Art, Propaganda and Evil's Easy Way – UPDATE

At 50th Annual Academy Awards bash of 1977, Vanessa Redgrave thanked the Academy for giving her an Oscar (for “Julia“) despite “the threats of of a small bunch of Zionist hoodlums.”

The respected screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky wasted no time in responding to Redgrave’s provocation: “I am sick and tired of people exploiting the Academy Awards for the propagation of their own personal propaganda,” he said, memorably.

Chayefsky was speaking to the wind. Why wouldn’t the people who lived and worked in Hollywood use any public occasion to spout their ideologies? The propagation of a point of view is part of art’s attraction, in any medium. Paddy Chayefsky, of all people, would know this, as his brilliant satirical screenplay, Network was a pointed (and prophetic) look at the inevitable devolution of tv-news into ratings-obsessed infotainment, and a critique of the combined mindsets of ambition, greed and madness that would speed the decay. Hollywood has always had a point of view and — particularly since the social revolutions of the 1960′s — movies and television have enormously impacted social trends and opinions. As I wrote in The Art of the Painless Coup, even can be made to go down easy:

“. . .all the while they have been busily pulling things apart, they have kept the rest of the family distracted with the television, with the radio, with the cinema – any or all of which have instantly been called into service whenever someone got a little bored and looked around, wondering what these kids were up to. “Abortion?” says Aunt Sally, “Abortion is a terrible thing!” Suddenly every news story is about the grim circumstance of illegal abortion. Suddenly sitcoms are showing the way. “Well, if Maude had an abortion…maybe sometimes it’s a good thing…”

“Free love,” sputters Uncle Jim, “it’s immoral! It’s damaging to the family!” Suddenly every film hero or heroine is having free, uncomplicated, un-damaging sex, and flashing some gratuitous T and A at Uncle Jim in the process. “I dunno,” he smiles to Aunt Sally as he settles back, “maybe it’s not all that bad…”

Film and TV have enormously influenced social thinking, but in a weirdly inconsistent way; the same media that held up long-standing prejudices to scrutiny and ridicule with All in the Family is the one that also reinforces prejudicial ideas about black and Latino households. The same industry that promotes diversity in the workplace discriminates among its own, and for the most part, this is both acknowledged and unremarked upon. The same media that quite rightly extols the virtue of reading and decries the sexual exploitation of women and children also grows rich promoting the voyeuristic viewing (and sheep-like emulation) of vapid young sleep-arounds like the Jersey Shore-ites. Guess what gets emulated in the populace? Hint: it’s not reading.

Considering all that, it’s not surprising that Catholic screenwriter Barbara Nicolosi is losing patience with Christians who consider it a badge of honor when they tell her they “never” engage the popular culture by watching television or going to movies. To Nicolosi, engagement with the popular culture is quickly becoming a true matter of life or death:

I cannot count the number of Christians who have come to me almost bragging that they never watch movies or television, that YouTube and Facebook are to be spurned, and that they haven’t gone to a play or concert in years.

“Great,” I always think. “Let’s leave the masses to the whims of people who scorn our God and His gospel. Let’s pretend that our kids won’t eventually be drowned in the waves of their age. Let’s see how that works out.”

It is yet another paradoxical inconsistency of Hollywood that it is the place where art — which originates within humanity via the author of human life and possibilities — so willingly serves the Culture of Death and Nothingness. Nicolosi is particularly concerned about the way film and television have been quietly promoting euthanasia within our collective subconscious:

How many parents realized, when you sent your teenagers to James Cameron’s latest 3D extravaganza Sanctum (2011), that there was a matter-of-fact mercy killing of four characters at the end? How many Christians are even aware of the pro-euthanasia messages in critically acclaimed films like Pedro Almodovar’s Oscar-nominated Talk to Me, and the Oscar-winning best picture films Million Dollar Baby and The English Patient? Most strident was the highly lauded Spanish film The Sea Inside, in which, shortly before he is euthanized by a group of loving friends, the paraplegic hero played by handsome star Javier Bardem, proclaims, “I’m just a head stuck to a body.”

The evidence is undeniable: Somewhere in the middle of the Terri Schiavo tragedy, Hollywood and the cultural left climbed aboard the latest human-killing bandwagon and have since thrown the weight of their talent and creativity behind it. As with abortion, the forces of darkness are outmaneuvering the forces of good on what will certainly be the moral issue of the 21st century.

