Thursday, April 22, 2010

Bad Entertainment

In an interview of Barbara Nicolosi, a Catholic screenwriter and professor, she says:
But in the end, which is more harmful: true words cast in an ugly frame, or untrue words cast in a beautiful frame? I think Hollywood will get people into heaven faster. Even if they have the message wrong, people in the end will turn off some of that. What will really impact them will be the harmony, the wholeness, the completeness of a work.

So for example, a show like Friends, which might make light of pornography, is ultimately not as dangerous because it's very well-produced, well-acted, well-written. It's funny. It works as a whole. Whereas you can have a minister in front of a Bible on CBN with a bad toupee, lit garishly, and saying lovely things, but the message is that Christianity is uncreative, banal, boring, undynamic, and irrelevant.

I’m just going to say it. Barbara Nicolosi drives me nuts. She always goes overboard in her defense of art, and often completely ignores the dangers of a work if it has some small redeeming value AND artistic merit.

I understand and agree with her major point: In order to evangelize, we need better art (movies, music, TV, etc.). As someone trained in graphic design, I complain about bad art too. But she always weights style over substance. There is a point to be made that there is a degree of substance to style itself, as beauty is a reflection of God. But there is something horribly wrong with thinking that appearances equal underlying truth.

Our greatest example might be the Crucifix. What is uglier than the murder of an innocent man, or worse, the brutal torture of God himself? The secular world often mocks this ugliness: the blood, the nails, our strange love for an instrument of death. I’ve heard atheists mockingly state, “I pray in front of an electric chair.” But to a Christian, the cross is beautiful. It is hope, it is love, it is our faith.

She sounds to me sort of like she’s saying, “Better a pretty whore, than a homely nun. Our nuns need to be way more attractive or else they’re doing more harm than good.” Yeah, I think that idea came out of the Sermon on the Mount, right?

Let’s also look at some Catholic magazines, like Family Foundations, First Things, or early issues of This Rock. Now that’s some unattractive graphic design, and in the case of Family Foundations, some repetitive and poorly written articles. We should boycott these travesties of art, and buy Playboy, which is renowned for its good writing and photography. We will certainly find more beauty there, and thus more of God, right?

Well, I’m done mocking. I understand that this isn’t the exact point of her statements. I know that Christian TV and movies are pretty bad, and don’t watch much of them (though I like some Christian music). I suppose her words are directed more at we believers, saying that we can do more by improving our art than we can do by attacking Hollywood’s art. But this is not how she comes across. She comes across as someone who would say, “Joseph Ratzinger’s writings do more damage than those of Ayn Rand, because Rand’s writings are widely recognized as being well produced, well written, and captivating.”

Oh, I should also note that if you read the whole article, most of it is far more reasonable than this quote.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Another One

Adding to my list of people who believe the media is treating the Catholic Church unfairly in the abuse issue, is Ed Koch, former mayor of New York City. A Jew who believes the Catholic Church is wrong on just about everything liberals tend to think it is wrong about (abortion, contraception, homosexuality, etc.), Koch still states, "I believe the continuing attacks by the media on the Roman Catholic Church and Pope Benedict XVI have become manifestations of anti-Catholicism. The procession of articles on the same events are, in my opinion, no longer intended to inform, but simply to castigate." See the full blog here.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Posts on the Scandal

Although it is not my preferred area of discussion, the sexual abuse scandal keeps coming up, so I'll address it here by referring you to better writers! It's better you read some of these posts than anything I have to say, so I'll keep it short:

I'll start you where I started today, with Jennifer Fulwiler's Conversion Diary blog. As always, she's a wonderful writer, who provides lots of links to back up her points. For a bit of background, Jennifer was raised an atheist. She first began looking into Protestant Christianity, and eventually decided that the truth was found in its fullest in the Catholic Church. I highly recommend her blog.

In a trail from there I came across an article providing statistics comparing abuse by priests to family members, ministers, psychologists, and teachers. The statistics show that even at their worst, the priests were the safest group (completely demolishing the "caused by celibacy" argument).

Then there's a bit of comedy relief, as the Associated Press, desperate for news, reports on the man who shot John Paul II saying he wants Pope Benedict to "resign over the Catholic Church's handling of clerical sex abuse cases." Now there's someone the Catholic Church can look to for guidance. To his credit he does say he doesn't want the Pope arrested.

And finally, an interesting piece by an atheist humanist, who certainly doesn't favor Catholic teachings, but sounds just as opposed to the media bias and public hysteria against the Catholic Church as I am. This is useful, both as another perspective, and as a confirmation that we aren't imagining the media bias. His primary concerns in the article are the dangers of the anti-free speech stance of "new atheists," and the "culture of victimhood." [note that I have not read, and cannot recommend any other articles on this humanist website]