Here’s the latest from the crossroads of faith, media & culture: 11/23/22 The decision to release the Season 3 premiere of The Chosen in theaters has yielded surprisingly strong box office results. As a result, what was planned as a five day theatrical run has been extended all the way to December 1st. With $8.75 […]
Good to be back from my time off catching up on other writing projects. But I’ve been keeping up with things in the faith/media sector while I’ve been away — even traveling to San Diego to witness the making of a new video series and feature film on the insights and teachings of the evangelical Christian family therapist Dr. James Dobson. More on that below.
1. Today is Truli a big day. So says TV legend Michael Jay Solomon whose Christian community website launches today. Truli.net is being described as “the world’s only Christian social community and media library filled with family-friendly entertainment, spiritual education and personal growth programming for audiences worldwide.” Truli offers ministries tools to upload, catalog and archive sermons that Truli users can view virtually anywhere at any time. Truli also provides a wide menu of music and entertainment options as well as a social network where Christians can interact with their favorite pastors, ministries, musicians and each other.
Solomon tells me that he expects big things for his brainchild. He says the huge potential Christian audience is greatly under served. He also notes that ministries who share their positive messages via Truli garner an opportunity to connect with vast numbers of people who would otherwise never hear what they have to say. Michael Jay Solomon’s background includes co-founding and running Telepictures (which later became Lorimar-Telepictures), as well as a highly-successful executive stint at Warner Bros. Entertainment Group. So, who can discount the wisdom of Solomon? Not me.
(NOTE: An earlier version of this post referred to Truli as a subscription-based service. That is not the case.)
The name, BTW, comes from the Bible’s frequent use of variations of the word “truth” which is something he intends Truli.net to offer in abundance.
2. The Dobson Family Legacy lives on. In 1978 Dr. James Dobson was a hugely-popular Christian-oriented family therapist. His common-sense approach to parenting coupled with his surprisingly humorous demeanor put him high demand as a speaker all across those the country. Fearing those gigs would begin to take a toll on his own family, Dobson decided to practice what he preached and put his own family first. He scheduled one last parenting conference which was held at San Antonio’s Trinity University in 1978.
That may have been the end of it had a young filmmaker/entrepreneur Joey Paul (now Executive Editor at Hachette Book Group’s imprint Faith Words) hadn’t had the inspiration to video the event (with no clear idea of how to distribute it). Dobson agreed and 80 million viewers later, the project can fairly be deemed a phenomenon.
Fast forward to a year or so ago when Dobson’s adult son (and radio co-host) Ryan Dobson came across the old videos while clearing a closet. Ryan, who unlike his adoptive father is actually an ordained minister, found the presentations to be extraordinary. He suggested that a re-release was in order. His father at first resisted the idea but through Ryan’s persistence eventually warmed to it.
As they say, one thing led to another. Over a two-weekend period late last month, Dobson (now 76) staged a new series of Building a Family Legacy talks that will be packaged (along with parts of his earlier presentations) for a new generation of parents. The new videos (as well as a planned feature documentary) will be produced by David Nixon whose film credits include such faith-based films as Letters to God, Facing the Giants and Fireproof).
As I mentioned above, I was invited to witness the project’s filming and was giving the opportunity to meet Dr. Dobson and Ryan (who he literally passed the proverbial baton during one of the sessions). Ryan, BTW, is quite a dynamic speaker himself who, like his dad, gets across points with equal parts clarity and humor. This may sound strange, but at times his presentation reminded of the stand-up opening to early episodes of Seinfeld. I’m telling you, there’s a faith-based sitcom in their somewhere.
I must say the humor part surprised me — particularly regarding the elder Dobson. Like many Americans who get their impressions of people through the news media, I was expecting an angrier sort. That definitely wasn’t who I found. Even on the contentious issue of gay marriage, Dobson (while firm in his opposition) made clear that Christians needed to treat everyone they meet with respect and compassion. He wasn’t the fire breather I had been primed for.
But, most impressively, from talking with both Ryan and his sister Danae (also an author) I was given the impression of a man who had earned the deep love and respect of his children and who was true to the message he’s been preaching for over 20 years.
I’ll be following the new Building a Family Legacy project and plan to keep you posted as it moves forward.
3. Joe Versus the Volcano: The Musical. While in San Diego, I discovered that one of my favorite under-appreciated films (with an interesting faith theme) has been turned into a stage musical. The musical version of Joe is currently scheduled to run through July 29th at Lamb’s Players Theatre. Here’s a fairly-positive review from The San Diego Reader. If you’re not in the San Diego area (or even if you are), may I suggest renting the original movie which starred Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.
Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11