Nothing beats a handshake, a shared experience, or a good laugh for building relationships. That’s why TV and Internet communication is a double-edged sword.
After disconnecting the earpiece and microphone at the television studio or writing the day’s blog, I almost always have mixed feelings. What have I done? What lasting impact have my words had on people’s lives? Your written responses have helped me put those feelings into perspective, to accept the somewhat impersonal nature of this work as an unfortunate limitation to a very fortunate opportunity — to be in touch with you in the first place. When you write, you call me by name and you tell me about yourselves. That helps. When I’m able to respond, I try to do the same.
Today, I’ll leave the introduction at that. I just wanted to say I appreciate your notes. Keep them coming, because they keep me going.
I’ll now go straight to our “Interactive Friday” e-mails. As always, the messages are not chosen randomly. I’ve handpicked them for one of two reasons: either they represent the views of a large number of responders, or they add an important point to our discussion. I’ll also take advantage of some of them to clarify my own opinion.
Your messages are in response to two of the last four entries.
Open Letter to Hollywood
Masterfully written. Much better than I, an officer in our United States Air Force, could have ever dreamed or concocted. I will be tuning in for more from Father Jonathan. Disappoint me he will not! Thank you.
RESPONSE: “Swede”, thank you for putting your life on the line in defense of our country.
What a hypocrite you are! You say movies are good because they make money. What do statistics know about what is good? You would like to reduce theatre appreciation to the lowest common denominator. And by the way, isn’t money the root of all evil?
— Bill (Los Angeles, CA)
RESPONSE: I obviously touched a nerve. I’m sorry. But you’re right to point out that box office revenues alone don't determine artistic worth. Pornography, for example, is a profitable industry, but it is bad in every way. In the movie industry, however, people think twice about what they see. Going to the movies is an investment of time and money, and their investment is a reflection of what they value. The numbers show Americans don't think propaganda is worth their while. When Hollywood unites great art with great ideas the result is a blockbuster. In response to your second question, it’s “love of money” that gets us in trouble.
Thanks for your “Open Letter to Hollywood.” I’m glad that FOX exists to give you a platform for a letter like that. I agree with much of what you said.
Your plea for Hollywood to listen to what the people want, as I’m sure you know, will fall on deaf ears. I think those in Hollywood want to do what THEY want (not what we want). That’s the whole point.
So, I think rather than pleading with them to embrace a message they don’t believe, we should encourage and equip Christians to be a positive force in the entertainment industry. I think that’s the only way it can change — from the inside out.
Christians must become skilled, respected, and respectful filmmakers in Hollywood.
Thanks again for your letter. And thanks for your respectful tone. I appreciate the grace you showed Hollywood, as well as the truth.
— Jill (Co-Producer, Inspirational Films)
RESPONSE: Jill, your point that America needs “skilled” filmmakers is an important one. Those who are in Hollywood are not there just because they have a certain ideology. If they’ve made it to the top, it’s because they are extremely talented. We need more than just good will. We need good people willing to forge exceptional skill.
I could not have said it better, nor even imagine it being said any better. I am going to send copies of your “open letter” to all my friends, who will also appreciate the wit, humor, and most importantly, the deadly accuracy in which you identify exactly what the problem is (as if there’s only one)!
I am most definitely NOT a prude, nor do I attend church regularly, however, this latest Hollywood “bunch” is WAY over the edge with their lack of morals and faith.
Thanks for the great read. — Ron
RESPONSE: You echo the response of many readers, who say they are not all religious, but follow this blog because we share precious principles. I see we are becoming a meeting point for issues run amok to partisan politics.
Stem Cell Research: A Battle for the American Mind
What a holy man you are, wringing your hands over a few potential lives while tens of millions of indisputably real humans starve daily and tens of thousands of others are killed in unjust wars for the profit of a few. Yes, your halo really glows.
— B. Harris
RESPONSE: Mr. (Ms?) Harris, I sense some irony in those words! Starvation and war are scandalous, as you say. They can and should be eliminated and we in the media could do a better job of making that known. I would be equally as upset as you seem to be, if I agreed with your distinction about “indisputably real humans.” You imply the identity of human embryos is still under observation. That is not the case. Science, not religion, tells us human embryos are the beginning of human life. Doctors on both sides of these life issues, and even politicians on both sides of the aisle, agree on this one: life begins at conception.
