Coming out in time for the holiday season, Christmas for a Dollar is a family and faith friendly movie that is already available on DVD and will be aired on the UP! Network on December 15th at 7pm. Now you may be wondering if this is one of those sugary, feel-good movies that shamelessly tugs at your heartstrings. And it is! But it knows that and it nails its genre. While the movie may not be nominated for any Oscars it delivers a wholesome, heartwarming story, with great values, legitimately touching and funny moments, and a happy holiday ending that just might make Ebenezer Scrooge smile. Christmas for a Dollar tells the tale of a family living during the Great Depression and they face their first Christmas after the loss of their mother. While money is tight, the father, played by Brian Krause, puts up a dollar for each of the children to borrow from so they can get, or make, a gift for a sibling they drew in a Secret Santa fashion. In the effort of creating Christmas on a budget, the children learn the value of honesty, gratitude and reaching out to those in need – whether it’s the financially or emotionally poor. The film also stars well known TV stars such as Nancy Stafford. A “congratulations” is in order for Paulist Productions, a faith-based media company, like our own, who co-produced this film. An interesting fact is that Paulist Productions is a Catholic sponsored ministry but their production partners are Mormon, making this possibly one of season’s few inter-faith based films. What better way to celebrate the birth of our savior than with a truly Christian story made by companies who were able to work together, seeing past what divides us and focusing instead on what we have in common.
Lionsgate release Ender’s Game hit theaters this weekend. Even though I had never read the book, I was excited to see this film. My excitement didn’t last.
Ender’s Game tells the story of Ender Wiggins, a brilliant child who is recruited by the International Military to save Earth from a gigantic intellectually superior bug invasion.
Great premise, bad execution.
The film is loaded with great talent…Harrison Ford, Viola Davis, BenKingsley, Abigail Breslin, and Hailee Steinfeld. And as great as their performances are, there is only so much you can do with the source material. The story seemed flat and unrealistic. I’ve been told that in the book, the story takes place over many years as the main character of Ender grows and is heavy on explaining what goes on in his head. The film made it seem as though this child goes from elementary school, to command school, to battle school, to saving the planet…in a matter of a few weeks. The film is dialog heavy with very little action. There is no arc for the main character, Ender, and I did not feel as though the film made me care about him or any other character. Granted, if I had read the book then maybe I would have understood the motivation behind the characters. But a film should be able to stand on its own. Unfortunately, this one did not.
The film presents many moral questions that are important for all of us to think about. Is war the answer? Is pre-emptive war morally sound? Are child soldiers okay? Do the ends justify the means? All great questions, but it felt like they were thrown into the film in the last 15 minutes with no real hint at what the answers might be.
If your children see this film, it would certainly be a good opportunity to discuss these questions with them. However, with a PG-13 rating, mostly for violence, parents should decide if this is even appropriate for their children.
If you are a fan of the book, you might want to see it but be warned you may be disappointed. If you are not a fan of the book, I would suggest skipping this one.
Many people worry about the state of youth in our country, what influences them, what guides them, what pressures them, what morality forms them? In the days of Miley Cyrus and the Kardashians, it’s no wonder that people are concerned about teens’ role models and morality. So what can be done? Well, one solution is to elevate them! And more specifically connect them with Elev8-X (pronounced Elevate X). This non-profit teen integrity program uses live performances, testimonies, multi-media and videos to encourage young people to make positive moral choices. Currently, their live programs have reached more than 10,000 youth. Elev8 guides and inspires young people through contemporary methods and a “hip, cool” style as Elev8 want teens to know that their message is “real, relatable and relevant.” In their own words, Elev8-X is a “groundbreaking teen integrity program, impacting students across the nation. ELEV8-X is a highly EDUCATIONAL, INSPIRATIONAL, and ENTERTAINING conglomerate of talented young people contributing their talents to better America’s youth. Topics include: Anti-Bullying, Self-worth, Anti-Substance Abuse, and Waiting Until Marriage.” To check them out on-line go to http://elev8-x.org/ or find them on Facebook at Elev8-X. As content creators ourselves, we are encouraged to see others use new media to spread these positive and powerful messages.
Pope Francis has over 3 million Twitter followers in addition to Facebook. If Pope John Paul II was the first modern Pope to embrace the potential of media, Holy Father Francis is the first to embrace the potential of new and social media.
He has called Christians to be present and faithful in social media as a way of pointing to Jesus Christ.
