Jay Leno was just on too early

Jay Leno Cancelled, Conan Comtemplating Split | TheHDRoom.  NBC’s plan to save money on scripted shows by moving Leno to prime-time didn’t work.  Now the network wants to move him back to late night, to the consternation of Conan O’Brien–who, as Leno’s replacement on the  Tonight Show,is also having ratings woes–and Jimmy Falloon, who is on even later.

This doesn’t surprise me.  Leno is very funny, but you have to be up late past your bedtime his humor to have its full effect.  The same holds true for the other late night comedians, some of whom need to be on really, really  late before they can even seem mildly amusing.  When you are well-rested and in your right mind, they tend to  fall flat.

What do you think should happen?  Conan is considering stomping off and going to FOX.   If they were all on at the same time, would you rather watch Leno, O’Brien, or Letterman?

Brit Hume evangelizes Tiger Wood

On Fox News Sunday, Brit Hume had a message for Tiger Woods:

Whether he can recover as a person depends on "his faith. He's said to be a Buddhist. I don't think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redeption that is offered by the Christian faith. So my message to Tiger would be, "Tiger, turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world."

Hume, of course, is getting criticized, not only for evangelizing on air but for dissing Buddhism. Still, I salute him. A private TV network airing private opinions should have room for this, isn’t it?

Oral Roberts, mainline Protestant

The blog GetReligion, which critiques media coverage of religion, points out that most obituaries of Oral Roberts are missing the point. First, as Mollie Hemingway points out, he was NOT the patriarch of the prosperity gospel. Journalists are confusing him with fellow-Tulsan Kenneth Hagin. In fact, Roberts was associated with critics of that movement. Also, Roberts, despite his roots in backwoods Pentecostalism, was a member of the mainline United Methodist Church. His main significance, argues Terry Mattingly, is that he represents the way Pentecostalism found its way into mainline denominations and morphed into the charismatic movement.

I myself prefer him in his old days as a TV faith healer, which, whatever its validity, was spellbinding television. Later, after he founded Oral Roberts University and broadcast from his prayer tower, his show became slick and insufferable, but those black and white broadcasts of the sweaty, shouting preacher was great TV. And if you read Flannery O’Connor–say, “The Violent Bear It Away”–you would appreciate it, even if you didn’t believe it.

Oral Roberts dies

Oral Roberts Dies At Age 91. I grew up in Oklahoma, about an hour from Tulsa, and I remember as a child watching his healing services on TV, things like this:

Even then I was both weirded out and fascinated. Still am, though in a Flannery O’Connor kind of way. What are we to make of this?

Here is what I think: First, the little boy showed no expression of surprise or wonder or joy at being able to walk again, which makes me skeptical of the miracle. But the people watching DID. I think for Christians who have no sacraments, something has to rush in, some kind of alternative intersection of the supernatural into the natural. Miracles, divine interventions, mystical experiences, God speaking directly, etc. They are pale substitutes, though, for the true incursion of supernatural power into the world, namely, the Word and Sacraments.

Mark Hemingway on “30 Rock”

Did you watch “30 Rock” the other day and hear a cryptic reference to someone you faintly recall hearing of recently? Well, remember how I mentioned Lutheran journalist and conservative pundit Mark Hemingway the other day? Well, he’s made it to the big time: having his name taken in vain on a sit-com and becoming a pop culture reference.

Now the political insider site Politico is talking about this. It’s a genuinely funny line, and Mark is both taking it in good humor and reveling in the attention.

What else do “30 Rock,” “Politico,” and the Cranach blog have in common?

Evangelism without the gospel

Have you seen the “Receive Jesus” ad on national television? (I can’t find it on the web. If any of you can find it, please post a link.) It has a rather cool-looking guy with a goatee and a black t-shirt against a white background. He says how life is hard. But that Jesus can make an amazing difference in your life. He tells viewers, wherever they are, to “receive Jesus.” It’s rather well-done, better than my description makes it sound.

But the ad nowhere includes the Gospel! He doesn’t say anything about sin or forgiveness or who Jesus is or what He accomplished for us on the Cross.

This is not uncommon, trying to be evangelistic while leaving out the evangel. Just telling someone to “receive Jesus” and encouraging a rote prayer to that effect without proclaiming the Gospel doesn’t make anyone a Christian, does it? I’m sure the makers of this ad do believe that Jesus died for sinners and that His death and resurrection grants forgiveness. So why did they go to all of the expense of this ad without saying that?

I’m all for using the media like this for evangelism and salute the effort, but the Gospel of Christ crucified for sinners surely has to be in the message, doesn’t it?