If we lose the fight on euthanasia, we lose our souls. By removing suffering and the meaning of suffering from our culture, we make the final step in denying and defying our creature-hood. Once again, the seductive lie of Eden will trip us up: “If you will do this thing, you shall be like God.”

The fact that Nicolosi’s article went live on the same day Dr. Jack Kevorkian, perhaps the most “celebrated” promoter of euthanasia (or the euphemistic “assisted suicide”) of the last forty years died a natural death seems like one of those wonderfully ironic synchronicities that make you wonder about Providence.

This week, too, saw the much-anticipated release of Ben Shapiro’s Primetime Propaganda:

As Ben documents in exquisite detail, the conservative blacklist operates both directly and indirectly. In some cases, television industry bigwigs simply refuse to hire conservatives because they hate conservatives – the late Bruce Paltrow comes off here as a particularly obnoxious jerk, which goes a long way toward explaining his half-wit daughter Gwyneth. But much of the reason is simply affinity. As Ben documents, the industry has always been a very small community of like-minded individuals who dwell not only within the physical confines of the same LA/NYC world but, equally importantly, share the same world view. If you are not one of them inside the bubble, they will never see you to hire you.

Sounds like an interesting book.

And an interesting trifecta, if you think about it: Kevorkian dies; Shapiro’s book exposes; Nicolosi champions engagement. The battle is visible and invisible, and this week it seems to be stepping up!

UPDATE: Instapundit has more on the fallout from Shapiro’s book

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Mandy P.

    Look, I don’t necessarily disagree that we should try to engage the culture more, but I honestly don’t even know how to begin doing that. I’m right at the point where I think the general population is so far gone that there’s not much we CAN do aside from stay out of as much of it as possible.

    Case in point: I am related to a whole lot of people who would even claim to be Christians that don’t see anything wrong with today’s entertainment. If I had a nickel for the number of times I’ve heard the antics of Lady Gaga compared to Elvis’ hip shake I’d be a gazillionaire. And even those that do have a problem with it in principle do not stand against it in practice.

    Our whole society is so inundated with relativism and inference from one’s feelings that it is nigh impossible to have a logical conversation about most of these issues. How do you argue with feelings? How do you reason someone out of a position that one wasn’t reasoned into in the first place?

  • Mandy P.

    Want to clarify that I don’t think we should hole ourselves away. I do think that we absolutely must conform ourselves to Jesus so much that we are shining examples to the world. I think that’s the only thing that can get through to people. All the action examples that Ms. Nicolosi gives will- I think- be seen as over the top. I doubt they would be very effective.

  • Momma Kyle

    Reading Barbara Nicolosi’s piece I wonder—when my older children were young Madona was the rage and we very much limited their tv.

    The Hollywood culture made Madona look so attractive that as parents we felt unable to counter the effects of her videos. Perhaps that was wrong…..but in later years, when Madona had her own children I read that she forbid her children to watch tv also.

    Like Mandy P above—I know we can’t hide, but as a young mother, my instinct was to do eveything I could to prevent my kids from seeing some of this nonsense.

    The irony that Hollywood hates Christians and does what it can to mock our beliefs makes me think that they should not get one dime from us.

  • Caroline

    Barbara Nicolosi’s message had a powerful impact on me. About 5 years ago, I heard her speak on this topic — on the need for storytellers with a Christian worldview to engage the culture. As it happened, I was looking to revisit my vocation as a writer after 15 years at home with children…had a story I wanted to tell — kind of an Eat Pray Love without ditching the husband and heading for the ashram. I’ve shopped the manuscript for a couple of years. It’s too Catholic for mainstream, not Catholic enough for Catholic presses…but I’ve had enough time to meditate on ignominious defeat to observe that there’s a hitch in Nicolosi’s argument, I think…the depiction of a contemporary character struggling to live her [traditional, orthodox] faith is such a sign of contradiction that mainstream pop-culture elites just can’t relate to it. When you look at an old movie (I’m a Turner Classic zombie) — almost any old movie — routinely you see families saying grace around a table, mothers reciting bedside prayers with children, rosaries recited for the dead…such simple devotions today seem “fanatical”, and would be consigned to a “Christian market.” So In a sense, I think we’re not seeing more good stories from a Christian worldview because that worldview is a scandal to our neo-pagan mindset, now predominant. You could get around it by setting your story in the past, where those references would make sense — but a story about a woman who chooses family and husband over “self actualization?” Today? It’s a hard sell, people.

