Category Archives: television

Peter Fonda to Portray Con-Artist Preacher

Deadline Hollywood says:

“Peter Fonda is set for a starring role in The Most Hated Woman in America, the true story of Madalyn O’Hair, an atheist who got the Supreme Court to overturn prayer in public schools. Netflix is financing the motion picture with Melissa Leo starring…

“Fonda will play Reverend Harrington, a con-artist preacher who partners with O’Hair to do a tour of revival meetings to prey on the God-fearing aspect of his followers. Leo will portray O’Hair, the outspoken and overbearing founder of American Atheists, whose eloquent, impassioned speeches in favor of separation of church and state were much at odds with her unethical business practices (the Internal Revenue Service had long-suspected that she moved the organization’s money into overseas bank accounts to avoid taxes).”

Rsad the full article.

Donald Trump as faith healer and televangelist

I should, and I will, skip an attempt at the underlying meaning behind 33 percent of South Carolina evangelicals voting for Donald Trump.

Instead, I’ll repeat part of Sarah Posner’s plausible analysis on the Washington Post‘s Acts of Faith blog.

“Trump is arguably the candidate most resembling a televangelist.

“For many evangelicals, Pentecostals and charismatic Christians, magical thinking has found its expression through the prosperity gospel, much to the consternation of Christians who consider it a heresy and a fraud. A uniquely American contribution to the evolution of Christianity in the modern age, the prosperity gospel teaches that God wants believers to be rich.

“It’s also called the health and wealth gospel: Its adherents believe that God blesses the faithful with great wealth, keeps their health robust and cures the faithful of every malady. Successful televangelists boast of revelations received directly from God and of their ability to produce miracles….

“Despite countless exposés of prosperity televangelists’ excesses — including Creflo Dollar’s pleas for his followers to fund his $60 million Gulfstream airplane, Benny Hinn’s phony faith healings, and Kenneth Copeland’s luxurious homes, cars and planes — televangelism still thrives in America. It is, according to the scholar Kate Bowler, who wrote a book about it, ‘one of the most popular forms of American Christianity.’ It has permeated evangelical culture, through television, megachurches, conferences and books that are found not just in Christian bookstores but also at the checkout line at supermarkets and in airports…..

“Copeland’s television program is called ‘The Believer’s Voice of Victory.’ Winning. Copeland was one of a roomful of televangelists who laid hands on Trump last year, thanking God ‘for a bold man, a strong man and an obedient man’….

“Trump draws his most significant support from voters who make less than $50,000 a year. He has led them to believe that only a rich, successful entertainer can make America great again. Like a televangelist, Trump’s success is seen as evidence of his prowess, but even more important, of God’s good favor. His supporters seem to believe, too, that he will bring them along for the ride.”

I really like Posner’s idea of affiliation: If I affiliate myself with the prosperity-preaching televangelist, I’ll get close, closer, to the faith I need to succeed. If I affiliate myself with a wealthy businessman, I’ll get close, closer, to the mojo I need to succeed.

And, after reading that, if you ever had any doubt that Kenneth Copeland is a fraud, well, all doubts should now be gone.

I mean, in the context of Posner’s post, Copeland only called Trump “obedient” after receiving a nice donation.

Meanwhile, I’ve been posting a spelling pun on social media today—”Donald Trump: Make America Grate Again”—only to be informed by a former newsroom colleague that an editorial cartoonist got there first. Dang it.

CNN’s ‘Atheists: Inside the World of Non-Believers’

Last night, I watched “Atheists: Inside the World of Non-Believers” on CNN. Reporter Kyra Phillips mostly focused on the “atheist” label as an identity and a social factor in families and small towns.

Her report primarily told the stories of four atheists:

1. A Georgia college student who left the faith of his conservative, Bible-believing family to become a leader of student atheists on his campus;

2. a former Pentecostal preacher in Louisiana who now leads Sunday-morning, church-style gatherings for atheists;

3. a man currently in Christian ministry who has lost his faith (he was interviewed with his face hidden and his voice disguised for fear of distressing the congregation that currently depends upon him);

4. and the somewhat militant founder of American Atheists and Atheist TV.

