Category : Movies & Television

(NYT) ‘Jeopardy!’ Tournament to Settle Question: Who is the Greatest of All Time?

In a television event unlike anything “Jeopardy!” has staged before, three of the game show’s record-breaking players — James Holzhauer, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter — will compete against each other for the sweeping title of “greatest of all time.”

The show’s announcement on Monday came shortly after Holzhauer, the most recent player to become a household name, won the Tournament of Champions after facing Emma Boettcher, the contestant who ended his 32-game streak earlier this year. Holzhauer’s dominant strategy and high-value bets made him into a national celebrity and set the stage for a matchup of this magnitude. “Jeopardy!” is milking the combined stardom for all it’s worth.

All three players hold records on the game show’s hall of fame. Jennings captivated “Jeopardy!” fans with a 74-game winning streak in 2004 during which he made $2.52 million, which remains the highest total winnings during regular-season play.

Read it all.

Posted in * General Interest, America/U.S.A., Movies & Television

An ABC Nightline Profile Piece on Dolly Parton

Sadness is a major theme in Parton’s music. On WNYC host Jad Abumrad’s podcast, “Dolly Parton’s America,” she revealed that she went through a rough time in her 30s when she dealt with weight gain and “some family things.” Parton said she even contemplated writing a last letter during her struggle with depression.

“I don’t think people can live in this world without going through times like that,” Parton said. “People always look at me, they always say, ‘Oh, you just always seem to be so happy.’ I said, ‘that’s the Botox.’ No, but seriously, I’m a very sensitive person. I feel everything to the core.”

It was during that time in the 1980s, she told Roberts, that she’d had “a complete breakdown.”

“I could totally relate to how people do get on drugs or alcohol, how people do commit suicide, because when you’re a tender, loving, caring, sensitive person, you feel like you can only stand so much heartache and sorrow,” Parton added.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Movies & Television

A Terrific NYT Profile Article on Tom Hanks–this Story Will Help You Feel Less Bad

I was worn down over the next few weeks as I spent hours on the phone with people who knew him well. The things they said about him were both remarkable and unremarkable: Heller called him “a human” who “treats everyone like people.” Meg Ryan, who starred with him in “Sleepless in Seattle” and other movies said he has an “astronomical” curiosity. Peter Scolari, who co-starred with him on the sitcom “Bosom Buddies” and then “Lucky Guy” on Broadway, called him “this very special man who is touched by God.” Sally Field told me that Tom Hanks is so good that it actually makes her feel bad. She calls him “Once in a lifetime Tom.”

Hearing that made me think of something Tom Junod said to me in Toronto, how he went into the Mister Rogers story looking for who Fred was but came out knowing only what he did. He stared at all his reporting for a long time before he realized that the doing is actually the thing we should be paying attention to. “I don’t know if Fred was the mask or the mask was Fred,” he said. “But in the end does it even matter?”

I’m not sure where we got the concept of an Everyman, but Tom Hanks isn’t really it. I don’t know people with hundreds of typewriters. He is the Platonic ideal of a man, a projection of what we wish we were, or, more worrisome, a theory of what we actually are, and, well: Have you read the other pages of this newspaper?

I am too old for Mister Rogers. My children are too old for Mister Rogers, too. So instead I showed them “Splash,” then “Forrest Gump,” then “Big,” then “A League of Their Own.” I showed them “That Thing You Do!” and parts of “Cast Away.” I told them about the man who heard I wasn’t feeling well and adjusted his schedule for me. I told them that it doesn’t matter why you do nice things; all that matters is that you do them. And one day, something changed. I had just finished “Toy Story 4,” and suddenly all my algorithms were recommending openhearted movies with heroes and good values, and I realized that I had begun to feel a little better. My heart was never a spike; it was always an umbrella but sometimes it would invert against a storm. That day I recalibrated, and suddenly my umbrella was upright, once again able to shield me from the weather. It was enough. It was more than enough. This is an accurate reflection of the time Tom Hanks spent with a journalist.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Entertainment, Movies & Television

(EF) Letitia Wright and the silencing of personal faith

There was a time when the media assumed that readers had no interest in faith. Whenever spirituality was mentioned, often only exotic beliefs and practices were presented – the Christian faith was not cool enough.