  • Joe

    MAndy P. is dead on. As someone who received an MA in Communication from Regent University I read this piece with some ambivalence. Sure we want to try to be salt, but we also have to be realists, and shrewd in making choices that allow us to maintain our virtue. When the culture is filth, how do you stay clean handling it? As an example, Focus on the Family reviews all the raunchy artists, and admirably tells kids which songs are OK, and which are not. But the kids are still buying the albums and hearing everything. Desensitization takes place rapidly. Simply seeing previews in a theatre now exposes you to so much stuff that poses serious challenges for thought life that the whole exercise is problematic, but Nicolosi wants us all to swim knee deep in the crap. And let’s be frank, it is crap. A catholic critic tried to demonstrate how Lada Gag actually makes a good impact… LOL… just like Katie Perry. Cannot anyone connect the dots. Hollywood is not neutral turf. Evangelism there is like evangelism in a brothel. You can do it, but how many people want their kids or themselves to pose as whores?

    A few intrepid souls may be called to be missionaries to Hollywood, great. But in my observation, over half of the folks sent out by Regent, specifically, end up selling out in spectacular fashion: embracing gayness, embracing bohemianism, or random unbelief. But no matter, the school’s indefatigable PR arm still announces with pride every time some graduate gets a screenwriting job for Jersey Shore or American Idol. We are transforming culture, right?! As a Catholic, Nicolosi might recall the good intentions of Vatican II and the way the Church was subsequently ravaged. Reform is good, modernity is good, Hollywood is good, right? We have to love the world!!

    Well, yes, but…

    There is a large cadre of homosexual Christians who got their start and send offs in Evangelicalism. The will now tell you that its heart is good but its head wrong. The “Xmen” franchise is an example of their efforts, a happy Oprah-like tool to encourage people to accept the wrongly disenfranchised. That’s nice fresh air! At least in their minds. Unless the Hollywood strategy is closely watched and tightly prayed over, that is what you get. The good returns of Chrsitians out there… gosh, there aren’t that many, and their impact seems like a drop in a bucket. A glass of contaminated water in a tainted tank is still tainted water. When even Disney has sexualized their cartoons and included innuendo in their kids channel, how much more clue do you need that the situation is not simply Chrsitians being cranks?

    Really, I would love some good entertainment, but if the culture is so rotten, to act like we are being prudes or cowards is off base. We are being prudent. For our own souls and our kids. You are what you eat, what you watch, listen to, work with, etc. Hollywood seems very apparently toxic. And you want us all to go and to our exercises there? Visit, yes, set up shop, not a chance. Bad company corrupts good morals. The old truism is simple and true.

  • Joe

    ““Great,” I always think. “Let’s leave the masses to the whims of people who scorn our God and His gospel. Let’s pretend that our kids won’t eventually be drowned in the waves of their age. Let’s see how that works out.”

    People don’t brag about avoiding media in my experience. They lament it as a necessity. I’d love to take a swim, wish the water wasn’t so dangerous. She reminds me of the conservative version of an elite critic. Also I’d wager she has no teenagers. There are no waves out there, only raging currents. You don’t swim in them — you don’t go in the water. I’d love to know what current TV shows she recommends as truly worth watching and with content not highly problematic. Even 24, which I loved, had far too much gore to be argued as healthy.

    Likewise 20 minutes of trailers in any theatre featuring wild explosions, blood, profanity and sex. You cannot really choose *not* to see “The Hangover II,” since you *will* see it anyway in preview form when you opt for the nobler “Thor.”

    It’s all so obviously no good for you that only someone cultured into unawareness could possibly argue otherwise in vigorous fashion. Entertainment is an awful addiction to break free from. People doubly entwined by dreams, ambitions, and incomes… I hope they CAN do some good, but any vaunted arts advocacy right now is pretty brassy.

  • Lou

    Read the article and agree 100% BUT reading the comments and I see why we’ve lost the culture.

    Many of you have a defeated mindset. It seems the deeper issue is we have lost our salt and light. Because if we had both the culture would be in great shape.

    The corrupt media and culture is a symptom not the root of the problem.

    These comments show me the root. The Apostles and Early Church reflected their view of the Lord. Powerful and fully engaged in this world. Stop waiting for the rapture and allow the Lord to show Himself strong in this world.

