MAKING GOOD MEDIA CHOICES

July 24, 2014

 

I have an undergrad degree in Radio and Television Communication from Loyola University of Chicago. I am happy about that degree for many reasons, one of which is the fact that while I was attending classes at Loyola, Fr. Philip Wozniak, OFM Conv., the Cleric Master and Rector of the Franciscan College House of Studies, would always tell me that if I got the degree I’d be the first. All those before me who attempted Communication Degrees left the seminary. Reflecting back on those days of the early seventies, I can certainly understand why.

 

Nevertheless, here I am in the 21st Century! My communication’s degree from 1973 may as well have been written on the back of a shovel for the ways in which the field has expanded and changed over those years.

 

One thing I find today is how much I don’t really like television. There’s very little that makes me laugh about the highly rated comedies and very little that holds my interest in “high octane” drama. Television programming has too much “agenda” and I find myself uncomfortable with it, contrary to it, and to tell the truth, bored like crazy with it! Quite frankly, I don’t have much time to “watch” TV, so when I do, I am fussy. I do confess to being a “Downton Abbey” fan—but more often than not I simply buy the season DVD and watch the episodes on my own time.

 

One program, however, that has caught my attention for several reasons—not the least of which being the fact that it has remained on the air for four seasons—is a program airing on Friday nights called “Blue Bloods.” The show is a crime-action drama centering around Tom Selleck, the Police Commissioner of New York, his two sons, both police officers for the NYPD, his daughter, who works in the District Attorney’s Office and their families. The drama unfolds in their Irish, “law and order” family whose values and lifestyles are unmistakably mixed up with their unabashed practice and knowledge of their Catholic faith. For that reason alone I’m surprised it made it four seasons! Mind you, this is not some faith driven messenger series; but rather portrays the faith being served very well, better than I have seen on network television in many a year.

 

This family struggles with issues—personal, familial, and civil. Priests, Sisters, and the Church, Herself, are presented in a positive and balanced way. Catholic teaching is often considered in the middle of some fairly difficult human dilemmas and pondered as a part of the resolution of conflicts. Most episodes conclude with the family gathered around the dining room table—saying the traditional meal prayer—and offering a very positive view of putting Catholic faith into daily action. The program shows saints and sinners, but it is nice to know that the producers seem to think we are part of the winning team.

 

Newton Minow, who was born in Milwaukee in 1926, is the former Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. In 1961 he offered a speech wherein he called television a “vast wasteland.” http://youtu.be/9dGRgLfaGwo Today he considers it a “toxic dump.”

 

It is very important, especially for parents, to monitor the media to which we and our children are exposed. With so many choices and so many devices delivering programming it becomes even more difficult. Some things still remain tried and true:

 

  • Choose your friends wisely.
  • Know your children’s friends.
  • Choose your entertainment and that of your children with positive values in mind.
  • Create your own (non-electronic) entertainment.
  • Spend time at home—with family—especially family meals.
  • Make time for one another and create a home environment where everyone will feel included and comfortable.
  • Have safe boundaries and a reasonable structure.
  • Offer positive signs of affection.
  • Talk intelligently—meaningfully—with one another.
  • Listen.
  • Pray together.

 

And, of course, remember Sunday Mass!

 

 

EVANGELIZATION AT THE GOAL

July 11, 2014

 

So many of my friends still give me a razzing over the fact that I maintain some “home town” allegiance to the Chicago Bears football team even though I have been living in Wisconsin for almost half of my life. Now, if you didn’t already know that, please bear in mind (no pun intended) that my “allegiance” –as it is in most competitive sports—is purely cosmetic. I really don’t follow sports teams quite the way I used to when I was younger. I do, however, try to avoid various “conflicts of opinion” with more serious sport fans when asked about my team loyalties. I simply respond that I am a soccer fan. In most cases that terminates the investigation and I am free to go about whatever business is at hand. I know, now that I have “outed” myself, my subterfuge may no longer prove possible. Time will tell; and now you know. But that’s not the point of this writing. It was merely a not-so-subtle way of writing about the World Cup and soccer madness in America.

 

Most of us Americans find it very difficult to follow soccer—much less to allow it to substitute for American football—which is for us what soccer is in Europe. But we did allow ourselves a few moments to revel in the international moment of soccer fever as the USA team made their way to near-glory at the World Cup Games in Brazil. The indomitable swagger of the United States raised its mighty prowess once again on the world stage in spite of so many set-backs in other more political arenas. There was once again a glimmer of the fact: “I believe—USA!”

 

One great personality seemed to rise from the Brazilian sports’ fields—Tim Howard, the indefatigable goalie of Team USA. His popularity has risen to such an extent that he is even considered for possible future political candidacy of one sort or another. Be that as it may, one thing did rise in his popular ascendency—he is a Christian! CNN led off with Howard’s Christian faith in its recent report on 10 little known things about the athlete. “Faith, the CNN story relates, is a key part of Howard’s life and shapes who he is.” Howard, himself, reported in a 2006 interview, that: “The most important thing in my life is Christ. He is more important to me than winning or losing or whether I am playing or not. Everything else is just a bonus.”

 

Howard, who was born in North Brunswick, New Jersey, played his first professional soccer match at age of 19 for the New York/New Jersey MetroStars. He suffers from a neurological disorder known as Tourette’s syndrome, further characterized by physical and verbal tics. His life with the disease has often been chaotic and difficult. His grandmother was a source of strength and stability. Her sense of peace was so powerful, Tim relates, because it came from the Lord.

 

Tim Howard, like so many other public personalities, is affecting the world for good. He has played soccer for the world famous Manchester United Red Devils—the world’s most popular sports franchise boasting more than fifty million fans (larger than the entire population of England), for Everton in the Premier League, and the United States National Team at the 2010 and, of course, 2014 World Cup games.

 

Tim Howard uses his popularity as a soccer player to bring glory to God, not as a self-promotion of his own talents. In an interview with “Athletes in Action” Tim noted that his life with Tourette’s has not been easy. “But God,” he said, “has blessed me with the gift of athleticism as well. He has done some powerful things in my life through the combination of these two gifts. … He also has shown me ways to use my position as a professional athlete to encourage others with Tourette's syndrome. Today, I am blessed to be living a dream. And yet, if it all went away tomorrow, I know I would still have peace. That probably sounds crazy to most people, but that's the kind of peace Christ gives. It is rooted in His love, and it surpasses all understanding.”

 

Tim Howard has shown himself to be a valuable player in international soccer and a valuable model of Christian sportsmanship on the field of life. He chooses to make a difference in preference for helping others and specifically doing so by giving honor and glory to God. This is the message of the New Evangelization and the way every true believer scores the goal and gives God the glory!

 

Bring your best to Mass on Sunday!