Since sequels seem to be so popular, I decided to title my follow-up column from Tuesday thusly.
It seems, especially at this time of the year, that more and more we are bombarded with awards shows that, basically are a pulpit for the Hollywood Left to bare their mindless ideas, midriffs and other parts of the body in spouting their liberal, New Age, humanist and really asinine views, while so self-servingly patting themselves on their backs. Aren't we great? Shallowness and depravity seem to take center stage.
But it just isn't the 'movie stars' who are more enamored with themselves than they should be. No. So many, because they have lost touch with what true role models should be - true heroes, lower their standards by being caught up in the buzz of worshiping false idols such as these stars. The next step, to take up whatever cause their heroes espouse.
This only gives credence to more talk shows, more films, television series and slanted news. Reality TV run amok. We are surrounded today by the popular media's version of religion, belief, faith, the spiritual, and the supernatural. We are fed a gagging array of New Age, Feminist, Masonic, modernist, and secular tripe all in the guise of spiritual truths and paths to salvation. Scientology or Kabbala anyone? Whatever is popular at the moment seems to be the trend. The media comes with its own spectrum, ranging from apathy toward religion and faith, to mocking it, to twisting it into the personal pretzels representing the beliefs of the creators and their perceived roads to salvation.
How Far We Have Fallen
While the relationship between faith and the popular media has always had its ups and downs, there was a time when one could find abundant examples of reverence and insight amid the media's journeys into the spiritual. Movies such as The Song of Bernadette and The Miracle of Fatima are beautiful examples of this reverence on the screen. Then came the demise, the elimination of the staunch and respected Legion of Decency. Katie bar the door! Now it seems that the media's only journeys into faith have the purpose of ridiculing, mocking, criticizing, stereotyping, blaspheming, and twisting beliefs.
Movies such as The Last Temptation of Christ, Bloody Mary, and Bruce Almighty only seem to mock and degrade the sacred and divine in the name of entertainment, art, and profit. Television, the theatre, and literature have likewise taken to mocking and twisting religious beliefs and traditions in the name of popularity and profit. Television programs such as Joan of Arcadia, which I treated in my last column, Beyond the glamor and glitz..., and books such as The DaVinci Code present ideas, images, and notions, which degrade the divinity and sacredness of Almighty God. If religion and the spiritual are not ignored altogether, it is mocked or distorted for profit or sport.
Are We Supposed To Kiss The Media's Ring?
In those instances where the media deals with spiritual and religious themes we are supposed to kneel in thanks and kiss the creators' hands in gratitude for having something pertaining to God on the tube, screen, or in writing. We are told how difficult it is to actually get religious programs on the air or to push spiritual agendas in the media industry. If the creator purports to be Catholic or Christian, we are supposed to give them a pass because they are crusaders among infidels. We are not allowed to criticize or comment negatively on the media's efforts in the areas of faith, religion, and God because to do so would obviously demonstrate ignorance of the hardships and Herculean efforts needed to put the Creator on the screen in some form. Again, our standards have fallen so low that we are not unlike beggars scraping for food off an opulent table. What beggar would be critical of the morsels, which fall off such a feast?
I realize that it may be commendable at some level for media types to even care or attempt to push religious and spiritual themes on the screen, and I am aware of the hardships that must be faced by those seeking this difficult road. However, I do not therefore take the position that we must prostrate ourselves in gratitude to the point of accepting any representation of God, of faith, and of the divine under the notion that something is better than nothing! I guess that I should be grateful that Bruce Almighty mentions God at all despite the fact that the hero of the movie uses his God given powers to lift skirts! No Jim Carrey is not your ideal poster boy for virtue. Maybe I should overlook the fact that the hero in Joan of Arcadia lusts after a "bad boy" between connections with God posing as the next busboy or bus passenger! But then what better way to 'humanize' God and elevate us to god-like status? Sound familiar?
Our Society's Pathetic Bottom Line
All of the above examples of the media's treatment of God, religion, and faith point to one tragic fact. The ultimate value or lack thereof of a media product is its popularity and profit, and this is no different when that product is used to sell spiritual or religious themes. When the creator of Joan admits that she must make God "palatable" and less boring while not "offending" anyone, when she makes sure to keep the title character's contact with God secret lest someone think she is insane, and when the show's growing popularity is used to justify its ultimate value, we have fallen into the pathetic bottom line of this society.
Perhaps Joan and other shows like it may inspire young people to reconnect with religion, with faith, and with God at some level, but what does it say about the state of our faith when we rely on television shows full of New Age notions to rediscover the Creator? Have we sunk so low that even mentioning God in a society so determined to blot Him out is something we must celebrate?
Just because a movie, television show, or book is popular or created by a "Catholic" does not mean that it will lead lost souls to God or to recapture their true faith. It is just this pathetic, tragic kind of deception coupled with society's devastating ignorance that reminds one of a wolf leading sheep to slaughter. Our standards have sunk so low that getting any mention of God or catching the attention of a few confused or wandering teens seems to be the litmus test for a movie or program's value. How pathetic and tragic are the standards of our spiritual media and its confused audience sheep!
Then, when we finally get a quality piece of art by an established star who is accepted by the establishment and is in Hollywood but not of Hollywood, the claws of prejudice come out. I doubt even saints undergoing the stringent Devil's Advocate investigation went through the kind of scrutiny Mel Gibson has had to face. But he has not compromised. He has not been afraid of offending someone's sensibilities if they offend God's. From those who know him it is said Mel is one of the nicest stars you could ever meet. That in itself is amazing. Like the creator of Joan, Mel is Catholic. Unlike her however, Mel won't compromise. You see he is a Traditional Catholic. That seems to be a laudable trait with those who are committed to their beliefs. No matter what barbs and invectives they have hurled at this noble true evangelist
of our day, he won't be intimidated.
We can all learn from his perseverance. There is an alternative to the fare the modern wolves in sheep's clothing feed us. So instead of getting fat on the carbohydrates of hype, let us leave the couch potatoes to their idols and get down on our knees in thanksgiving for the likes and character of a Mel Gibson today. In endeavoring to bring more sheep back to the Good Shepherd through his inspired depiction of the Gospel, Mel is a rare and true shepherd in a sea of wolves. All we can do is pray there will be more to follow in his footsteps of excellence and truth.