    Please don’t quote me Scripture on how bad the end days are because I got verses that tell me yes it’s bad but the Lord will shake the earth and a revival unlike we’ve ever seen will happen.

    Rise and shine!

  • John

    Please do not quote people, such as Vanessa Redgrave, out of context. There were attempts to blacklist her from the television and movies for representing an oppressed people. She gave voice to a dispossessed and imprisoned people who were (and still are) vilified by incredible propaganda from extremists.

    From Wikipedia:

    Julia and related controversy

    In 1977, Redgrave funded and narrated a documentary film on the Palestinian people and the activities of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. That same year she starred in the film Julia, about a woman murdered by the Nazi regime in the years prior to World War II for her anti-Fascist activism. Her co-star in the film was Jane Fonda (playing narrator Lillian Hellman), who, in her 2005 autobiography, noted that:

    there is a quality about Vanessa that makes me feel as if she resides in a netherworld of mystery that eludes the rest of us mortals. Her voice seems to come from some deep place that knows all suffering and all secrets. Watching her work is like seeing through layers of glass, each layer painted in mythic watercolor images, layer after layer, until it becomes dark – but even then you know you haven’t come to the bottom of it … The only other time I had experienced this with an actor was with Marlon Brando … Like Vanessa, he always seemed to be in another reality, working off some secret, magnetic, inner rhythm.[11]

    When Redgrave was nominated for an Oscar in 1978, for her role in Julia, members of the Jewish Defense League (JDL), led by Rabbi Meir Kahane, burned effigies of Redgrave and picketed the Academy Awards ceremony to protest against both Redgrave and her support of the Palestinian cause.

    Redgrave’s performance in Julia garnered an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

    In her acceptance speech, Redgrave announced that neither she nor the Academy would be intimidated by “a small bunch of Zionist hoodlums — whose behavior is an insult to the stature of Jews all over the world, and to their great and heroic record of struggle against fascism and oppression.”[12]

    Later in the broadcast veteran screenwriter and Oscar presenter Paddy Chayefsky told the audience members that

    there’s a little matter I’d like to tidy up…at least if I expect to live with myself tomorrow morning. I would like to say that I’m sick and tired of people exploiting the Academy Awards for the propagation of their own personal propaganda. I would like to suggest to Miss Redgrave that her winning an Academy Award is not a pivotal moment in history, does not require a proclamation, and a simple “thank you” would have sufficed.

    In 1978, Rabbi Meir Kahane published a book entitled Listen Vanessa, I am a Zionist, which was later renamed Listen World, Listen Jew, in direct response to Redgrave’s comments at the Academy Awards. To this day many rightwing Jewish groups, such as the Jewish Defense League, consider Redgrave an opponent and a supporter of terrorism, citing remarks she has made such as, “Zionism is a brutal, racist ideology. And it is a brutal racist regime.”[13]

    In June 2005 Redgrave was asked on Larry King Live: “Regardless of distinctions about policy, do you support Israel’s right to exist?” Redgrave replied that she did.[14]

  • K

    Shapiro’s book quotes LA Times critic Patrick Goldstein dismissing conservative’s concerns about Hollywood black listing as overblown. Goldstein posits if a conservative came up with “the next great blockbuster script” the liberal movie powers would be “pushing their friends down elevator shafts do be able to buy it”. Shapiro refutes this by saying that scenario doesn’t indicate that they’re not biased or black listers, just not morons.

    Goldstein’s example, however, is relevant to the discussion here. If Christians isolate themselves from media to the point of not engaging in it from the creative side, there’s exactly zero chance of ever creating a screenplay or book or painting or whatever that would be good enough to ensure widespread popularity and dilute the “knee high crap”. There are a lot of stories in the OT about Jews who prospered in ancient pagan cultures while keeping to their faith. Something for Christians to keep in mind while working to save Hollywood.

    =Wise as serpents, harmless as doves ; )

  • Chyrsostom

    Might I add a thought from England where we have similar problems?
    Against us we have the following: television; newspapers; radio; cinema; advertisements; the government; the local government et al.

    And on our side all we have are The Holy and Blessed Trinity; Our Blessed Lady; all the angels and all the saints.

    No contest if we call on our side to help us; but if we rely on our own efforts we are sunk.

  • dry valleys

    There have actually been several calls for entertainment and similar industries in Britain to be regulated by the state:

    I will wait for this Reg Bailey to file his recommendations and study the details of what if any legislative proposals are made. But it is interesting to observe that many feminists and left-wing sympathisers agree that the sexualisation and objectification of children has reached an excess. There was someone called Tanith Carey expressing these views just today. What we would blame is commercialism, rather than anything consenting adults do with/to each other.

