With the Golden Globe Awards just past and other awards shows in the offing, I must lament the award of Joan of Arcadia as the best new television show of the year by the People's Choice Awards. It only shows the shallowness of today's dumbed-down mindset.
A number of months ago I wrote a criticism of this new, highly popular television program Joan of Arcadia in a neo-Catholic publication in which I questioned the show's New Age, modernist tone, premise, and philosophy. This tone, premise and philosophy were built into the show by its creator, who calls herself a converted Catholic. The creator claims that she packaged the show to sell in the difficult field of popular entertainment. Since what is acceptable in that field is nothing if not New Age and modernist, then it is obvious that such would be the makeup of the program itself. In fact, it is obvious that the creator herself is one of those New Age, modernist "Catholics" who thinks that it is ok to sprinkle such views on her faith like so much seasoning to make the taste "more palatable" as she claims to be trying to make God in this society. Since it is plainly obvious that she has no clue about traditional Catholic truths and doctrines, one cannot fault her for grasping firmly to her notion of what being Catholic means. She, like many Catholics and so-called Catholic sites, think being Catholic is just a question of deciding one is and calling oneself such.
My review warned people to walk carefully in regards to this show. I suggested that, while the show might seem to be a great thing to many, it concealed notions about God, religion, and faith, which run counter to true Catholic doctrine and beliefs. The arguments against my views regarding this show fall into several conclusions based on the kind of weak, dumbed-down logic one would expect from The New Order.
1. The show deals with God, so I should therefore be grateful and praise it
This argument asks us to surrender our beliefs to the point of being thankful for anything, which comes our way as being better than nothing. It is precisely this kind of compromise, which is destroying our faith in the first place. According to this twisted cop-out, Saint Thomas More could and should have spared his neck by being thankful that Henry VIII even spoke of God no matter how the king trampled on God's Word. Since Bruce Almighty deals with God also, then I should ignore the fact that the hero of the movie lifts skirts, commits adultery, ridicules aspects of Christ's life, and has a girlfriend who prays while likewise committing adultery.
2. The show is very popular; therefore it is touching and changing lives
This argument implies that the show's clear and obvious popularity (its ratings and recent People's Choice Award) is relevant to the issue of whether the show's theme, tone, and message is consistent with true Catholic teaching. Since when do ratings and popularity have anything to do with true Catholic anything? So if Mel Gibson's The Passion of The Christ performs miserably at the box office this implies that the movie's message is somehow wrong Catholic teaching? On the contrary, it is precisely The Passion's controversy, which demonstrates its faithful Catholic mission of telling the truth, and not what is popular or least controversial.
Joan is very likely touching and even changing lives, but that is only because our society is so starved for any religious, spiritual depth that any well-made and well-packaged offering would strike a chord with lost souls. While it is nice that the program may bring some or many back to God, the true Catholic should ask on what terms and not just do a wave or applaud like a cheerleader whose standards of "evangelization" are limited to minimal levels.
The great missionaries of our Faith were not content to "touch" lives or gain popularity.
They sought the true kernel of treasure in bringing the true Faith completely and profoundly to souls ignorant of the map to salvation. While it may be enough for the superficial Christian that Joan exposes God to some or many, this should be far too little for the true, serious Catholic!
3. The show connects with young people and therefore is needed
This claim implies that anything, which connects with young people spiritually, should be encouraged and supported. Once again, it all depends on what is being said and how the message is being conveyed, not just how effective or popular the message or program is with any given age group. So if I introduce a rock band into church and young people run in droves to Mass this is a good to be encouraged, supported, and imitated?
This is just another example of the faithful stirring the faith and of consumerist thinking which undermines and handcuffs true faith with notions of popularity and how well a message "connects" with the audience!
4. The show is a good example to young people, and so I should appreciate that.
This argument demonstrates the depths to which our standards have fallen in this modernist, secularist, liberal society. The teenage heroine of this program can hardly be called a model for young people! She regularly disobeys or questions her parents, has lusted after boys, can be stubborn or harsh at times, and shows little if any respect to the God who is gracing her with His intervention. Apparently this is "cool" with this society as long as she does not take drugs or kills anyone or smokes. If there was any doubt that this show is merely a sham, a packaged product to sell as deeply moral and thoughtful programming, that doubt should have been answered when the star of the show accepted a People's Choice Award a few days ago while wearing a low cut red dress and joking that God had not revealed if the show would be granted a second season!
In a recent television interview, this same teen star of the show commented that Joan of Arcadia is not about any one religion, but that the show has its "own religion" which includes everybody. Need we say more? You have all the proof right from the actor's mouth! Only a watered-down, New Age, modernist, New Order Catholic could tolerate and much less applaud any show which sprays that kind of message on the already spiritually confused youth of this country!
5. We must encourage and support those "Catholics" who work in the field of entertainment, for they are the "salt and light" in a field in much need of their input.
This final argument is so conciliatory and appeasing that it is embarrassing. To begin with, there is no doubt that the field of entertainment must be difficult ground on which to sow the seeds of Christianity much less true, Catholic faith. There is also no doubt that we must encourage and support any Catholics who strive to plant the message of their faith in this barren wasteland. Where we have a problem, however, is when Cafeteria, New Age, modernized, or Protestantized Catholics claim to be carrying the banner of the Catholic faith into the battlefields of Hollywood!
Yes, we must encourage and support those true Catholics who bring the True Catholic Faith to the front lines of entertainment, but we should not appease, applaud, congratulate, or fawn over each and every person who calls themselves Christian or worse Catholic and puts on programs and shows that compromise the absolutes of the Faith.
Instead of falling over ourselves to approve of the work of anyone calling himself or herself a Catholic, we must demand that their work reflect the true faith and not some watered-down, New Age replica. To communicate through entertainment can be a great and noble calling if such a mission is undertaken seriously and is faithful to true Catholic doctrine, faith and tradition. So-called Catholics who present anything which is inconsistent with true Catholic faith and doctrine are doing more harm than good.
In this vein, I congratulate Mel Gibson on his effort, for he is truly a shining example of one who has the courage to be the "salt and light" with little regard for ratings, awards, and polls.
I have never implied that Joan of Arcadia is the worst thing on television or that the program is evil. What I have stated clearly, and still believe, is that this program is handcuffed by its packaging and basic deference to the New Age, modernist, feminist, and secular notions so prevalent in our society and probably characteristic of its creators.
It pretends to be more than it is. Joan is a New Age, modernist and secularist attempt to portray and discuss God and the role of God in our lives. It sells out to these forces because it feels that it must do so in order to reach anybody and stay on television.
I am sure that it touches many people and that it has made some difference for people, but the issue for the true, faithful Catholic is not as superficial and simple as reaching, touching, and being popular. God is not some high school encounter class or cheerleading audition. The true, faithful Catholic must go beyond the basic, superficial, watered-down, patronizing, even irreverent portrayal of the Creator of The Universe we see in Joan and strive for the majestic, powerful, uncompromising art seen in Mel Gibson's The Passion of The Christ. The former is a typical example of how religious programming can sell out to popularity, and the latter is a typical example of how religious art can transcend the trivial notions of this world and reach for Heaven with glorious and grace-filled fruitful results.