However, things are changing. A few days ago, Apple published a long interview with Kanye West on video about his new album, ‘Jesus Is King’, in which he who is one of the most influential musicians of the twentieth century, spent much of the time talking openly about his encounter with God and how Jesus changed all of his priorities in life.

But not always the public gets to read such reflections. Due to short space or time, interviews are not usually reproduced or published in full, so there is always a margin for the journalist to decide which ideas of the interviewee will appear, and which will not. It is often then when the references to Christianity, it there are any, disappear.

It happened with the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize, Denis Mukwege, of whom few reported that his strong Christian worldview informed all of his work in favor of women victims of sexual violence in war. Something similar could be said about this year’s Nobel Peace Laureate, Abiy Ahmed Ali, a Pentecostal Christian.

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Media, Movies & Television, Religion & Culture

(CT) The New ‘Harriet’ Biopic Is Faithful to Tubman’s Faith

Harriet Tubman is one of America’s most iconic figures, as evidenced by the proposed (and still delayed) Harriet Tubman 20-dollar bill and the new biopic Harriet, produced by Focus Features.

After she escaped slavery in 1849, Tubman worked as the only female conductor on the Underground Railroad, assisting escapees along a short route through free states. She was one of the few who at great risk entered slave-holding states to extract slaves and lead them north to freedom. Nicknamed “Moses” by abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, very few knew Harriet’s real identity; most assumed a man was making these voyages. Tubman also served in the US army as a nurse, advisor, scout, and spy. Her greatest feat in the service was leading the charge that freed over 750 slaves in the Combahee River Raid in South Carolina.

The film, which covers her life from 1849 to 1864, releases nationwide this weekend. Jenny McGill spoke recently with Kate Clifford Larson, author of Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman, Portrait of an American Hero, about the historical accuracy of the film, Tubman’s deep Christian faith, and the African American spirituals that were key to her rescue missions.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Church History, Movies & Television, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

(NYT) Biggest Late-Night Guests Now Bring a News Angle, Not a Movie Clip

In this supercharged news environment, anchors like Bret Baier and Chris Wallace, both of Fox News, have been late-night guests, as have the CBS News stalwarts Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell. When Ms. King and Ms. O’Donnell were the lead guests on Mr. Colbert’s live show after the State of the Union address in February, they drew an audience of 4.6 million.

Jay Sures, a co-president of the United Talent Agency, which represents many news anchors, said he had noticed a spike in bookings for his clients. “They’ve unintentionally become celebrities based on how the news business has become part of our daily routine in a way it never has before,” he said. “The Trump era has elevated news.”

Mr. Burnett, the former producer for Mr. Letterman, agreed. “As a rule, we weren’t trying to book politicians or pundits,” he said. “You were trying to book things that your audience cared about. Back then, people did not care about politics to the extent that they do now.”

As Mr. Tapper put it: “It’s a reflection of people just being incredibly engaged and fascinated and focused and horrified on everything going on in Washington. It’s definitely a new world.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Entertainment, Ethics / Moral Theology, Media, Movies & Television, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Donald Trump, Theology

(NYT) ‘Keeping Faith’ Is a Hit in Two Languages

“Keeping Faith” offered everything the Welsh actor Eve Myles had been waiting for: An unflinching leading lady. A richly layered mystery showcasing her magical homeland. A role so different from anything she’d previously done that it was almost frightening.

And yet she turned it down repeatedly, uncertain that she could dig deep enough into the character — let alone in more than one language.

