Category: Christians working in Arts and Media

‘Repent and Submit’: The Catholic Hipster and Steve the Missionary Take Over CatholicTV

On Oct. 1, CatholicTV premieres Repent and Submit, a new series featuring two of social media’s favorite Catholics: Tommy Tighe (a k a the Catholic Hipster) and Steven Lewis (a k a Steve the Missionary).

Tighe, who tweets under @theghissilent and, and Lewis, who tweets under @SteveMissionary, are known for using lots of original humor to talk about their personal faith and to evangelize. Here’s a quick sample of recent tweets:

 

Tighe is also an author, having written “The Catholic Hipster Handbook” for Ave Maria Press. Here’s his bio there:

Tommy Tighe is a licensed marriage and family therapist who has worked in community mental health since 2006. He earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 2003 from the University of California at Santa Barbara and a master’s degree in clinical psychology from Antioch University in 2005.

Tighe has contributed to Catholic DigestAleteia, and CatholicMom.com. He records The Catholic Hipster Podcast with cohost Sarah Vablulas. He has appeared on Relevant Radio, EWTN Radio, and The Catholic Channel on SiriusXM Radio, which runs his podcast The Chimney.

He lives with his wife, Karen, in Livermore, California. They have four sons. (Ed: His website says five. He and his wife lost one, and they have another on the way — so far healthy!)

Lewis is a video blogger (his YouTube channel is here), has worked as a campus missionary and focuses on evangelizing the young. He’s also single and worried he’s not doing it right.

Together, the two plan to take a humorous look at topics large and small. Or, you can hear them describe it themselves.

In a recent piece for Angelus News, Tighe wrote:

Repent & Submit is a fast-paced show covering tons of Catholic topics in a brief amount of time, all aimed at helping you have a great time because these are the exact conversations you’re probably having with your Catholic friends on a daily basis. We try and show that, while we may have drastically different opinions on issues within the Church (music style, prayer life, the best way to highlight the younger voices in our parishes), we can still come away as friends and hopefully learn a little something at the same time.

If you’re excited to see something new, something fresh, and something exciting in the world of Catholic television, you’ve got to put Repent & Submit from CatholicTV on your calendar! You can catch it live on air every Wednesday 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on CatholicTV starting the first week of October, or stream it any time at CatholicTV.org or on the CatholicTV app (available for pretty much every device out there).

CatholicTV is indeed available live online, as an Amazon app, on Roku devices, on select cable systems and in lots of other ways.

Repent and Submit premieres live on Monday, Oct. 1, at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT. You can read more about it here, in the digital version of CatholicTV’s magazine; check out the show’s official homepage here; and follow it on Twitter @RepentSubmitCTV, and Catholic TV on Facebook.

Image: Courtesy CatholicTV

Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook. Visit our YouTube and Ustream Channels for our contemporary and classic productions.

‘The Nun’: FTP’s Father Guffey Reviews the Horror Hit and Shares Memories From the Set

Father David Guffey, C.S.C., is the National Director of Family Theater Productions and our Head of Production — and he also writes movie reviews! Here he examines “The Nun,” the latest film in “The Conjuring” universe, which is proving a hit with audiences.

The Nun was the box-office favorite of last week ($54 million domestic). Starting with The Conjuring, The Conjuring 2 and the Anabelle films, this is the sixth film in The Conjuring series from producer James Wan, which feature demonic possession and the people brought in to expel it. As with other films in this series, there is a willingness to admit that evil exists in the world and that it looks for opportunities to insert itself into the life of unsuspecting, usually vulnerable people.

The Nun is rated R, mainly for gore, so it is not a kids’ film. The posters and trailers make it look as though it will be a hit job on the Church. If you see the film, reserve judgement to the end. You may be surprised, as you find that people of faith are the protagonists in the struggle to contain evil.

The Nun begins as Father Burke (Demian Bichir) is summoned to the Vatican and assigned to investigate a recent suicide death in a remote Romanian convent. From the look on the cardinals’ faces, there is more to it, but you knew that from the posters. Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga), a novice who has yet to take final vows, accompanies him.  They travel to a mountainous area in Romania, guided by Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet), a local character who discovered a nun hanging from a ledge outside the convent walls.

Inside the walls, awaits a Gothic scare fest. The order of nuns holds evil at bay by their “Perpetual Adoration” (though there is no sign of a monstrance or a clear understanding of the Eucharist). Father Burke and Sister Irene work to solve the mystery of the convent, as they avoid the Demon Nun, which we first saw in a painting in the home of Catholic exorcists Ed and Lorraine Warren (played by Taissa’s sister, Vera Farmiga) in the first film in The Conjuring series. Then the Demon Nun itself showed up in The Conjuring 2.

