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

1. Cultural shift continues as New York okays gay marriage. The cable networks scrambled to cover the state legislature’s historic vote on Friday night leading to at least one ironic segue and, of course, Hollywood was all atwitter.
IMHO: The gay marriage train is leaving the station and it’s about time we deal with the issue on a national basis so that all states can deal with the issue in a unified fashion. As a person with gay friends and friends who oppose gay marriage (and who finds neither side evil), I’d personally like to see a national law that would take the concerns of both sides into account.

Proponents of gay marriage reasonably argue that the state has no business telling consenting adults who they can and cannot marry. Opponents, meanwhile, see “marriage” as a word with distinct religious connotations.

This leads me to suggest that it’s time for the state to get out of the sacrament business. Laws regarding secular marriage licenses were written when issues like gay marriage were far off the radar screen. In case you haven’t noticed, times have changed.

Why can’t the federal government issue civil unions that would have nothing to do with sexuality (a private matter)? Such unions would extend legal, financial and insurance rights to partnerships involving both gay and straight couples, as well adult unmarried siblings, relatives or friends who could benefit from such legal arrangements. They really don’t have to have anything to do with who’s having sex with who — again, none of the government’s business.

In order to cover everyone, and since the reasonable argument for legalizing gay marriage also reasonably applies to polygamy, the unions could include up to three people. That would prevent the number of people involved in a single civil union from becoming legally unwieldy. Once four people are involved you would need two separate civil unions.

As for marriage, people would still find that in churches. If you believe in gay marriage, go to a church that believes in gay marriages. If you don’t, go to one that doesn’t.

This proposal, I think, would prevent the national resolution of the issue from becoming bogged down in endless state legal battles, would take into account the concerns of everyone involved and re-enforce the legitimate separation of church and state in a reasonable way.

You’re welcome, America.

2. Tea Party goes Hollywood. From Hollywood Reporter: Those who belong to the conservative movement known as the Tea Party are acutely aware of the power of popular culture, so they have been cautiously delving into the creation of entertainment that promotes their values. It usually manifests itself in snippets of online political parody. Coming Sunday, though, is perhaps the most ambitious effort yet: A “TV show” created by a couple of Tea Partiers who have formed their own production company…Courage has the pacing and feel of a soap opera, though its set in Colonial America. While its creators are making it as a TV show, there’s no distribution partner, so it’s going straight to DVD after the premiere. The company, Colony Bay, is also trying to strike deals with conservative online TV outlets, like Glenn Beck’s GBTV and Kelsey Grammer’s Right Network, and are seeking a television VOD partner.

Below is a trailer for the pilot (which debuted yesterday at a red carpet theater event in Monrovia, CA, followed be discussion of the project on Fox News.

IMHO: I wasn’t at the screening so have no idea how good the pilot actually is but I applaud the effort.  It’s better to produce culture than to complain about it. But, besides quality, projects like this need adequate distribution and promotion to survive. It will take both courage and determination for Courage to succeed.

My question is why Rupert Murdoch and/or Roger Ailes aren’t throwing their considerable clout behind shows like this? Why, for instance, couldn’t Courage air on the Fox Broadcasting Network? Suggestion: Say on Saturday nights when one of its prime-time hours is due this fall to be occupied by a repeat of a random show from earlier in the week. There’s an open time slot there ready for experimentation.

Or, better yet, MyNetwork (a second prime-time broadcast outlet owned by Murdoch’s News Coporation), which currently only airs reruns of recent shows, could be re-branded MyAmericanNetwork and could offer a slate of traditional-values entertainment that would provide the sort of alternative in entertainment programming that Fox News Channel provides on the news side. There are plenty of conservative suppliers who would leap to at the chance to provide content.

Just a thought.

3. Matt Taibbi under fire for Rolling Stone hit piece on Michele Bachman. From Yahoo News: It’s been a few months since we’ve had ourselves a good-old plagiarism incident to get riled up about. But thanks to Rolling Stone, our sleepy summer Friday just got a bit more scandalous! The magazine is taking some heat today for lifting quotes in Matt Taibbi’s hit piece on Minnesota’s 2012 Tea Party hopeful Michele Bachmann. In the story, posted online Wednesday, Taibbi borrows heavily from a 2006 profile of Bachmann by G.R. Anderson, a former Minneapolis City Pages reporter who now teaches journalism at the University of Minnesota…”I would not consider what the Rolling Stone [piece] contained in it to be plagiarism,” Anderson told City Pages. “What I will say, as a graduate of the Columbia J-School, and an adjunct at the University of Minnesota J-School, I do know that if a student handed in a story with that particular lack of sourcing, not only would I give it an ‘F,’ I would probably put that student on academic fraud.”

4. Cars races to box office win. From The Wrap: Talk about high-performance vehicles: Disney-Pixar’s “Cars 2” significantly overperformed at the box office this weekend, opening with $68 million, according to studio estimates. That’s some $8 million more than even the most optimistic projections for the animated 3D film. The follow-up to the studio’s 2006 talking car-themed movie played at 4,155 theaters — 2,508 of them showing the film in 3D.

5. Just one more thing… From STL Today: Peter Falk, the gravel-voiced actor who became an enduring television icon portraying Lt. Columbo, the rumpled raincoat-wearing Los Angeles police homicide detective who always had “just one more thing” to ask a suspect, died Thursday. He was 83.
Comment: Playing catch up here. I didn’t do a Friday post and didn’t want the passing of the great actor who brought to life one of TV’s greatest detective to go unmentioned here.

Columbo, along with NYPD Blue, The Fugitive and The Rockford Files, was among the greatest TV crime dramas of all time. It’s moral messages were simple ones. Don’t judge a book by its cover (or rumpled overcoat) and, of course, crime doesn’t pay.

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

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