Developed by the Welsh-language channel S4C and co-produced by BBC Wales and Acorn Media Enterprises, “Keeping Faith” was designed to be shot in two versions: One in English and the other (titled “Un Bore Mercher,” meaning “One Wednesday Morning”) in Welsh, which Myles, like so many natives of Wales, didn’t actually speak.

But in the end, her fear of regretting passing on the job outweighed her fear of actually doing it.

“I had to take a deep breath and go, O.K., if you’re going for it, don’t do a mediocre job,” Myles recalled recently. “If you’re going to do it, smash the [expletive] out of it.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Wales, England / UK, Entertainment, Movies & Television

9/11 CNBC Coverage from 8:46-8:55

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Media, Movies & Television, Terrorism

(SHNS) Terry Mattingly–Young adults get sequence of sex and marriage wrong

These debates happen all the time, and pastors know that many young people in their pews have made their own compromises between centuries of doctrine and premarital sex, said sociologist W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia.

“What’s striking about what we see here is how naive so many young people are about life and love and marriage,” said Wilcox, referring to “The Bachelorette” clash. “They don’t seem to understand how important it is to develop self-control as they try to move seriously into emotional, physical and spiritual relationships. …

“So many young people don’t realize that what the pop culture is selling them is not conducive to a good relationship, based on what we know from the social sciences.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Movies & Television, Religion & Culture, Sexuality

(NYT) ‘The Town Hall of Hollywood.’ Welcome to the Netflix Lobby.

Dolly Parton recently held court there, big wig and all. Leonardo DiCaprio and John Kerry arrived at the same time last month. Cindy Crawford on the left, David Letterman on the right. And isn’t that Beyoncé by the espresso bar?

Welcome to the hottest see-and-be-seen spot in Hollywood: Netflix’s first-floor waiting room.

Scratch that. It’s a “lobby experience” and “creative gateway,” according to a design firm that worked on the space. An 80-foot by 12-foot video screen makes visitors feel like they are inside Netflix shows — visiting the “Narcos” cocaine lab, for instance, or sitting on the Blue Cat Lodge boat dock from “Ozark.” Another wall is covered by at least 3,500 plants, a living mural that includes red Flamingo Lilies, known for their big pistils.

Every era in Hollywood has a symbolic epicenter, a place that sums up everything, especially power and sometimes absurdity. Gifting suites at the Sundance Film Festival epitomized the overheated indie boom of the 2000s. The monolithic new Creative Artists Agency headquarters arrived on cue at the end of that decade and represented an increasingly corporate film business. Next came Comic-Con International, a sweaty July convention for superhero devotees that marked a turn toward franchises and fan communities.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Corporations/Corporate Life, Entertainment, Movies & Television

Russell Moore with some Interesting Reflections on Judge Judy, Justice and America

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Movies & Television, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Washington Post) Jamie Aten–How A Stephen Curry produced documentary explores forgiveness in the 2015 Charleston church shooting

Q: What first drew you to the “Emanuel” project?

A: I had just gotten married in June 2015, and I was on my honeymoon in New York. I walked into the bedroom, and my wife was crying. She told me nine people had been shot in their Bible study in Charleston, South Carolina.

Then she looked at me and said, “You don’t understand, they’re forgiving him. The family members are forgiving the murderer.” I remember looking at her and saying, “I hope whoever tells that story doesn’t skip that part.” It was that moment for me — encountering this radical, scandalous forgiveness and love for the murderer — that drew me into the story. I wanted the world to know that part of the story.

Q: What was different in this story?

A: It was that they loved him. It was this moment when (survivor) Felicia Sanders said something to him that really changed me: “We enjoyed you.”