    I don’t even think this is an especialy political thing, certainly not a left-right issue given how many “libertarians” don’t think there is any problem with the culture. I’ve had a fairly long and thankless day so I won’t flesh this one out, but certainly it’s interesting to see who exactly is for and against objectification.

  • Thomas Hart

    The first thing that you have to do to engage the culture is to understand where the culture comes from. That means going back and reading, if you haven’t previously, a lot of material starting with the Bible, the Greeks and Romans, Dante, Chaucer, Milton, Locke, Rousseau, Hegel and others.

    If you want to understand the founding principles of the US start with Locke, then move on to Montesquieu, then the Federalist papers as well as the anti-federalists. Read Adam Smith as well as Marx.

    Listen to music of all kinds, and watch some of those old movies. Ask yourself questions about them. Are there themes there that aren’t treated now, or that are treated differently?

    I’m currently involved in a multi-year project that involves reading most of the classics that I named, as well as some fun stuff such as music and classic movies. If it’s permissible, I’d like to invite interested parties, including our esteemed hostess, to jump in.

  • Dynan

    How we worship begats how we think begats how we live.

  • Joe

    “The Apostles and Early Church reflected their view of the Lord. Powerful and fully engaged in this world.”

    I am not sure where you get this idea. Paul preached to the Athenians. I don’t think he put on dramas in their theatres. I can appreciate warnings about being too defeatist, but your rhetoric seems equally lopsided. Chesterton wrote in “St Francis” that the early church ended up fleeing to monastaries and fasting to purge themselves of the hyper-sexualized Roman culture that seeped into everyones imagination.

    “I got verses that tell me … the Lord will shake the earth and a revival unlike we’ve ever seen will happen.”

    Do share!

  • Mandy P.

    @Lou and K

    Again, I don’t disagree that there should be more Christians trying to get our message into the culture via entertainment. But seriously, I’m not a writer or an actor. I sing moderately well but not well enough for professional standards. You know what I’m good at? I’m good at taking care of my kids and crochet. I also read pretty fast and can multi-task like no one’s business. So, aside from forking out my family’s very hard earned money to support those who are capable of making it in entertainment- which I try to do whenever the opportunity presents itself- I don’t know what else you would have me, and others like me, do here. Right now, my job is to raise my children. And keeping them from wallowing in the cesspool that is popular culture while simultaneously preparing them for what’s out there isn’t exactly easy, but it’s the only viable option I have so long as the entertainment situation is what it is.

  • Howard

    The new problem with modern entertainment is that, more than anything before the invention of electronic mass media, it creates the illusion that we are close to the artists, but the interaction is entirely one-way. We see a character on TV, but HE NEVER SEES US. He can spout an ideology or model a lifestyle, but he never hears our responses or sees our lives. At *most* there may be a monitoring of how many viewers there are for economic purposes, but it has already been pointed out elsewhere that the sparsity of G-rated movies shows that Hollywood prefers ideology over even profits.

    If you want to urge Catholics to create culture, that’s fine, but urging us to merely consume what’s there so we can be hip and relevant is absurd.

    But as for the larger problem, we’ve been here before. Did St. Augustine recommend that his flock attend the gladiatorial fights in order to stay plugged in to the culture? HE DID SPEAK ABOUT ATTENDING THE FIGHTS — but did he *agree* with what you are saying? What about the plays of the day — plays that recounted shameful myths about the Greco-Roman gods that even serious pagans denounced? Did any of the Church Fathers scold their flocks for “almost bragging that they never watch gladiatorial fights or plays about the sexual conquests of Jove”?

  • Faith

    First of all, one thing to understand- we are not fighting the culture of corruption, we are fighting against forces that in NO WAY one will win. These forces are ones who basically love for their names to be forgotten so that you will not recognize that they are even there. They work in the shadows; they work in the deep crevasses of your mind; they work as masquerading themselves as angels of light- Satan and his demons. The world and even the church will tell you that they hardly exist, but believe me they are hard at work to take down as many souls as they can.
    Man loves to think they can win this war; man loves to think they are in charge of their destinies- that they can change things. They cannot and they will not win. History has shown that man is a failure and not capable of redeeming himself in any way- Read history from the beginning and you will find out how man has completely made a fool of himself while thinking himself wise. Who is kidding himself to think otherwise? The culture of Hollywood is a reflection of our own souls and what man longs to be – free from God and a desire to become their own god. They are just acting the part of what most of this country would like to play. The play started at Eden.