Thanks to Warner Brothers, I was invited to tour part of the set in Romania as the film was being shot. The sets were nearly as eerie on the tour we received as they were in the final cut of the film. Another priest had been called to set earlier to bless them. Director Corin Hardy comes from an artistic family and he was trained in art, sculpture and design. He told us, “In painting, I learned to begin with a dark page and then bring the light out of that.”

This vision clearly influences the design of the sets and lighting throughout the whole film. Shadows are thick with bits of light as the only guide and hope. There is, however, light. Light shines through the faith and courage of the good guys (and nuns). Bichir portrays Father Burke as a humbled man with a centeredness and sense of resolve. Farmiga’s Sister Irene brings light to the film with a sense of innocence and confidence that evil can be overcome.

As a Catholic priest and a member of a religious order, the film’s lack of Catholic cultural authenticity was striking, probably more so to me that the average church-going viewer. As a filmmaker, I would argue that more attention to the some of the customs, practices and objects of priests and sisters might have added texture to the beautiful production design, helped give more depth to the characters and accentuated the ultimate conflicts of the film.

The Nun would be a better horror film if it had been written with more Catholic details to add to the contrasts of darkness and light.

Nevertheless, it a watchable and exciting film. Horror fans proved their interest in this series of films, believers will find comfort in the power of faith and I hope there are more films like this coming.  There is evil in the world and it does prey on the most vulnerable.

Faith and the courage are the greatest weapons against such dark forces. Light shines forth in the darkness.

Images: Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures

Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook. Visit our YouTube and Ustream Channels for our contemporary and classic productions.

‘God Bless the Broken Road’: Mixed Reviews for New Faith-Based Film

In theaters Sept. 7, “God Bless the Broken Road” tells the story of a Kentucky-based Afghan War widow, church musician and single mother struggling with her faith and the possibility of a new relationship.

Here’s how the official Website describes it:

God Bless the Broken Road tells the story of a young mother who loses her husband in Afghanistan and struggles to raise their young daughter in his absence. The film combines elements of faith, country music, and stock car racing while paying tribute to those who serve in the United States Military.

Harold Cronk (“God’s Not Dead”) directed the movie and is credited as co-writer with Catholic Jennifer Dornbush, who wrote the book version, which came last summer. Cronk specializes in films aimed at the faith audience, but with the mainstream success of recent films like “I Can Only Imagine,” mainstream news outlets are taking more notice of films targeted at the faithful.

And, like “I Can Only Imagine,” “God Bless the Broken Road” is inspired by a song, this time one by Rascal Flatts called “Bless the Broken Road.” And, like “I Can Only Imagine,” it features actress Madeline Carroll.

Lindsay Pulsipher (“True Blood”) stars as widow Amber; Makenzie Moss plays her daughter, Bree; Kim Delaney (“NYPD Blue”) is Amber’s mother-in-law; and Andrew W. Walker plays Cody, a NASCAR driver who is interested in Amber. Making his film debut is NFL great LaDanian Tomlinson, who plays Amber’s pastor.

Early reviews are positive about the performance of Pulsipher’s performance but not so much about the movie itself.

From The Washington Post:

There are powerful themes of doubt and redemption here, and character actor Gary Grubbs (“The X Files”) is convincing as Joe, the avuncular auto repair-shop owner who teaches “Speed Racer,” as he calls Cody, to slow down when he takes a curve. Ironically, this faith-based film requires a suspension of disbelief: Joe’s lesson is an apt metaphor for life, sure, but how could Cody have had any success on the track if he didn’t already know when to slow down? The parables of Jesus are instructive because they speak to real struggles, but Cody’s hubris is pure contrivance.

… The filmmakers display technical proficiency — shot rhythms and graceful camerawork suggest an omniscient power gently observing His charges — and there is a natural drama in seeing flawed humans struggle with their belief.

But aside from Grubbs’s genuine wisdom, the characters for the most part play inspirational pawns more than three-dimensional people, their relationships held together by the most slender of threads. “God Bless the Broken Road” plants a seed of evangelical drama, but its efforts to proselytize are unlikely to bear fruit.

From the Tribune News Service:

“God Bless the Broken Road” is a very strange Frankenstein’s monster of a film, the story trying to combine too many elements while reverse-engineered into incorporating the title of a popular country song. It is unclear what anything in the movie has to do with Rascal Flatts or the song, except that Amber sings it at the end in her triumphant return to church, after her many come-to-Jesus moments: losing her home, her daughter running away on a go-kart and going to live with her judgmental, multi-level-marketing-shilling mother-in-law, finding out the story of her husband’s death from his Army pal, a climatic NASCAR race wherein her new boyfriend drives a commemorative car decked out in pink camouflage and eagles.