When I go out and talk about the film, I’m not just talking about them forgiving him because they wanted to be emotionally free from him. I’m talking about a kind of love you rarely see. Their love for the shooter was a love that said, “I will bear the full weight of the wrong,” which is the highest kind of love — a love for your enemy.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Adult Education, America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Movies & Television, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Violence

Remembering Especially the Charleston 9 who died 4 years ago today in the Mother Emanuel Church Shooting

Posted in * South Carolina, Adult Education, America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Movies & Television, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Violence

Still more on the remarkable Josiah Henson–the Trailer for his Documentary

Posted in America/U.S.A., Books, History, Movies & Television, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

(BBC) The prosperity gospel preachers getting rich from poor Americans and the Christians trying to thwart their efforts

Televangelists are not as talked about today as they were in the 1980s and 1990s, when many rose to fame and fortune through mushrooming cable channels.

But they have never gone away. Even after numerous press exposés, the rogue elements have often bounced back. Some have got even richer. Many have taken their appeals on to social media.

A number of those making the most persistent pleas for money tap into something called the prosperity gospel, which hinges on a belief that your health and wealth are controlled by God, and God is willing you to be prosperous. Believers are encouraged to show their faith through payments, which they understand will be repaid – many times over – either in the form of wealth or healing.

For followers, it is a way to make sense of sickness and poverty. It can feel empowering and inspiring amid despair. The hard-up donors are often not oblivious to the preachers’ personal wealth – though they may not know the extent of it – but they take the riches as a sign of a direct connection with God. If seed payments have worked for them, maybe they can work for you too?

And if the seeds never flourish? Some are told their faith is not strong enough, or they have hidden sin. In Larry’s case, he often interpreted small pieces of good fortune – a gift of groceries from a neighbour, or the promise of a few extra hours of work for his wife, Darcy – as evidence of fruition.

He estimates he gave about $20,000 to these operators over the years. A little here, a little there. A few years ago, he started tallying it all up.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Movies & Television, Personal Finance, Religion & Culture, Theology

A Movie Scene for Memorial Day 2019 from Mr. Holland’s Opus

Watch it all–KSH.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Military / Armed Forces, Movies & Television

TV recommendation–‘The Highwaymen’

You can find it on Netflix. The interactions between Kevin Costner And Woody Harrelson alone are worth the price of admission–very well done–KSH.

Posted in Movies & Television

(Guardian) BBC ‘Year of Beliefs’ to shine light on faith and values in modern UK

The BBC is launching a year-long series of programmes examining faith, belief and values in modern Britain.

As part of its coverage of a society that is “more diverse, more complex and more divided than ever before”, the corporation will launch a major survey of attitudes to contentious issues and ethical dilemmas.

The broadcaster’s “Year of Beliefs” commissions include landmark series and one-off documentaries on television and radio to address issues such as science and religion, LGBT+, circumcision, surrogacy and medical ethics.

Among the programmes is Inside the Vatican, a look behind the scenes at the independent city-state at the heart of the Catholic church, filmed over a year. The two-part documentary promises “astonishing access”, including to Pope Francis, the choristers of the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican’s security personnel, diplomats and gardeners.

A one-off documentary, Welcome to the Bruderhof, explores a village near Hastings that is home to 300 Christians who live together as disciples of Christ, spurning cars and mobile phones.

Read it all.

Posted in England / UK, Media, Movies & Television, Religion & Culture

(Local Paper) ‘Emanuel’ documentary produced by Viola Davis and Steph Curry gets to heart of grace

Filmed in the homes of victims’ family members, and inside the church, the 75-minute award-winning documentary “Emanuel” was produced by Oscar-winning actress Viola Davis, a native of St. Matthews, and NBA basketball star Steph Curry, who started a film production company earlier this year and is outspoken about his Christian faith.

“They both love the film, not only for its message of forgiveness and faith, but also for its dedication to justice and peace in America,” Ivie says. “Their partnership is a rare one in a very divided industry, but it obviously speaks to the power of the story and the heart of these people that we are humbled to represent.”