    The funny thing is while man is chasing this wild fantasy of becoming like god- Satan is sitting their laughing because hes got you fooled.

    So what now? You have got two roads only that is it. One goes to God and the other is Satan. You have never been in charge of your destinies and the final curtain call is here. How does this end? The only choice is to believe in the One who can only save us from that road of destruction and that is Jesus Christ. In Him, we do find light and salvation. In Him, we will find life and the ability to show the world what that looks like. In Him, we can show the world how His love can transform and give freedom. In Jesus Christ, there IS A WAY to beat the war of sin that is waging itself in EVERY human being walking the face of the world- you included.

    So instead of saying how can we win this war of corruption that is raging in America and tearing her apart. Start by understanding that it is not man that you are fighting against for man is but an instrument to whoever has control over him. Start by humbling yourself before a mighty God who has be merciful enough to let His Son, Jesus Christ, die for you so that you might receive life and be with Him forever.

  • Steve

    I just want you all to know that having read through the above exchanges, I’m prouder than ever to be a Catholic today. How to engage with and evangelize a debased culture, how to protect our kids–these are really tough, even flammable questions. But even when there is disagreement here you’re all proving yourselves capable of having an exchange based on charity and sincerity. In terms of Web culture, especially, that’s a remarkable thing. You might not have all written screenplays, but you gave me cause for hope nonetheless. A culture in which people speak to one another with dignity and mutual respect–what a concept!

    (And come to think of it, maybe a restoration of civility and thoughtfulness will have to proceed hand-in-hand with, and prehaps even precede, any real engagement aimed at modifying immoral content, as civility and attentiveness have been (perhaps?) the greatest casualties of recent technological changes.)

    Happy Feast of the Ascension to all!

  • Gretchen

    You are right.

    This same argument can be applied to the public school system, I believe. Christian families began pulling out of public schools to homeschool. Once their influence, volunteer hours, spots on the school board disappeared, look what rushed in.

    I think the reason schools and the entertainment industry are general cesspools is that Christians went isolationist. We went too far. I see glimmers of hope through sites like Big Hollywood and the efforts of brave and talented people. God doles out talent in writing, acting, singing, painting. I believe he wants us to use those talents to cast his light into dark corners.

    Additionally, I think many of the commentors here saying they never hear people brag about shunning media do not go to a playground on a random Tuesday morning in suburbia and talk to the moms…or go to Bible study with a large group of moms. These women have nothing but the best intentions when raising their kids, of course.

  • dnb

    Had this same argument with my Catholic parish about why or why not we should invest in a Catholic school. Although I spent 12 years in Catholic education (and had a most excellent time), I was strongly against the need to send my children to same. First, during the ’50s and 60s’, Catholic school education was better than public schools in my Chicago neighborhood, which was probably a secondary reason to be my being sent there. Second, the same is not true of my Chicago suburb neighborhood. Third, my parish religious education is very good, with esp. dedicated, involved parishioners teaching the curriculum. Fourth, same parents are involved in the Home and School of the public school, which is very much connected with volunteering in the community. Fifth, it is essential that good representatives of the Catholic faith (and for that matter, good representatives of Judeo-Christian beliefs) be front and center in the secular world, including public elementary, middle and high school.

    During my child’s induction into her school national honor society, each inductee was introduced with three of his/her interests. Approx. 75% listed a religious affliated volunteer action. Many of them now spend their spring breaks on doing alternative good works. These beautiful young people will help end the legacy of the 1960s, and will change the world for the better.

  • Howard


    Christ Himself did not preach as a child; the closest He came to evangelizing as a child was when He asked knowledgeable questions at the Temple. In its essence, evangelization is a job for adults, not children, and most particularly not children when they are in an environment where they have no right to speak nor any right to avoid listening.

    If your public school is great, that’s fantastic, but the idea of sending children out in order to be a leaven in the world is ridiculous.