With the emphasis on the social aspects on the “atheist” identity, the program did not directly address arguments for and against the existence of God.

Phillips gave a considerable portion of the program to the college student’s parents, who expressed their heartbreak over their son’s unbelief and their conviction that he is hell-bound. The tension within the family was apparent especially in the interview with the parents, and it was somewhat apparent in the interviews and on-campus filming of the son. At the same time, the son appeared to have warm, supportive relationships with the other members in his atheist group.

The ex-Pentecostal preacher, the one who now leads a church-like atheist community, appeared genuinely upbeat and kind. He seemed at ease with himself and others around him.

I’ve been wondering what else constitutes evidence for a religious, or non-religious, perspective.

The arguments for a particular way of living aren’t the same as the actual living of that life, no more than (as William Barrett once noted) a menu is a substitute for a meal.

You can memorize a menu and still starve. You can also spend so much time admiring the menu, you forget to eat.

We could allow that there’s a difference between the descriptions on the menu, and the actual experience of the meal.

We could also say that some people eat while looking at the menu, convincing themselves that what they’re eating is the same as what appears on the menu, when actually they’re eating an inferior meal.

Last night’s program didn’t show me much menu, but it showed me some people enjoying a particular kind of meal. They didn’t appear to be starving.

‘The Following’ Twist Was A Perfect Way To Kick Off Season 2

“The Following” is interesting because the television series, which just started its second season last night, is a mass-media, mass-culture representation of a cult with an authoritarian leader and a central text. The use of language figures prominently in fictitious cult’s dynamics — and then there’s the leader’s obsession with the works of Edgar Allan Poe. If you haven’t watched the program, please don’t let these analytical comments lead you to believe watching “The Following” is an academic exercise. It has genuine gumshoe detective elements. However, “The Following” is a psychological horror story far beyond the usual boundaries of television. It’s scarier than “Grimm” or “Legend of Sleepy Hollow” ever could be, because “The Following” seems plausible in our time of media-savvy terrorism and rapid-growth fanaticism.

Hollywood Life

On Jan. 19, the season premiere of ‘The Following’ definitely brought some twists — two huge ones, to be exact. Both of them made me realize why this show is one of the scariest on TV . . . and that season two will be even more disturbing as season one.

Spoiler alert — if you haven’t yet watched the season two premiere of The Following (shame on you), you may not want to continue reading. Or, if you like spoilers, click on in!

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Dear Ruby Tuesday restaurant chain

Dear Ruby Tuesday,

Having viewed a recent television advertisement for your restaurant chain, I have a question:

What is a “chef-inspired entree”?

Would you happened to have any “chef-made entrees”?

I confess I often make “non-chef-inspired entrees” for my children — you know, pre-prepared foods that just require a little time in the oven or the microwave.

‘Amish: Out of Order’ — my review of the new National Geographic Channel series

logo for National Geographic Channel

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My new column for the Weekly Surge reviews the National Geographic Channel series premiere of “Amish: Out of Order.” Please read it here.


‘House, MD’ closes the season with an example of anger management

Gregory House

Image via Wikipedia

Spoiler alert: If you haven’t yet seen the season finale of House, MD and want to watch it online or on your DVR, this post will probably give away too much.

So, what did you think about how Dr. House expressed his emotions?

First, he finally told Cuddy that he feels “hurt.”

Then, at Wilson’s encouragement, House finally expressed his anger.

But not how Wilson had meant.

After walking up to Cuddy’s residence and seeing her enjoying a dinner with others during what looked like a double date, House returned to his car, kicked Wilson out, and drove his car into Cuddy’s dining room. And then, in a visually anti-climatic, yet psychologically very climatic moment, House pushed his way out of the car, climbed over the rubble, and handed to Cuddy the one thing she had still left at his house: a hairbrush.

This violent, over-the-top gesture made sense. House has been demanding to be accepted as he is for a long time. Wilson and Cuddy have been telling him to acknowledge the feelings he has been masking with Vicodin. Given encouragement and permission to open up and release, House let go, and the anger poured out in a juvenile, bratty statement.

I might imagine Wilson continuing his friendship with House, but there is no way Cuddy will ever speak to House again.

But this cast is too good to break apart. I think one more season is reasonable, don’t you?