The documentary is among a few made about the shooting, including hour-long public radio release “Eyes Closed in Prayer” and Tribune Film Festival’s “Leo Twiggs: Requiem for Mother Emanuel.” Yet, it stands apart in its search for the source of the unexpected forgiveness that touched so many heavy hearts in the wake of the tragedy.

There have been other attempts to tell this story,” says Ivie. “Many of them do mention forgiveness, but I also think what separates our telling from all the others is our theological understanding of where that forgiveness comes from. And that is the cross of Jesus Christ.”

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in * South Carolina, Movies & Television, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology, Violence

(WSJ) Terry Teachout on the Movie the “Best Years of our Lives” (1946)–The Once-United States

It wasn’t necessary to serve in World War II to know such fellowship. Well into the ’60s, many Americans grew up in towns that had no private schools or gated communities. They lived among, went to school with, worked next to and got to know all kinds of people. Starting in the ’70s, though, America started to undergo a demographic transformation that has since been dubbed “the Big Sort.” More and more Americans started seeking out people who shared their cultural and political inclinations, moving to regions that over time became populated with like-minded citizens. In the words of Bill Bishop and Robert G. Cushing, who identified and named the Big Sort in their 2008 book titled after the phenomenon, they chose to live in “communities of sameness…whose inhabitants find other Americans to be culturally incomprehensible.” The result is postmodern America, a walled-off land in which you need not spend time with, much less befriend anyone, who disagrees with you about anything of importance—and in which you thus become more likely to demonize the strangers with whom you do disagree.

The fact that we now live in such a country has, I suspect, something to do with the steadily growing popularity of “The Best Years of Our Lives.” Whether we realize it or not, Wyler’s poignant portrait of a nation recovering from war reminds all who watch it that America used to be a far friendlier place—and makes you wonder what will become of a land whose angry, distrustful citizens are increasingly choosing to live solely among their own kind.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Military / Armed Forces, Movies & Television

A WSJ Profile Article About life at Netflix: A Company where Radical Transparency and Blunt Firings Unsettle the Ranks

The Netflix way emphasizes “freedom and responsibility,” trusting employees to use discretion—whether it is about taking vacation, flying business class or expensing an Uber ride home. Virtually every employee can access sensitive information, from how many subscribers sign up in each country to viewership of shows to contractual terms for Netflix’s production deals. Executives at the director level and above—some 500 people—can see the salaries of every employee.

Employees are encouraged to give one another blunt feedback. Managers are all told to apply a “keeper test” to their staff—asking themselves whether they would fight to keep a given employee—a mantra for firing people who don’t fit the culture and ensuring only the strongest survive.

Staying true to Mr. Hastings’ vision, always difficult, is getting harder thanks to the breakneck pace of growth and change at the company. In little over a decade, Netflix has gone from a DVD-by-mail outfit to a globe-spanning Hollywood powerhouse with more than 6,000 full- and part-time employees, including nearly 2,000 added just this year so far.

“As you scale a company to become bigger and bigger how do you scale that kind of culture?” said Colin Estep, a former senior engineer who left voluntarily in 2016. “I don’t know that we ever had a good answer.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Entertainment, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Movies & Television, Pastoral Theology

(LA Times) ‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor?’: The documentary that shows how Mister Rogers made goodness desirable

It had a simple set and minimal production values. As a host, it employed an ordained Presbyterian minister whose flashiest move was changing into a cardigan sweater. A likely candidate for legendary television success “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” was not.

Yet for more than 30 years, Fred Rogers’ Pittsburgh-based public television half-hour was a small-screen powerhouse, entrancing generations of wee fans and even influencing public policy. Not bad for a man who believed “love is at the root of everything … love or the lack of it.”

Although Rogers died in 2003 at age 74, the excellent “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” is the first documentary on him, and Morgan Neville is the ideal filmmaker to do the job.

