Rush – a woman ahead of her time – takes a seemingly unnoticeable position as the head basketball coach at tiny Immaculata, an all-girls Catholic college in suburban Philadelphia. Courage and determination help her overcome a myriad of obstacles and, in the end, Rush leads a ragtag group of girls to the first-ever national championship in women’s college basketball. Starring Carla Gugino (“Spy Kids,” “Race to Witch Mountain,” “Night at the Museum”), David Boreanz (Fox TV’s “Bones,” “Angel”), Marley Shelton (“Eleventh Hour,” “Pleasantville”) and Academy Award®-winner Ellen Burstyn (Best Actress, “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore”).

The inspirational, true story of the original Cinderella in women’s basketball will open Oct. 21, 2011.

9. Spike TV to debut reality series about flipping foreclosed homes. From The Salt Lake Tribune: Utah house flippers Mike Baird and Doug Clark have seen it all. Foreclosures infested with rats and mold, homes filled with drug paraphernalia and rotting meat.In the fall, America will see what they do for a living in Spike TV’s new series “Flipping Foreclosures,” from the producers of “The Biggest Loser.” And Spike is coming to Utah specifically because of Baird and Clark.”The heart of the series is our enterprising, ambitious hosts,” said Tim Duffy, Spike’s senior vice president of original programming.Baird, 33, grew up in San Diego and moved to Utah to attend Brigham Young University. Clark is a native Utahn who grew up in Murray. They met at a foreclosure auction in 2004, and Clark quit his career as a commercial pilot to join Baird as a foreclosure flipper. Each of the six episodes ordered by Spike TV will follow Baird, Clark and their team through the story of one home. We’ll see them buying the foreclosure, cleaning it, repairing structural damage, rehabilitating and redecorating, and selling to a new owner.
IMHO: This show should be spiked.

10. Quote of the day: ” That whole bleak comedy thing is over. Mostly because there wasn’t much humor in it. Now it’s just unlikable people showing off.” – Tim Goodman @ The Bastard Machine.
Note: He was talking about the need to overhaul Showtime’s tiresome lineup which, he notes, includes a drug-selling mom (Weeds), a serial killer (Dexter), a sex addict (Californication), a despotic king (The Tudors) a  prostitute (Secret Diary of a Call Girl) and a drug addicted nurse (Nurse Jackie). And let’s not forget the aforementioned corrupt pope.
Showtime has certainly pushed edginess over the edge but the entire television industry needs to wake up and understand that mainstream audiences are tired of cynicism and bleakness. It’s time for unabashed non-ironic idealism to return to television.

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

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