Adulterers, Murderers, Liars, Perverts, Thieves, Cheats:
Welcome to Our Homes!
Picture this: You and your family are relaxing in your living room and suddenly a foul mouthed adolescent, his father and uncle burst into your home and begin making lewd comments about casual sexual encounters with a semi-nude young woman. Would you be alarmed and quickly rush your young children from the room? Or would you keep watching Two And A Half Men?
Would you invite your children to make friends with an emotionally-stunted middle aged man who dabbles in homosexuality and blasphemy? Or would you keep watching the cartoon show American Dad?
How would you react to finding your family room filled with mutilated bodies of young girls who have been sexually assaulted in ways you could never imagine in your worst nightmares? Wouldn't you be filled with disgust and rush your family away, hoping against hope that the images didn't remain with them? Or would you keep watching CSI Miami?
Every time you turn on the television in your home, you run the risk of being inundated with a barrage of media that seductively presents the most morally offensive behaviors as normative for our age. Indeed, it seems that each week another line is crossed and the borders between decency and obscenity are further obliterated.
Commercials are no better, and are often worse. At least when you watch a television program you have some idea of what's coming on, what to expect. Not so with commercials, which are designed to seduce in a matter of 15 or 20 seconds. You can pick out those that actively promote unhealthy lifestyles - like this one for Belvedere Vodka which seems to be getting a lot of airplay. (Take a look and try to tally up the multiplicity of unsavory behaviors displayed in the blink of an eye.) Overt sexuality is also inserted into seemingly harmless commercials as well. Pelvic thrusts seem to be almost mandatory. Like in this Kia commercial. Both are "funny." Both, we think, are little bits your children don't need to see.
There is a real danger in your living room - and with televisions now placed throughout the house, it has come into your bedrooms, too.
The assault comes in the form of "family entertainment" - prime time television programming, video games filled with violence, foul language and sexual content. Nearly every American family owns a DVD player and renting movies is now commonplace. Even if you check the ratings, there's no guarantee that the content won't go against the grain of the Catholic values you'd like to promote in your home.
I will never forget one particular evening when my husband and I went to Blockbuster to rent a movie to get our minds off missing our son who had just entered the minor seminary. Not surprisingly, it was difficult to find something that wasn't crude or offensive. On one of the lower shelves we found one that looked interesting. It was called "Priest." The case read:
"Father Greg Pilkington arrives in Liverpool parish where hypocrisy reigns among the other priests and the congregation as a whole. In a misguided attempt to improve matters, Father Pilkington visits his parishioners at their homes, only to have them repeatedly reject him."
What we saw was so completely nauseating it defies description. To make matters worse, the USCCB gave it a rating of A-IV: "limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling" and not the O - morally offensive - that it deserved.
"We are no longer able to
hear God. There are too many different
frequencies filling our ears."
- Pope Benedict XVI
In 1908, Father F.X. Lasance, a well loved Catholic priest and author of many excellent devotional books, advised the readers of "Happiness in Goodness" about the importance of having good books in the home - and the dangers of racy novels. When it was written, 100 years ago, he couldn't possibly imagine the breadth and depth of the assault on our senses today.
"Oh, it's just a television show."
"Don't be ridiculous. You're over-reacting."
If we, as Catholics, are to invite Christ as the unseen Guest into our homes - or if the Blessed Mother were to come for a visit - would you invite either of them to watch television with you?
Junk in. Junk out.
It's your choice.
Wholesome Catholic Viewing
If Jesus walked in and sat down with your family to watch TV, would you be comfortable with your selection of programming? Every choice we make in this all-too-short life brings us either (a) closer to God or (b) further away from God. Choose wisely.
In an effort to provide you with some alternatives that won't make your hair stand on end, we've put together a few pages of DVDs and Videos that your Catholic family will enjoy. You'll find drama, adventure, romance, and the best love stories of all, chock full of superheroes.
Putting these pages together takes time, so please check back for more as the weeks progress. For now take a look at:
A Catholic Night at the Movies: Superheroes
Listen to Your (Holy) Father
In his address for World Communications Day, Pope Benedict VI tells us that social communication is the foremost challenge of the Third Millennium. He raises the alarm about media city that we face :appalling possibilities for evil that formerly did not exist."
Know What You're Watching
Before You Buy a Ticket or Rent a DVD Use These Resources
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Movie and video reviews for brief reviews and Catholic ratings for many movies.
While we love and respect our Bishops, we've had some problems with their reviews. So have the folks at Catholic World News. Your Excellencies, we know it's not a modern idea, but please bring back the Legion of Decency!
For Television Programming
The Parents Television Council (PTC) the nationís most influential advocacy organization protecting children against sex, violence, and profanity in entertainment.
Best of all, the Parents Television Council has links to affiliates, sponsors and the FCC for offending programs so you can make your voice heard.
BEST BET TOOL FOR
PRIME TIME VIEWING
PTC has an easy tool to end arguments over what to watch and what to avoid (of course the commercial content is always a gamble) Take a look at their ratings for the week or each night. You can print them out as well. We put this page together on Thursday and there was only ONE program that rated a green light!
Take a look at their excellent summaries of the impact of popular media on our culture:
The Alarming Family Hour...
No Place for Children
A content analysis of sex, foul language and violence during network televisionís
Faith in a Box
Entertainment Television and Religion
Video Game Industry Seeks to Buy Influence in Congress
And from John Hopkins Research ...