August 29, 2006

Nuns in Hollywood

New York Times
August 29, 2006

Video: Battling Evils of Hollywood With Prayer

In the second installment of his American Album series, Charlie LeDuff visits a convent located just two blocks away from Hollywood Boulevard.

April 14, 2006

The award-winning film "Cinque Minuti" makes Jesus' sacrificial love crystal clear

On this day, Good Friday, we remember our Lord's passion and crucifixion, that He gave His life for us, as a sacrificial Lamb. He gave His life for us out of His deep love for us, even while we were DEAD in sin. As the gospel of John so eloquently says: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16 [RSV]).

From Sabaoth Films comes this excellent Christian film, "5 Minutes," produced to very high standards by Deborah E. Brown and winner of the 168 Hour Film Project. The film won 2006 Awards in several categories--Best Film, Best International Film, Best Scriptural Integration-Writer, and Best Screenplay-Writer.

Along with its high production standards, the writing and the integration of scripture into the film are brilliant. The screenwriter, Sergio Masqueroni, is obviously well versed in Christian apologetics and is a masterful writer. Much of the force and emotional impact of this media message for the gospel is due to its poignant screenplay. Kudos to Mr. Masqueroni.

In Italian the film's title is "Cinque Minuti" and it can be watched online in Italian with English subtitles. In this film the immediacy and personal nature of Jesus' self-sacrificial love, expressed for each one of us, is made abundantly clear.

God's blessings to you all on this Good Friday.

Today's post can also be viewed on the Pope Benedict XVI Blog.

March 03, 2006

As to making Christian films, we can learn much from nonbelievers


Most films that successfully incorporate Christian themes are made by non-Christians. Thom Parham explains why in this essay from the new book, 'Behind the Screen: Hollywood Insiders on Faith, Film, and Culture.'

By Thom Parham

[Editor's Note: To read GodSpy's interview with Barbara Nicolosi, co-editor of Behind the Screen, click here.]

Places in the Heart is a film about Edna Spalding (Sally Field), a young woman who tries to save her farm from foreclosure after her husband dies. During the course of the film, Edna assembles a surrogate family around her, consisting of Moze, a black sharecropper (Danny Glover); Mr. Will, a blind boarder (John Malkovich); and her precocious children, Frank and Possum (Yankon Hatten and Gennie James). Near the end of the movie, the Klu Klux Klan runs Moze out of town. In the final scene, the townspeople gather at church, where a stirring rendition of "Blessed Assurance" is followed by a reading of 1 Corinthians 13:1-8:

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels and have not love, I am become as a sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy and all knowledge but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor and have not love, it profit me nothing. Love is patient, kind. Love is not jealous or boastful. Love never ends.

The choir then sings "I Come to the Garden Alone" as the communion elements are passed. Philandering husband (Ed Harris) is the first to partake, followed by his forgiving wife (Lindsay Crouse) and their daughter. The camera pans across various congregants, including an evil banker (Lane Smith) who tried to foreclose on Edna's farm, and band members from a previous night's shindig. Then, oddly, the camera continues to pan, revealing a couple who died trying to escape from a tornado, some of the Klansmen, and Moze. Panning past Mr. Will, Possum, Frank, and Edna, the camera finally rests on Edna's late husband, Royce (Ray Baker), and Wylie (DeVoreaux White), the black youth who accidentally shot him and was in turn lynched.

At this point, we realize there's much more going on in Places in the Heart than what's on the surface. The film is a metaphor for the kingdom of God, and the final scene tells us that God's grace is available to all who accept it—white or black, young or old, good or evil, living or dead.

Secular filmmakers tend to observe life more objectively than Christians. They see the world the way it really is, warts and all.
Writer/director Robert Benton is not an evangelical Christian. Yet, his film incorporates "Christian themes" with more subtlety, artistry, and depth than the majority of films being made by professed Christians. It is not the only one. In fact, most films that successfully incorporate religious themes are made by nonreligious people.

Here are some of the better films with Christian messages or themes from the past few decades:

Chariots of Fire (1981)
Tender Mercies (1983)
Places in the Heart (1984)
Hoosiers (1986)
The Mission (1986)
Grand Canyon (1992)
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Dead Man Walking (1996)
The Apostle (1998)
The Prince of Egypt (1998)
The Iron Giant (1999)
Magnolia (2000)
Signs (2002)
Jonah: A Veggie Tales Movie (2002)
About Schmidt (2002)
Changing Lanes (2002)
In America (2002)
Bruce Almighty (2003)
The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-2003)
The Passion of the Christ (2004)

All of these films were critically acclaimed and/or box office hits. But with the exception of Jonah, Bruce Almighty, and The Passion, none were made by Christian filmmakers. Christians, however, did make these films:

Gospa (1995)
Entertaining Angels (1996)
The Omega Code (1999)
The Joyriders (1999)
Left Behind.. The Movie (2000)
Carman: The Champion (2001)
Megiddo: The Omega Code 2 (2001)
Mercy Streets (2001)
To End All Wars (2001)
Hometown Legend (2002)
Joshua (2002)
Left Behind II:' Tribulation Force (2002)
Luther (2003)
Finding Home (2003)
Therese (2004)

'If you want to send a message, try Western Union,' said Frank Capra, a Christian who made hugely popular mainstream films.
Overall, these films are unwatchable. There are only a handful of good scenes among them. None had success with critics or at the box office. (What does it say about Christian filmmakers that one of their best-received movies features computer-generated vegetables who sing and dance?)

If Christians want to make successful films that incorporate their worldview, why not learn from those who are already doing it-non-Christians. So let's ask: why are the best Christian films being made by secular filmmakers?

