Here’s the latest from the crossroads of faith, media & culture: 05/16/24

Touched by God. Taking the classic CBS series Touched by an Angel to an even higher plane, Destination Heaven tells stories of ordinary people encountering God the Father (who looks a lot like Harry Lennix, aka the Martian Manhunter in the DC movie universe). In the premiere, which starts streaming tonight at 8:00 PM ET on Great American Pure Flix, the Almighty has an assignment for a successful businesswoman (Emily Rose of Syfy’s Haven) regarding the homeless man (Kevin Sorbo) camped outside her office. After watching the surprisingly humorous episode, I spoke with Rose about what drew her to the role.

JWK:  So, what was it about the script that interested you when you read it?

Emily Rose: I’ve been really great friends with the writer Dean Batali (That ’70s Show, Good Witch) for a really long time. We’re always looking for stuff to work on together…We have a very similar background in that we’ve been people of faith in the entertainment industry. I feel like we have very similar hearts for what kind of content gets put out there. So, for me, it’s the ability to work on something more humorous and the ability to kind of banter more than maybe some of the things I’ve been given in the past – and then also just joining up with faith and family content. I don’t really get that opportunity much. To me all of that was really exciting.

JWK: Have you worked with Dean before?

ER: No, I know him (but) this was the first time we actually were able to (work together)…We’ve worked on creating and developing things in pre-production before but I have not gotten to actually work with him on something (until now).

JWK: Prior to this show, you worked on the Syfy show Haven. In a way, both that show and Destination Heaven deal with the supernatural. How would you compare working for Syfy and Great American Pure Flix in terms of their approach to that kind of topic?

ER: I think what’s really fun about working with a platform like (Great American Pure Flix) is that there’s a piece of my artistry, there is a piece of who I am, that I am fully allowed to (reveal). It’s for an audience that understands that deep part that is closest to my heart. Being able to have those conversations, you know you’re on set not only having conversations with the writer about the character but you’re also discussing the theological themes as part of your rehearsal (for) what you’re doing.

I think what is refreshing to a writer when they are working with an actor that has a deep faith – especially if it’s a writer with faith – is that they’re able to say “Hey, let’s bring this piece out” versus a stereotypical version of it. A small example of that would be this part where (my character) Jenna starts praying at work over her meal. I feel like if that was done in the mainstream media by maybe a mainstream actor who didn’t maybe have that relationship, that typically would be (played as) hands folded, eyes bowed, “This is what prayer looks like.” Dean and I really discussed (this). Like, hey, she’s praying over her meal at lunch. How do you pray over your meal at lunch? You just pray.

JWK: Right, you don’t make a show out of it.

ER: Little things like that make it more genuine and I think also less generic or stereotypical. This is the audience we’re talking to, people with a daily faith on a daily walk. This is how they’re working through their faith journey.

JWK: Of course, your episode deals with the issue of homelessness. What do you hope people take from the episode? What do you take from it?

ER: What I love about it is the angle of what it says in Scripture – (that) we need to be working out our faith and we need to be prepared to give an answer. What I love about the relationship between Jenna and God the Father when she’s talking (with Him) in person is that there is this relational working out of her faith (through) this relational conversation. I think we all kind of come into places where we’re dealing with like the reverence of “Take off your sandals. You’re standing on holy ground before God.” Then (there’s) Jesus who was appearing to His disciples after the Resurrection. They’re walking and talking about these things and all of a sudden He appears and makes Himself known…and they were amazed. He was just in conversation with them. We see the duality of that in Scripture.

To me what I loved about this episode is we’re seeing somebody who has a close walk in her faith but she understands that in this specific way of being generous, being charitable, being hospitable, reaching out, caring for the poor looks like this – “This is what I’m able to do” – but what if God asks you to step outside of your comfort zone and He literally has those conversations with you and you wrestle with Him about it? I loved doing that – but in a lighthearted way so therefore it made that conversation accessible to a lot of people.

JWK: Have you ever dealt with the issue in your own life? It’s kind of tough – especially in the cities. Sometimes it seems like they’re everywhere and you always feel like you should give more but, realistically, it’s a tough thing.

ER: Yeah, and you deal with that in different seasons of your life. I lived in Los Angeles for 17 (or) 18 years. We recently ended up relocating to a different part of the country. I remember, with all three of my kids when we were in LA, frequently getting off the freeways (and encountering) this houseless/homeless population at every underpass and talking to (my children) about how we can best help, how we can best be generous.

In different seasons of your life – as a single person, as a woman, as a man – that looks differently. Some of my guy friends would go and buy tacos or provide a shower or whatnot. Sometimes as a family it meant coming down and being a regular part of a homeless ministry. For another friend of mine, Caitlin Crosby, it was about providing work and employment for homeless people through The Giving Keys. It looks like different things.

What’s so cool is coming to a different part of the country where the homeless population isn’t as massive as in an inner city yet I’ve driven down our little street and there are two homeless people that we see quite regularly. In this community you will frequently see people sitting next to them on the bench with a meal, talking with them and getting to know their story. So, it looks different in all different (life) stages and in different parts of the country. I do believe that, thank God, He knows your heart. It’s what He’s calling you individually to step into in the next part of your journey. What does that look like for you in this season? If…I have young kids it’s gonna look a little different. It may look like just having a bag of food in my car that I can give if I need to – but, yes, it’s still wise to keep my kiddos safe.

JWK: There is a certain reality factor.

ER: Yeah. Pay attention to what God is calling you to do in that moment. That’s what I always want to be obedient towards.

JWK: I see that you have three children. The oldest boy’s middle name is Christian and your young daughter is named Mercy. I guess the names of your children reflect your faith as well.

ER: Yeah. When we had my oldest that was really important to me. We knew that his name would be announced. Christian is a family name for us but it’s (meaning is) also really important to our core as a family. So that was really big. Then my grandma’s name was Mercy but we also loved what that stood for.

JWK: Going forward, what would be your dream role in the future?

ER: Currently I’m producing a lot of stuff. I am looking to do more acting roles but also Dean and I talk a lot about potentially getting to work with him on stuff and getting to direct.  I would love to pair up more with this network and do more things. Obviously, working with like-minded people is a blast. I think we’re coming into a new season in entertainment where the quality and the expectation bar is being raised. If I’m being 100% honest there are dreams. There are things I want to do but I think for me – as a wife and a mom and an artist – I’m constantly just holding before the Lord (asking) “God do you still want me in this industry? Do you still want me doing this stuff? If you do, please keep opening up doors because I need you to show me.” So, for me, on the simplest point it’s like I just want to keep doing what I love to do and I just pray that I keep getting hired to be able to do it.

Holy war. What if The Bible was cancelled? That’s the provocative question posed by Disciples in the Moonlight,  a suspense film set in a not-too-distant future in which the government has banned Old and New Testaments and replaced them with a government-approved newer version. With a ruthless federal agent in hot pursuit, a small group of believers-turned-smugglers band together to preserve the Word of God. The Pinnacle Peak Pictures/Fathom release is set to open in over 1000 on July 24th. Check out the trailer below.


A special gift for Middle-earth nerds. Following up on Tuesday’s upfront event, Amazon Prime Video has  released this teaser trailer featuring the cast of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power previewing Season 2 which begins streaming globally on Thursday, August 29, 2024.

John W. Kennedy is a writer, producer and media development consultant specializing in television and movie projects that uphold positive timeless values, including trust in God.

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

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