TV

David Gushee 11-07-2016

Image via RNS/Reuters/Kevin Kolczynski

People need to believe in something, or someone, or Someone.

This human need to believe is a very powerful force. It can overcome a great deal of countervailing evidence. One place this is obvious is in politics.

Da'Shawn Mosley 09-08-2016

Ultimately, as audience members, we have the power to control what we see. TV execs need our eyes watching the programming they select, and if we say we want diversity — if we purposefully watch more shows that are inclusive and that introduce us to narratives and cultures that are simultaneously new to us and reminiscent of our own lives — we can change the television landscape. We can change what we see and thus make sure that everyone is seen. 

Julie Polter 03-28-2016
Morgan Freeman

Morgan Freeman

FEELING STRESSED BY CURRENT EVENTS, weary of ugly public discourse and the contentious sniping among even those who claim the same political party or faith? Maybe what you need is context—a look at the sweep of history and the enduring mysteries of existence. It’d be nice if there were a guide. Perhaps someone with a rich, velvety voice and calm presence to accompany you to far-off places and times—even better, to take you there on a private jet—and to not only ask deep questions but arrange for experts to posit answers.

You may be in luck: The Story of God is a six-part documentary series scheduled to air weekly on the National Geographic cable channel beginning on April 3. Actor, producer, and Story host Morgan Freeman travels the globe to glimpse how some religions (and a bit of modern neuroscience) attempt to answer our big human questions. Is there life after death? How was the universe created? Will the world end, and how? Who is God? What is the root of evil and how has our idea of it changed over time? Are miracles real?

(Let’s just get this out of the way now: Yes, Freeman has played God in two feature films, Bruce Almighty and its sequel Evan Almighty. No, he is not reprising the role in The Story of God.)

Given the enormity of the task Freeman and the other producers set for themselves—wrestling with theological conundrums, including some perspective from ancient beliefs and each of the five major world religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism), shooting in 13 countries, and whittling all that footage down to six hours total for airing—they did admirable work. It’s impossible to go deep or broad into a religion within those kinds of constraints, but the threads of history and theology presented, and the experts presenting them, are interesting and legitimate. There are bits of melodrama in the framing of Freeman’s quest and in some of the dramatizations of historic events, but this is edutainment TV, not a graduate school seminar.

Aysha Khan 02-18-2016

David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson in the “Babylon” episode of The X-Files. Image via Ed Araquel/Fox/RNS

“In this universe, the world’s vastly diverse population of Muslims is reduced to a monolithic symbol,” Ismat Sarah Mangla wrote in the International Business Times.

Danny Duncan Collum 10-07-2014

Jesus appears on Adult Swim, as he did in Palestine, in a manner both obscure and mysterious.

neneo/Shutterstock

neneo/Shutterstock

Listen in as Jim Wallis and Sojourners CEO Rob Wilson-Black kick off the new year with a discussion on Pope Francis and the new Pope's influential presence in all kinds of media.

Juliet Vedral 01-10-2014
Courtesy 20th Century Fox

Gob Bluth. Courtesy 20th Century Fox

Author’s note: If you know me, you’d know that that I think the most important thing (of the things we worship ) is Jesus. And you’d also know that I love Arrested Development, with almost the same type of devotion I typically reserve for God. As a former “professional  church lady,” crafting prayers was right in my wheelhouse. So I’ve composed a psalm entirely out of Arrested Development quotes based on the ACTS style of prayer, because it is right, and a good and joyful thing, always and everywhere to give thanks to God. And also … not Aunt Lindsay’s nose.

Oh God. (AD 2:13)

I love you. (AD 1:7)

We all must seek forgiveness. I’ve always tried to lead a clean life. My brother and I were like those Biblical brothers, Gallant and, um … Goofuth. (AD 2:14)

the Web Editors 09-27-2013

Last night, Jim Wallis appeared on "The Ed Show" to discuss why it's imperative to avoid cutting social programs like food stamps that feed millions of poor and hungry in our country. Those pastors who disagree, he says, usually don't know the faces of those directly affected by such cuts. You can watch the segment Jim appeared on here:

 

Liz Schmitt 08-21-2013

I love Netflix. I love that from the comfort of my couch, I can watch almost an endless selection of movies and TV shows. I’m re-watching all of The West Wing right now, along with most of Washington and probably much of the country. My friend Kat told me recently that she and her fiancé are watching it for the fifth time on Netflix, despite it sitting in a deluxe DVD set above their TV. Why get up to switch DVDs when your streaming player automatically starts the next episode for you?

