Faith, Media & Culture

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

Three new books worth checking out:

Getting Real by Gretchen Carlson (Viking, June, 16):  On her Fox News show The Real Story, Gretchen Carlson exudes confidence, professionalism, sincerity and, overall, likability. She also does so in her autobio — which chronicles her journey from a self-described chubby kid in Minnesota, through competing in and winning the 1989 Miss America pageant (playing the violin, she also won in the talent category) , through her years in television (including earlier stints co-anchoring CBS Saturday Early Show and Fox  & Friends), through falling in love, getting married, struggling to get pregnant and, finally, raising a family of her own. Though it all, she comes off as not only real and honest but also grateful.

Since I used to work at Fox News (prior to 2005 when Gretchen arrived), I found those pages to be, perhaps, the most interesting — but her year as Miss America was also an entertaining read.  One particularly amusing portion recounts how she was the “victim” of an episode of the old NBC show TV’s Blooper and Practical Jokes hosted by Dick Clark and Ed McMahon.  As she recounts in the book, the segment (which demonstrated her poise under pressure) actually proved a selling point in launching TV career — proving that within every challenge there is hidden opportunity.

Next: Pastoral Succession That Works by William Vanderbloemen and Warren Bird (BakerBooks): As head of the Vanderbloeman Search Group — which specializes in the staffing of churches and faith-based organizations — William Vanderbloemen (who I’ve interviewed before) knows something about pastoral succession and, therefore, his book is pretty much a must-read for church leaders and boards as they plan ahead for eventual (and inevitable) leadership changes. Vanderbloemen and Bird offer lots of sound advice on that front. But, even if you’re not professionally required to consider such things, the book contains some interesting stories about how churches have effectively — and not so effectively — dealt with such changes. The two most famous stories — from both sides of that ledger — are probably the enormously successful handing off of the torch by Lakewood Church Pastor John Osteen to his son Joel and the sad failure of the Crystal Cathedral to successfully transfer leadership from Robert A. Schuller to Robert H. Schuller.  Fascinating reading. Note: In my next post, William Vanderbloemen talks with me about the Osteen and Schuller sagas, as well as how churches, in general, can benefit from drawing up a leadership succession strategy. 

The Power of Pronouncing Blessing by Georgina Boye (WestBow Press): As someone who believes and has experienced the positive power of prayer and blessings, I think this simple book filled with simple prayers and blessings is worth noting. Prayer works. Georgina Boye Woolley, BTW, pastors Dayspring Glory Ministries in the Bronx.

New on DVD:

Pure Flix has announced the June 16 DVD release of Old Fashioned (PG-13). You can read my review of the film, which follows the story of former frat boy who finds religion with a free-spirited young woman with ideas of her own, here. The film’s theatrical trailer is below.

The theatrical release of Old Fashioned opened on 224 screens last Valentine’s weekend (when it competed with Fifty Shades of Grey)  and grossed an impressive $1.9 million at the box office.

New in Music:

Capitol Christian Music Group has just released Where The Light Is, the debut album from award-winning singer/songwriter Dan Bremnes. The recording, a follow-up to his April EP of the same name, features 11 tracks and six new songs,  including the title song and his first radio hit Beautiful.

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