  • Wsquared

    I think that in order to engage, we hew to Christ. And by that, I mean that we ask for guidance and wisdom in how to engage– for those who may not be aware of this, the Novena to the Holy Spirit started a couple of days ago. I don’t think this is, or should be, a choice between engaging, whereby we’re going to lose our souls, or living under a rock. God– Father, Son, and Holy Spirit– are far more encompassing than anything created, and certainly any dangerous waters in which we fear swimming, because we know it’s perilous. This does not mean that we won’t mess up. But rather, if we can keep in mind that fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, we should be able to engage more thoughtfully, and with less fear. We’d be able to know better what we’re engaging without feeling as though the ground beneath our feet will collapse.

  • http://None Alex Martin

    The legacy of the late 1960s was false freedom. The Adult Bookstores that sprung up everywhere, the strip clubs and topless bars. Sexual slavery. Then abortion in 1973.

    Who was against Pope Paul VI’s encyclical, Humanae Vitae? It included dissidents inside and outside the Church. When true respect for human dignity disappears, this is what you get. The media just kept slowly, gradually turning up the volume on the sex and profanity. We have the internet now. We can publish at little expense.

  • Catherine

    Caroline: It’s a small thing, but for whatever it’s worth, the CBS show “Blue Bloods” is a police drama centered around a Catholic family. The grandfather is a retired police officer; the father heads the NYPD; two sons are on the force, and a third was killed in the line of duty. Episodes often contain at least one scene of the family at the dinner table, and these always begin with grace (“Bless us, O Lord…”). This is not a ground-breaking show, and as Catholics the characters could use some work. Even the way they say grace is a bit painful to me. But it’s something. In the hands of a Karen or Barbara Allen it might be phenomenal.

  • dnb

    Howard, leading by example is not evangelizing, esp. since the example they are setting at the same time gives them joy. Should we then wait until children have reached an age of maturity (which is very subjective to each child) until they can see an alternative view of what is moral and correct? Should young children see an example of girls gone wild and know the young adults of Jersey Shore without seeing young adults living useful, virtuous lives? At what age do you think children become conscious of right and wrong?

  • Faith

    dnb -

    It does not take very long before a child realizes when he does right or wrong. It is in everyone of us as sinners.
    I homeschool my kids and I teach them everyday about the
    sins that go on and they also see it in themselves, their family, their own neighborhoods and the people that they meet. The great thing is I have the time and energy to be able to talk with them and tell them to think logically. Most importantly, though, I have the time to teach them God’s Word.
    The Jewish children back in Christs time, by the way, did not go to the pagan Roman schools- they were taught in the synagogues. They were taught from an early age God’s Law. Christian children were also taught at home.

    Bad influences around you will ALWAYS corrupt and the socialist agenda that is force down the throats of kids will
    also lead to more socialists.

  • Beth

    I do resent the insinuation that my head is in the sand regarding the culture and evangelizing. As someone in a much earlier combox said, I doubt Ms. Nicolosi has teenage children.
    My experience has been that most Christians around us like to have one foot on both sides of the fence–mass on Sunday and top roles in the church festival and at the same time all over the latest trends, fads, movies, concerts, stars and the like. They too are the ones who cry the loudest when their children choose ‘the world’ and give up their Faith. You cannot have it both ways.
    Then again, Ms. Nicolosi could be talking about those whose kids are deeply well-formed in the faith; yet they are less and less interested in trolling the garbage and wasting precious time on movies and tv BECAUSE their lives are deep and full.

  • Lifelong Lutheran

    It strikes me that there’s a inherent paradox in Ms. Nicolosi’s argument, i.e. that investing in the consumption of media to the extent she suggests in order to “reach” the culture cuts into the very commodity needed for evangelization: time. Time both to interact with the unsaved people around us, and for the oh-so-crucuial nourishment and strengthening of our faith through study of the Word, prayer, worship and partaking of Holy Communion (hope I’m not offending by using the term we Lutherans commonly employ).

    It has only been possible for me personally to give each of those activities the concentration they deserve BECAUSE I’ve re-prioritized time once devoted to TV and movies to them. I’m also convinced that I’m able to focus on them more fully because my body has thrown off the physical effects of television watching; my attention span is longer, my focus clearer, my need for distraction much lower.

    Which do you believe is a better preparation for engaging the lost: being up on every episode of American Idol, or a heart/mind full of the love of Christ? A central element in evangelization is relationship building. How do we do that if we’re glued to the TV set? I’m sure Ms. Nicolosi means well, but she has a blind spot–not too surprising, since it’s an issue dear to her heart. Though her perspective is valid, it’s surely not the definitive solution to the problem of how we deal with pop culture…nor even an advisable one.