Category : Movies & Television

(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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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?

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Posted in Buddhism, Movies & Television, Religion & Culture

(Time) Oprah Winfrey and Donald Trump Promote the Same Populist Theology

Oprah Winfrey’s public image could not be more different from Donald Trump’s.

While the longtime talk show host is famous for getting her guests to open up emotionally, Trump’s signature move on The Apprentice was firing contestants, who often left the boardroom crying.

But beneath their vastly different images, Winfrey and Trump share the same populist theology. Both preach a gospel of American prosperity, the popular cultural movement that helped put Trump in the White House in 2016.

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

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Movies & Television, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Donald Trump, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Shropshire Star) Shropshire vicar and parish team to star in reality TV show

The Reverend Matthew Stafford is based at Holy Trinity Church in picturesque Much Wenlock.

He and the ministry team will be in the spotlight when the ups and downs of four vicars are aired in a new reality show.

Mr Stafford is taking part in the six-part religion series that goes behind the scenes of the lives of vicars in the heart of the countryside covered by Hereford Diocese, which takes in parts of Shropshire.

From opening summer fairs to taking wedding ceremonies for residents, vicars are knitted into the fabric of country life, also providing a pillar of support in times of crisis and personal sorrow. Mr Stafford previously served at Telford’s Wrockwardine Wood and Oakengates parish.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Movies & Television, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(CH) The New Wave auteur who believed great cinema had to be Christian

While thrilling art-house audiences with his urbane, witty films, Éric Rohmer attended Mass each Sunday at the Church of St Medard, subscribed to the royalist weekly La Nation française, and kept up his membership in the Louisquatorziens, a group devoted to the genius of the Sun King.

Publicly, he was one of the leading directors of the French New Wave. In private, he was a Catholic of the old type: loyal to pope and king. As his peers scuttled from one fashionable cause to the next, he admirably refused all political engagement, lapsing only in 1974, when he joined an anti-automobile group called Les Droits du Piéton, and in 2002, when he supported Pierre Rabhi, the Green presidential candidate whose slogan was “Growth is not a solution, it is a problem”. (Rohmer, no leftist, correctly saw that the Greens had come to echo his own aristocratic and reactionary ideals. He asked: “Doesn’t progress often consist in moving backward?”)

Rohmer despised the kind of “engaged” art that indulges in pamphleteering. Rather than trumpet his religious convictions, he used them to construct a unique approach to film-making. Used rightly, he believed a camera could capture the movements of both body and soul. “Be an atheist and the camera will offer you the spectacle of a world without God in which there is no law other than the pure mechanism of cause and effect,” he said. But the greatest film-makers did more:

I am a Catholic. I believe that true cinema is necessarily a Christian cinema, because there is no truth except in Christianity. I believe in the genius of Christianity, and there is not a single great film in the history of cinema that is not infused with the light of the Christian idea.

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Posted in History, Movies & Television, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(Church Times) BBC religion is entering a new era, says Bishop of Norwich Graham James

The BBC’s review of its religion and ethics output “feels like the beginning of a new era” the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham James, has said.

Bishop James, who is the C of E’s lead bishop on media issues, said on Wednesday that BBC had produced “the most promising review of religion and ethics at the BBC that I have seen for a generation… It is very promising all round.”

Earlier on Wednesday, the BBC published plans for reforming its religion and ethics output. These include the establishment of a religion editor for news, a global team of specialist reporters, a greater focus on religious festivals, and creating a “Year of Belief” in 2019.

Bishop James said he was hopeful that the proposals would be implemented, and that they would have an impact on religious programming.

“I’m confident that at the highest level [in the BBC] this is now being taking seriously, at a level I have not seen before.”

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Media, Movies & Television, Religion & Culture

(Yorkshire Post) Do we need more TV programmes about religion?

The BBC has pledged to broaden its range of mainstream religious programmes. But, in our increasingly secular society, is this a step in the right direction? Chris Bond reports. For many people Christmas is a time of enjoyment, a chance to spend some quality time with friends and family. It’s also an opportunity to take stock and reflect as another year draws to a close.

Religion and its inherent message of kindness and helping others is at the heart of Christmas yet increasingly it seems drowned out by the rampant commercialisation of the festive season.

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

(BBC) BBC to air more religious programming

The BBC has pledged to “raise our game” on religion by increasing the portrayal of all faiths in mainstream shows.

The corporation said it would “enhance” the representation of religion on TV and radio dramas and documentaries.

It said it would also create a new global religious affairs team, headed by a religion editor, in BBC News.

The BBC will also keep Thought For The Day on Radio 4’s Today programme – despite presenter John Humphrys saying it’s often “deeply, deeply boring”.

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

(Oxford Handbook of Atheism) What is the relationship between cinema and atheism? A look at the religious dimensions of cinema

We live in a world utterly saturated with images, many of them moving. We tend to believe reportage and footage because we think that the camera never lies, and we sometimes tend to forget that images are shaped and chosen in the name of a particular agenda. At the same time, fiction films offer a kind of desirable escape from the drudgeries of work—not to mention the worship of actors and actresses who often appear as a set of contemporary gods and goddesses, though more in the Greek mode than the Christian, with their fallibilities and sex-lives up for exposure and discussion. There is cinema that is explicitly anti-religious (often ‘factual’ or documentary) and there is cinema (often ‘fictional’) that is a-religious or secular. But very little cinema that is perhaps truly atheist in both form and content, in the sense that it breaks with both the need to ‘believe’ (in a story, in a character) or the desire to forget about the apparatus and technology of cinema itself (would we be happy to watch a film that constantly drew attention to the fact that it was a film, that it was being played over a projector, that it involved a certain number of crew-members, and so on? Of course many films have drawn attention to their conditions of production, but only on rare occasions). One may easily be an atheist in the sense of not believing in God or gods, but one may have harder time denying one’s faith in the moving image.

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Posted in Atheism, History, Movies & Television, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Movie Recommendation–A Man Called “Ove”

We finally got to it–wonderful stuff. Touching, moving and funny–very much worth your time–KSH.

Posted in * By Kendall, Movies & Television

Michael McManus–Why Aren’t Famous Sexual Offenders Prosecuted?

A growing number of prominent media moguls have been accused of sexual assault – Donald Trump, Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, Bill Cosby and most recently, Harvey Weinstein.

Why have none been successfully prosecuted?

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

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Media, Movies & Television, Sexuality, Violence