What “God Bless the Broken Road” does have going for it is a better-than-expected performance by Pulsipher, who plays the winsome but broken woman with a deep sense of sensitivity. At the center, she holds together this hodgepodge of random story elements that otherwise don’t make much sense together at all.

And, from AZCentral:

Just to be clear: “God Bless the Broken Road” would be just as bad a film if it were set in, say, an Orthodox Jewish community, rather than the Bible Belt (specifically Kentucky). Like nine out of 10 faith-based films, it lets the message crowd out the other elements of good art: character development, thematic complexity, even basics such as a compelling conflict.

After nearly two hours of plodding storytelling, and despite an affecting performance by Pulsipher, we know nothing about Amber other than her difficult circumstances and maybe the fact that she likes Rascal Flatts and Scrabble. And the world she lives in is equally gauzy, filled with good-willed people of faith who, except maybe for her mean boss, all have her best interests at heart.

None of this reaction is surprising, and some of it may be accurate. But it comes from reviewers who are very unlikely to be counted among the film’s target demo. So, faith-based viewers will have to decide for themselves about “God Bless the Broken Road.”

Images: Courtesy 10 West Studios/A Really Good Home Pictures

Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook. Visit our YouTube and Ustream Channels for our contemporary and classic productions.

The Eucharist: Bishop Barron, Flannery O’Connor, Catholic Central and the Real Presence

What is the source and summit of the Catholic faith? The Eucharist. And, according to author Flannery O’Connor, when a fellow writer said it was a beautiful symbol: “If it’s a symbol, to hell with it.”

Bishop Robert Barron is busy traveling, shooting new episodes for his “Catholicism: The Pivotal Players” series, including one on O’Connor, whose sometimes hard-edged tales touch on the deepest recesses of the human heart and the ever-present chance of redemption.

In the clip below from the O’Connor episode, posted Aug. 14, Barron can be seen in the rose gardens at Yaddo, an artist’s colony and retreat near the famed Thoroughbred racecourse in Saratoga Springs, in upstate New York. It includes the above quote and more.

As demonstrated by the exodus of many disciples as soon as Christ started talking about the true nature of the Eucharist, it’s a hard thing to accept: that the Son of God can be fully present — Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity — under the appearance of bread and wine.

In Family Theater Productions’ online series “Catholic Central,” we consider the Eucharist to be so important that we dedicated two episodes to it. It’s a serious subject, and host Kai (Kaiser Johnson) and Libby (Elizabeth Slater) treat it as such, but with the lighthearted touch seen throughout the show (which is still releasing new episodes regularly).

So, how lighthearted?

Take a look at “Eucharist 101” (full episode page here, with transcript and study materials):

And the follow-up episode, about the “Real Presence” (full page here):

Catholics love Mary and the saints, but Jesus is the undisputed Lord, Savior and King, who gives Himself to us at every Mass, in the humblest and most miraculous of ways.

Enjoy all the episodes at CatholicCentral.com.

Images: Courtesy Word on Fire; Family Theater Productions

Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook. Visit our YouTube and Ustream Channels for our contemporary and classic productions.

Bishop Barron’s ‘Catholicism’ Marks 10 Years With Video and Free Online Screening

A decade ago, then-Father Robert Barron started filming his acclaimed “Catholicism” series, which premiered in the fall of 2011 on PBS, and has since gone on to become one of the most beloved and acclaimed presentations about the Faith.

Available on DVD and online, “Catholicism” not only became a mainstream media phenomenon but a catechetical one as well, with many Catholic educators using the show to teach both children and adults.

Emphasizing the scope, history, beauty and faces of the Church past and present, “Catholicism” set a gold standard for portraying the Catholic Church in the mainstream media. Beautifully shot all around the world and carefully researched, it’s leagues beyond many sensational popular documentaries and movies that often trivialize, sensationalize or outright misrepresent the Church, her teachings and her history.

From the original press release for the PBS debut:

“The filming of the Catholicism series was one of the most exciting and rewarding periods of my life,” said Fr. Barron. “Our team traveled the globe to capture some of the beauty, truth, and texture of Catholicism. I am thrilled that people across the country will have the opportunity to share in the series,  and I hope to engage the imaginations of both Catholics and non-Catholics.“

“This series changed the way I think and act. The global settings were stunning, but it was Fr. Barron s brilliant insights on life s most challenging issues that shook me to the core,’ admitted [executive producer and filmmaker] Mike Leonard. “Whatever your belief or background, there is much to gain from this deep and profound excursion into spirituality, logic and the human experience,” he added.