The Catholic New Media Conference is planned for October 19, 2013, in Boston Massachusetts. It a chance for parishes, schools or just interested individuals to take their social media activity to a new level. This is where people are meeting, searching and thinking, so the Church needs to be there too.
The conference features world renowned media practitioners including TV, Radio and New Media expert, Father Roderick Vohnogen; Elizabeth Scalia, author and Managing Editor of Patheos and Patrick Padley, a social media strategist.
I have attended two of the past Catholic New Media Conferences. After each event, I left not only inspired but also equipped with new tools and insights for media minsitry.
You can find information at The Catholic New Media ConferenceWebsite.
Someone wise once said to me, “There are no coincidences with God.” Over the years I’ve learned how true this statement is. God’s timing is perfect.
I recently had the pleasure of screening a back door pilot of a new series for the Hallmark Channel. Martha Williamson, the masterful story teller behind the heavenly Touched by an Angel, has returned to television with a brand new story that is sure to touch the hearts of all those who watch.
Signed, Sealed, Delivered is the story of four quirky but lovable characters that make up the Dead Letter Office of the US Postal Service. Sometimes letters have been so drastically altered (by weather, hungry dogs, or other uncontrollable factors) that it is almost impossible to see who the letters were originally addressed to. It’s the DLO’s job to decipher the clues and figure out who the addressees are and make sure they are delivered.
Each of the members of the Dead Letter Office are masters at what they do. They get the job done. And while the letters may have been delayed in arriving at their destination, they are always on time…God’s time.
Oliver, the eccentric director of the office, who never breaks the rules and has a penchant for yoo-hoos and a simpler time before modern communication, is played by the handsome Eric Mabius (Ugly Betty). His office runs quite efficiently until the arrival of the tech savvy, Shane, who is a nice contrast to Oliver and played by Kristin Booth (The Kennedys). The two are assisted by the intuitive oddball, Norman, and the sweet and lovely Rita and her photographic memory. Both parts are played endearingly by Geoff Gustafson and Crystal Lowe and the two have great comical timing. The quartet has great chemistry on screen as they solve the mysteries that the lost letters bring them.
While the story itself is well written and the acting solid, what makes the film special is the way that Williamson works in her themes of Faith, Hope, Love, Redemption, and of course the staple (as Touched by an Angel fans will remember) that God loves you and is working in your life. Oliver and his colleagues have a strong Faith in God and believe that each letter is delivered in God’s perfect timing.
Hallmark has plans to turn this film into a series and I couldn’t be happier to hear it! In this crazy and busy world, it’s easy to forget that God has a plan for our lives. This series will be a great and fun reminder to us all that God’s timing is perfect. And I would add that the timing of this Hallmark series is also…perfect.
Be sure to catch Signed, Sealed, Delivered on Saturday, October 12th on the Hallmark Channel!
A few years ago when my youngest niece was only 5, she walked in the living room and said, “Mother, I am so mad at you, you have done nothing to make me famous.”
In our world today so many young people seem to long for the attention and status that celebrity offers. Someyoung models, singers and actors seem to be willing to go to increasingly scandalous and bizarre lengths to attract attention.
Sinead O’Connor, the once controversial Irish Singer, recently wrote an open letter to Miley Cyrus on the occasion of the release of Cyrus’s new album. O’ Connor’s letter was frank and motherly warning Miley to be an artist and not to get co-opted by her own desire for fame or other’s desire to profit from her notoriety. She writes:
“You are worth more than your body or your sexual appeal. The world of showbiz doesn’t see things that way, they like things to be seen the other way, whether they are magazines who want you on their cover, or whatever… Don’t be under any illusions.. ALL of them want you because they’re making money off your youth and your beauty… which they could not do except for the fact your youth makes you blind to the evils of show business. If you have an innocent heart you can’t recognize those who do not.”
The letter was especially touching because of O’Connor’s admission of her own mistakes and challenges.
October 4 is the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, one of the most famous and recognizable figures of all of history. Though universally admired now, he was a source of much debate in his day. His message was challenging to so many groups, in large part because there was little disparity between what he preached and what he lived. What he preached was a message of love, of wonder, of truth and of faithfulness to God in Jesus Christ. He lived with a sense of awe amid God’s creation, of compassion for the poor, of peace among people. He did not need a publicist to become known, becoming famous was not his goal. True fame, spiritual celebrity, is never a goal but an outcome of living an exemplary life that points towards something greater.
To my my dear niece and all children like her who desire instant celebrity status, let it be the fame of the sort that Francis and not that of the tabloid star.