December 09, 2005

Christian organizations call Comedy Central to pull Denis Leary's anti-Christmas TV Special

Dennis Leary TV Special Lacks Laughs, Exemplifies Media's Blatant Anti-Christian Bias

National Pro-Life Action Center joins Catholic League Call for Comedy Central to Pull Future Airings of Malicious Performance

To: National Desk

Contact: Joe Giganti, 703-928-9695,

WASHINGTON, Dec. 9 /Christian Wire Service/ -- The National Pro-Life Action Center (NPLAC)--the uncompromising voice of pro-life America on Capitol Hill--is outraged by Comedy Central's airing of and planned repeat showings of the patently offensive, Dennis Leary's "Merry F#%$in' Christmas." "With the airing of this so-called comedy show, another front has been opened on the war against the Christian faith and its holy observances," said Paul Chaim Schenck, director of NPLAC.

Among the more offensive comments in Leary's show is when he offers that the Christmas holiday is built on ". . . a bunch of bullsh**t," because he believes the real reason the Virgin Mary became pregnant with Jesus was because someone ". . . banged the hell out of his mom."

Catholic League
November 29, 2005


Tonight, Comedy Central will air a special by Denis Leary, “Merry F#%$in’ Christmas” (it first aired two nights ago and is scheduled to air again on Dec. 17). The show consists of several skits, a cartoon and musical performances.

There is a skit about lesbian nuns, and a song by “Our Lady of Perpetual Suffering Church Choir” about a hooker. But by far the most offensive part of the show is the monologue by Denis Leary on the origins of Christmas. Here is part of what he says:

“Merry Christmas. Tonight we celebrate the birth of the baby Jesus, whose mom, Mary, just happens to be a virgin—even after she apparently gave birth to Jesus. At least that is what the Catholic Church would have you believe.

December 08, 2005

Mel Gibson to tackle mini-series on Holocaust
Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2005 9:30 p.m. EST

Mel Gibson Plans TV Miniseries on Holocaust

You can say this about Mel Gibson: He isn't afraid to tackle sensitive topics.

The actor, who defied the odds with the blockbuster success of his film "The Passion of the Christ," is turning his attention to the Holocaust.

According to the New York Times, Gibson's television production company is developing a four-hour nonfiction miniseries for ABC based on the life of Flory A. Van Beek, a Dutch Jew whose gentile neighbors hid her from the Nazis but who lost several relatives in concentration camps.

Mel Gibson planning Holocaust miniseries

Thursday, December 8, 2005; Posted: 9:48 a.m. EST (14:48 GMT)

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- Mel Gibson is stirring passions again with his latest project -- a nonfiction TV movie set against the backdrop of the Holocaust.

Gibson's Con Artist Productions is developing "Flory" for ABC, based on the true story of a Dutch Jew named Flory Van Beek and her non-Jewish boyfriend who sheltered her from the Nazis, The New York Times and Variety reported in Wednesday editions.

Gibson plans Holocaust mini-series

By David M. Halbfinger
The New York Times


LOS ANGELES Mel Gibson, whose "The Passion of the Christ" was criticized by some as anti-Semitic - and whose father has said that the Holocaust did not happen - is developing a nonfiction mini-series about the Holocaust.

Gibson's television production company will base the four-hour miniseries for ABC on the self-published memoir of Flory Van Beek, a Dutch Jew whose gentile neighbors hid her from the Nazis but who lost several relatives in the concentration camps.

The project is in its early stages, so there is no guarantee that it will be completed. Gibson is not expected to act in the mini-series, nor is it certain that his name, rather than his company's, will be publicly attached to the final product, according to several people involved in developing it. But Quinn Taylor, ABC's senior vice president for movies for television, acknowledged that the attention-getting value of having Gibson attached to a Holocaust project was a factor.

"Controversy's publicity, and vice versa," Taylor said.

Gibson's father, Hutton Gibson, has repeatedly denied that the Holocaust happened. Before the release of "The Passion of the Christ," Hutton Gibson said that accounts of the Holocaust were mostly "fiction" and asserted that there were more Jews in Europe after World War II than before.

December 05, 2005

Swamp the ACLU, the Grinch who stole Christmas, with "Merry Christmas" cards

With the ACLU acting like the Grinch who stole Christmas, WMCA radio host Kevin McCullough's Christmas card campaign intends to take back Christmas from these Scrooges by burying them in an avalanche of Christmas cards that express our joy at Jesus' birth.

Let's marshall our forces and overwhelm the ACLU with the love of Christ, by:

Tracking the events of the coalition at
McCullough's MuscleHead Revolution blog page;

Following details of the campaign as well at
McCullough's WorldNetDaily syndicated column; and,

Sending out those "Merry Christmas" cards!

See also my other posts:

"Help disarm the ACLU with Christ's love; send "Merry Christmas" cards to its national office," in the "Pope Benedict XVI Blog," my blog on the Pope and the Vatican.

"Merry Christmas, ACLU"; join WMCA radio host Kevin McCullough's Christmas card campaign," in "Come with me to Golgotha...," my blog on prayer and the inner life.

December 04, 2005

CBS miniseries on Pope John Paul II starts tonight 9 p.m. EST

Miniseries on John Paul II starts tonight

Dec 4, 2005

More, in the case of CBS' "Pope John Paul II," isn't necessarily better.

The miniseries, which airs tonight and Wednesday, is the second TV drama about the late pope to air within four days. The second to trace his days from aspiring young actor to religious leader. The second to emphasize his world view and Polish heart.

ABC's "Have No Fear: The Life of Pope John Paul II" has the longer title but half the length. It aired Thursday, scheduled after CBS announced the airdates for its miniseries.

Dueling TV productions are unusual but not unheard of.