So I wasn’t too happy when I read that my Netflix habit is seriously energy intensive. In a new article on Salon.com, I learned that watching Netflix streaming for an hour a week uses more energy each year than two new refrigerators. In my household we definitely watch a lot more than an hour a week.

Mark I. Pinsky 06-13-2013
Photo courtesy RNS.

Anne Heche plays Beth Harper, a woman who can talk to and receive messages from God, in NBC’s 'Save Me'. Photo courtesy RNS.

Mixing religion and entertainment, as NBC has tried to do with its new prime time TV sitcom Save Me, starring Anne Heche, can be a tricky business.

Sometimes the combination works spectacularly, marrying a religious base with a significant crossover audience. When the chemistry is right, shows built around faith and divine intervention land in the ratings Top Ten year after year, and earn numerous Emmys.

CBS had mainstream hits with Highway to Heaven in the 1980s and Touched by an Angel in the late 1990s. The WB/CW’s 7th Heaven ran for a decade.

Gareth Higgins 06-05-2013

From the History Channel's "The Bible"

The History Channel's The Bible, like so much of so-callled "religious pop culture," seemed to be the product of good people trying to do a good thing, but at best putting the desire to convey a particular message ahead of making the best artwork for the medium.

Megan O'Neil 04-09-2013
Gregory Dean,  BortN66 / Shutterstock

Eric Andrews is reinvigorating Paulist Productions. Gregory Dean, BortN66 / Shutterstock

LOS ANGELES — No sooner had Eric Andrews arrived on the set of The Lost Valentine, a 2011 Hallmark Channel movie starring Jennifer Love Hewitt and Betty White, when his neckwear attracted attention.

“People are looking at me, and trying to figure out who I was,” he said. “One of the actors came up and said, ‘Now, are you an extra for the wedding scene that is being shot?’”

But the Roman collar was no prop.

Andrews’ credentials as an ordained Roman Catholic priest and Hollywood producer make him a rarity in both religious and entertainment circles. The 48-year-old describes himself as too liberal for most priests and too conservative for most agents.

Tom Ehrich 10-10-2012
file404 / Shutterstock

Conceptual abstract background: Communication. file404 / Shutterstock

Why, exactly, does it matter if President Barack Obama gave a lackluster performance in the recent presidential debate?

These quadrennial campaign sideshows have nothing to do with one's capability, preparation, aptitude or suitability for the presidency.

Why does Gov. Mitt Romney's spirited performance matter? What does a “victory” by one candidate mean, other than momentary bragging rights?

Surely we know that these debates are about as meaningful as an Oscar winner's thank-you speech. What we want from a president is a steady hand in dealing with a wicked and wayward world, a collaborative spirit in bringing a broad reach to government, and a magnanimous spirit in consoling war widows, helping victims of disaster, protecting the weak from the relentless predations of the strong, and trying to preserve an “American Dream” to which all, not just a few, are invited. We want signs of character, not a telegenic mien.

Presidential debates are like first visits to possible in-laws. You hope not to belch at supper — and then you return to the world where you are actually exploring marriage and building a life.

Elizabeth Palmberg 06-01-2012

Watching TV is bad for kids' self-esteem, except if they're white boys. (Seems likely that too much TV is bad for everyone's esteem for their fellow humans, made in the image of God ...)

"A new study suggests exposure to today’s electronic media often reduces a child’s self-worth.

Indiana University researchers say this is the case if you are a white girl, a black girl or a black boy.

However, researchers believe the media exposure can help the self-confidence of white boys.

... In the study, the researchers surveyed a group of about 400 black and white preadolescent students in communities in the Midwest over a yearlong period."

Read more here.

the Web Editors 01-08-2012

In this segment from his new CatholicTV series "Blinks," the Rev. Jim Martin (aka our favorite Jesuit) considers why Christianity is often considered so joyless, and why "religious" usually means serious.

Watch inside...

Danny Duncan Collum 07-01-1987

1984 is three years past, and the Brave New World is just 20 minutes into the future. That's where the computer-run and video-tranced world of ABC-TV's "Max Headroom" is located.

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