In this sweeping documentary, Father Barron tells the story of Catholicism around the world using art, architecture, literature, music and all the riches of the Catholic tradition. The production crew travels to some of the most magnificent and sacred sites in Jerusalem, Rome, Krakow, Warsaw, New York, Istanbul, Ephesus, Lourdes, Mexico City, Athens, Corinth, Mexico City, Uganda, Manila, Sao Paolo, Auschwitz, Kolkata, Philadelphia, Chicago, and beyond.

The team was granted exclusive access to film privately in many locations inaccessible to the general public. Highlights include some of the world s architectural and artistic masterpieces and most sacred places: The Dome of The Rock, the Hagia Sophia, the tomb of Mother Teresa, The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, rare views of the Pantheon, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel and the Pope’s private gardens, Chartres, Notre Dame, and Cologne Cathedrals, as well as one of the largest religious celebrations on the planet, the feast of the Ugandan martyrs.

To mark the occasion, now-Bishop Barron and executive producer Steve Grunow of Barron’s Word on Fire apostolate have released this video:

Word on Fire has also made the whole 10-part series free for viewing online for a limited time.

Click here to learn more.

Images: Courtesy Word on Fire

 Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook. Visit our YouTube and Ustream Channels for our contemporary and classic productions.

Katy Perry and Pope Francis: ‘My mom has prayed for me my entire life, hoping I’d come back to God’

Katy Perry met the pope, and she liked it.

In an interview published yesterday in the Australian version of Vogue, pop star Katy Perry — who’s currently a judge on ABC’s revival of “American Idol” — talked about going to the Vatican and meeting Pope Francis.

Perry was raised in California by two Pentecostal pastors, but apparently her mother, Mary Hudson, was raised a Catholic. Perry has drifted far from her faith and the gospel music of her youth, and her mother has drifted far from her Catholic roots — but a trip to the Vatican in late April proved enlightening for both.

From Vogue:

“It started when we were on the Asia leg of the tour and I went to mass with my mom,” Katy tells me. “She hadn’t sung those songs in 40 years and watching her made me cry. It’s so beautiful and humbling to re-centre in a place where it’s not about anything else but reconnecting with the divine.”

Hudson wasn’t thrilled about all of her daughter’s music, especially one of her hit songs.

Unsurprisingly, her first megahit, 2008’s I Kissed a Girl, didn’t go platinum around the family dinner table. “My mom has prayed for me my entire life, hoping I’d come back to God. I never left Him, I was just a little bit secular, I was more materialistic and more career-driven. But now that I’m in my 30s, it’s more about spirituality and heart wholeness.”

Perry, 33, boyfriend Orlando Bloom (Legolas from “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” movies) and Hudson, traveled to Rome so Perry could speak at a health-centered Vatican conference, on the subject of meditation.

Then came the moment they met the pope (more pictures here).

Vatican Media Foto/Handout/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

“I’m such a big fan of Pope Francis. It’s a combination of compassion, humility, sternness and refusal. He is rebel – a rebel for Jesus.” Katy lists some papal facts, including that he named himself after Francis of Assisi, her favourite saint, and that he sticks to his vow of poverty despite the lavish surroundings of the Vatican. “He is bringing the Church back to humility and connecting with people. He’s very humble and not frivolous.” He’s also a lover of animals and is often depicted surrounded by wooded creatures, which reminds her of her favourite Disney character, Snow White.

You can read the whole story here.

Back in California, Perry intersected with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles when, in 2014, she tried to buy an eight-acre complex that was the convent home for the Sisters of the Most Holy and Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the upscale Los Feliz neighborhood.

Founded in California, the Immaculate Heart Sisters, as they were known, specialized in educating young women. But an encounter with alternative psychology in the 1960s largely led to the dissolution of the order as a Catholic entity. By the time Perry wanted to buy the former convent, there were only a handful of sisters left, and those were advanced in years.

Perry offered $14.5M in cash for the hilltop property, which Archbishop Jose Gomez approved. But, but two of the remaining sisters — who had vacated the property in 2011 — argued that it wasn’t the Archdiocese’s to sell. They objected to the sale — preferring a different buyer – leading to a five-year legal battle with Perry (click here for a full rundown from Billboard). In 2017, a judge ruled in favor of the sale to Perry.

In March 2018, one of the sisters died during a court appearance.

As of the time Perry visited the Vatican, the pope needed to approve Archbishop Gomez’s original contract to sell to Perry. There’s no word whether the two discussed it during their meeting. Reportedly, Perry wants to share the property with her mother and grandmother.

According to the most recent press reports, as of March, the sale was still on hold.

As for the future, we can only hope that Perry’s mother keeps praying — because we all know the power of a mother’s intercession.

Images: Wikimedia Commons; Vatican Media Foto/Handout/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

 Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook. Visit our YouTube and Ustream Channels for our contemporary and classic productions.