Here’s the latest from the crossroads of faith, media & culture: 07/16/21

Remembering Harry Chapin

A consequential life. The world has changed a lot in the 40 years since one of my all-time favorite musical artists, the legendary singer/songwriter Harry Chapin, was killed this day in a tragic car accident on New York’s Long Island Expressway in in 1981 – yet the profound issues he sang about are, like his work, timeless.

Beyond his musical talent, he was also a family man who cared about the world he lived in. It was his compassion for others that led to him being posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for his humanitarian in 1987.

Among his many philanthropic efforts was Long Island Cares, an organization the Long Island resident founded in 1980 just a year before his death. The organization continues today, distributing over ten million pounds of food and supplies annually to nearly 400 member agencies in Nassau and Suffolk Counties. It’s services were very appreciated by those who unexpectedly found themselves facing food insecurity during the pandemic. 

Sandy Chapin, Harry’s widow, Sandy is now chair of Long Island Cares, as well as The Harry Chapin Foundation which supports organizations that “dramatically improve the lives and livelihood of people by helping them to become self-sufficient.” Other family members are also active in the organization.

Here are Sandy and Harry’s son Josh Chapin talking about the impact of Harry’s most famous recording (based on a poem by Sandy). His performance of the classic Cat’s in Cradle follows. The iconic song says a lot about living in the moment and not letting less important things distract us from what’s most important.

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Netflix just dropped its trailer for Pray Away. Due in August, the documentary aims to ignite a conversation within the faith community about the role religion played in promoting largely discredited conversion therapy for gay people struggling with perceived contradictions between their faith and their sexual identity.

Executive produced by Ryan Murphy (9-1-1, American Horror Story, Glee) the film doesn’t exactly take on new ground. Indeed, the subject has been tackled in other media, such as CBS Sunday Morning and the 2018 dramatic film Boy Erased starring Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe. Still, the fact that the topic has been addressed before doesn’t mean that the message that shaming people for who they are is an awful thing – especially when done in the name of faith.

“Be who you are and be that well.”
St. Francis de Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life

I think that applies here. Let’s all of us just get about the business of living our lives as best we can without presuming to change or shame others. BTW, that de Sales guy said a lot of good stuff.

I also agree with the YouTube commenter who posted this beneath the film’s trailer: Kinda hope Netflix also makes a documentary about homosexuality in the Middle East or even in the Caribbean

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

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