A documentary veteran who won the Oscar for the entrancing “Twenty Feet From Stardom,” Neville is an experienced professional who knows what questions to ask and, working with editors Jeff Malmberg and Aaron Wickenden, how to assemble the answers.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Christology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Movies & Television, Pastoral Theology, Presbyterian, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(NYT) For ‘Columbiners,’ School Shootings Have a Deadly Allure

The May 18 mass shooting at Santa Fe provides the latest evidence of a phenomenon that researchers have in recent years come to recognize, but are still unable to explain: The mass shootings that are now occurring with disturbing regularity at the nation’s schools are shocking, disturbing, tragic — and seemingly contagious.

Interviews with law enforcement officials, educators, researchers, students and a gunman’s mother, as well as a review of court documents, academic studies and the writings of killers and would-be killers, show that the school-shooting copycat syndrome has grown more pervasive and has steadily escalated in recent years. And much of it can be traced back to the two killers at Columbine, previously ordinary high school students who have achieved dark folk hero status — their followers often known as “Columbiners” — in the corners of the internet where their carefully planned massacre is remembered, studied and in some cases even celebrated.

Investigators say school shootings have become the American equivalent of suicide bombings — not just a tactic, but an ideology. Young men, many of them depressed, alienated or mentally disturbed, are drawn to the Columbine subculture because they see it as a way to lash out at the world and to get the attention of a society that they believe bullies, ignores or misunderstands them.

The seemingly contagious violence has begun branching off Columbine, researchers say, and is now bringing in more recent attacks, many of them building off the details and media fixation with the last.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Media, Movies & Television, Psychology, Teens / Youth, Theology, Violence

TV Recommendation: Showtime’s Documentary on Tim McGraw+Faith Hill’s Soul2Soul World Tour

Posted in America/U.S.A., Children, Entertainment, Marriage & Family, Movies & Television, Music

(WSJ) Charlotte Allen–The Story Behind ‘Paul, Apostle of Christ’

Christian prohibitions against abortion and infanticide encouraged the survival of baby girls and dramatically increased Christian fertility over the long term once those girls grew up and married. Many took pagan husbands, whom they sometimes converted, and then raised their children as Christians—another demographic boost.

All this is at the very heart of Mr. Hyatt’s understated movie, which takes place in the dank and clamorous Roman alleyways where slaves are bought and sold and mob violence rules. While Paul and Luke ( Jim Caviezel ) are central to the story, as important are Aquila ( John Lynch ) and Priscilla ( Joanne Whalley ). This affluent Christian married couple opened their house to alleviate some of the misery around them, feeding and sheltering families made homeless by the Great Fire.

Luke uses his physician’s skills, not a miracle, to heal a dying erstwhile pagan girl and touch the hearts of her parents. The imprisoned Paul is an icon of the power of forgiveness, for he himself has been forgiven for murdering Christians in his youth. The Christians marked for death in the arena are terrified ordinary people who somehow summon the faith to trust in an eternal life they have never seen.

Mr. Hyatt has dedicated his movie to “all who have been persecuted for their faith.” Today that resonates in large and small ways—from Islamic State’s violent repression of Christians to the controversy over wedding cakes in the U.S. It also should resonate with the future makers of faith-based movies: You don’t need $30 million to tell a powerful Christian tale.

Read it all.

Posted in History, Movies & Television, Religion & Culture, Theology: Scripture

(Guardian) Stephen Pimpare– Opinion Where are all the films about poor Americans?

Buried within the Trump administration’s recent budget was a proposal to sharply cut food stamp funding. In its place would be a box of government-provided foods, a scheme sure to be a boondoggle benefiting only the companies who get contracts to produce and deliver these packages. The plan offers yet more evidence of the lack of policy knowledge within the administration, its ignorance of the scale and scope of US hunger and poverty, and its disregard and contempt for the millions who, despite their best efforts, still struggle to get by.

That said, there’s nothing especially novel about the administration’s attitude – disdain for poor people is a longstanding feature of American political culture.