Almost seven years ago, my wife and I were in a bad car wreck at the hands of another driver. My car went into a roll and in the process of going through the windshield, the roof came in on my side and broke my neck in two places — the C6 and C7 vertebra, and lacerated my spinal cord, rendering me a quadriplegic. At the time of the accident I was 63-years-old and a chemically dependent diabetic.
I have been involved in the defeat of any budget that involves embryonic stem-cell research.
If my ability to walk depended on me killing a child, than I would rather be a quadriplegic. I have been there and back.
— Don (New York)
RESPONSE: Inspiring, Don. Thank you.
I totally agree and have been stating the same for years! As an aside, my mother died from Alzheimer’s three years ago and my uncle is struggling through Parkinson’s. I understand the need for a cure. The shift needs to become a focus on increased support for adult stem-cell research, not devaluing life itself.
Great article! Blessings.
RESPONSE: Linda, you allow me to bring up an important issue. Ethical prohibitions against embryonic stem-cell research (including cloning) should not keep us from aggressive research on other fronts. Besides the route of adult stem cells, some medical professionals are working in concert with respected ethicists to encourage research into a potentially licit and feasible procedure for creating human pluripotent cells without creating and destroying embryos. It is called “oocyte assisted reprogramming” or “ANT-OAR.” The idea behind it is to alter cloning techniques to produce pluripotent cells without creating an embryo. It works by changing the factors that guide gene expression before the nucleus of a body cell is joined to an enucleated egg. This group of professionals is advocating animal testing before pursuing the procedure with human cells, because there must be certainty that a human organism is not produced. There is an article on the homepage of this website if you want more information: www.westchesterinstitute.net.
As a frequent reader, I continue to marvel at your ability to distill complex issues into easy to understand and digestible portions. With respect to your stem-cell issue, I hope you can add this point to your next discussion. Leaving aside the morality issue for one moment, which as a Catholic I wholeheartedly agree with you, the primary question: is where is all the private money if this technology is so good? Venture capitalists fund medical technology like never before, but the market has apparently concluded that this stem-cell technology is so pie-in-the-sky that they won’t touch it. Miracle drugs, hair plugs, and medical devices of all stripes can find money but not this so-called crucial research. If you could patent, license and collect the proceeds to cure, as is claimed and promised, Alzheimer’s, paralysis, heart disease, cancer and all manner of maladies, wouldn’t you? Market capitalists don’t think it’s that viable a technology, and it’s their job to recognize such things. Should billions of taxpayer dollars be spent on a boondoggle that the market won’t touch? It would appear that there is an ulterior political motive at work on this issue, such as continuing to undermine the position of natural law advocates on life issues.
Keep up the good work.
— Michael (Buffalo, New York)
RESPONSE: Thanks for your kind words, Michael. Yes, there are lobbies in Washington even stronger than the ones representing the almighty dollar.
I am writing even though I know I may be in the minority and definitely opposed to you. However, you seem to be the type who can withstand disagreement and not get personally offended. So here goes...
Stem-cell research is one of the greatest opportunities we have been presented with probably since the invention of antibiotics. True, we are still in very early research stages, but initial results have been incredible. As you pointed out, advances in adult and umbilical cord stem cells have cured many diseases, but there are still a lot of conditions out there that could be helped with more research. Diabetes, Parkinson, and many others that destroy families, hope and life itself. If fatal stem-cell research is so horrible, then it won't work. Are you truly afraid that this method is going to turn into some sort of fountain of youth? Anyone injected with cells derived from a zygote will be cured of any disease and millions and millions of cells will be fertilized just to be harvested?
Wake up. Nothing is that good. Even if it were, you, in your position, must realize you cannot legislate morality. People will find ways to do things that others consider wrong. But is it your place to judge? Until you have spent hours and days watching someone you love waste away, you really don’t know. Even if you have experienced that, you really don't have the right to make those choices for someone else. That is between them and God, not them and you. There are many things I believe are wrong, that I don't believe should be laws against.
— Rita (Texas)
RESPONSE: Rita, glad you decided to write. I hope some of the messages from other readers and my responses have helped to clear up some of your questions. Regarding “legislating morality,” it is important to make some distinctions. You are right to say no law can make somebody “moral.” Nor is it the government’s role to establish one religion over another one. But there are many laws —thank God —that keep people from infringing on other people’s rights. Laws against murdering your neighbor protect a society from aggressors. That’s not legislating morality, but it turns out to be a very good and moral law. The issue of embryonic stem cells is about defending the weakest of the weak from the unscrupulous and shutting the door on the Brave New World that is already upon us.
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