Hollywood has been among the guilty parties. Thanks to April Reign’s #OscarsSoWhite campaign, we are developing the habit of evaluating how well women, people of color and LGBT Americans are represented among the nominees. But the notion that we should also look for better representation of poverty in the movies is still not on our radar. It should be.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Movies & Television, Poverty

(NY Post) Salena Zito–Faith is no longer a virtue in America

Last week Joy Behar, co-host of the ABC show “The View,” did something that has become an escalating trend in our popular culture over the past 10 years — she mocked religiosity.

In a segment about Vice President Mike Pence and his belief that he hears the voice of God, Behar quipped: “It’s one thing to talk to Jesus. It’s another thing when Jesus talks to you. That’s called mental illness, if I’m not correct . . . hearing voices.”

The audience of “The View” clapped and laughed along with her.

But outside the entertainment bubble, in places like Cumberland, people were horrified.

“I am not sure what shocked me the most, that Behar mocked one of the core beliefs of Christianity or the reaction of the studio audience,” said Tim McGregor, pastor at the Lighthouse of Hope, a non-denominational Christian church here in western Maryland.

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Entertainment, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, History, Movies & Television, Religion & Culture

(Telegraph) Church of England calls for daytime ban on betting adverts amid fears of ‘moral crisis’ facing children

The Church of England has called for a ban on betting adverts before the 9pm watershed in a bid to tackle the growing “moral crisis” facing children and young people.

The Rt Rev Alan Smith, the Bishop of St Albans, told The Daily Telegraph that society will reap a ‘terrible harvest’ because gambling is being ‘normalised’ for children and young people.

The Church is calling for the exemption which allows gambling companies to show adverts before the 9pm watershed to be closed and for social media giants to take greater responsibility.

According to official figures, children see an average of 185 gambling adverts a year, equivalent to nearly four a weeks. Premier League football games have around five commercials from betting firms per game.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Gambling, Movies & Television

(Sunday [London] Times) interviews director Andrey Zvyagintsev–‘Russia is going through a period of profound religious crisis’

Was he aware of the risks he was taking? Putin is not big on criticism. “Yes, of course, we were fully aware of what we were doing. We did touch on extremely sensitive issues for Russian people: the authorities and the Orthodox church. We were making serious problems for ourselves, but we knew what we were doing, both me and my producer.”

The Orthodox church, which, disgracefully, has become yet another Putinised institution, is a particularly sensitive target. Zvyagintsev showed the script of the final scene of Leviathan, in which ecclesiastical cruelty and complacency are exposed, only to the actors involved; he didn’t want the others implicated. What on earth has happened to Russian religion?

“Russia is going through a period of profound religious crisis. Religion has become more a kind of ritualism than a profound Christianity. This is really disturbing.

“There’s a line between Christianity and paganism. In Christianity, the line between good and evil is within ourselves. In paganism, the division is between myself and the rest of the world. What I see happening in Russia now is the extremely regressive rise of that antagonistic feeling towards the other, who is deemed evil by those who claim to be good.”

Read it all (subscription required).

Posted in Movies & Television, Orthodox Church, Paganism, Religion & Culture, Russia

(CNN) Daniel Burke–What is the spiritual message hidden in Star Wars?

 …the latest film in the saga, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” touches on trends in American religious life in some surprising ways, especially for a franchise that’s so nakedly commercial. (“The Last Jedi” was the highest-grossing movie in the United States last year and raked in nearly $1.3 billion worldwide.)
“It is very much a movie of this time,” said the Rev. angel Kyodo williams, a Buddhist teacher, social justice activist and “Star Wars” aficionado who lives Berkeley, California. “It draws on ancient teachings, as well as what is happening in this country right now.”
But there’s some debate about what “The Last Jedi” intends to say about modern religious life: Is it warning about the end of organized religion, or a parable about spiritual renewal?

Read it all.

Posted in Buddhism, Movies & Television, Religion & Culture