Looking up at the television screen in this airport lounge — somewhere in the Middle East — I am reading a very bold statement in English subtitles: “One World, One Dream.” It is the brilliant motto of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games.
You’ll forgive me if I wonder aloud which New York advertising agency was paid big money by Big Red to come up with this. It’s just too perfect.
China is sticking us with the ultimate guilt trip, and it's using our own words and values. It is asking us all to close our eyes and just get along already. No questions to the regime at this time, please. That would be insensitive. After all, the great replacement-virtue in secularized Western society — inclusiveness — demands always smiling and nodding the head in the face of everyone else’s ideas, no matter what these are.
What’s important is that we can all still be together as one world. Hmm … that doesn’t happen by dreaming.
Right now, I'm in a Muslim country ... and it has made me question the realism of such a dreamy motto.
I’m here, independently of FOX, to advise some American filmmakers. These men and women believe art also has a mission of peace. They want to lace big screen entertainment with a message of universal truth. And as I have witnessed in these days, they are risking treasure, security and reputation in this pursuit.
In art form they will say this: some ideas are good and others are bad, always and everywhere.
I promise you not everyone in Tinseltown, nor everyone in these parts of the world, will cheer. When is the last time you have seen a film that sheds light on the checkered reality of some sectors of Islamic culture? Have you seen a Hollywood release that challenges religiously-motivated violence in our world today? How long has it been since you have seen a movie star suggest human dignity, honesty, respect for women, religious tolerance, forgiveness, and peace are universal goods that belong to humanity, and not just to the West.
I don’t want to give specifics about this film because it’s not yet time. That time will come.
For now, I want to share with you some big-picture reflections I have been mulling over in these days.
• For various reasons, Islamic culture in too many parts of the world continues to be a breeding ground for human rights abuses.
• New data show Muslims are now more numerous than Catholics (1.3 billion to 1.1 billion) and are gaining on all Christians as a whole. Generally, Muslims in the Middle East have lots of babies. Christians and Jews in the West don’t.
• Given the globalization of which we are now witnesses, a world of peace, mutual respect, liberty, and cultural and religious respect is only possible if young Muslims in the Middle East, supported by all of us in the West, challenge and improve upon their cultural and religious heritage.
• Is this possible? Yes. I think it will require a long-term and multi-faceted approach.
• One of these facets must be work in the media. Private industries and government institutions should be using the mass media as a vehicle to transport sensible ideas. The youth in the towns where I have been in the Middle East are listening to American music, watching American movies, playing American video games, and surfing the Internet. What if our media stars were to invest their talent in this big-picture project, each in their own way?
So much more to talk about, but we’ll leave it for another day. In any case, I would love to hear your thoughts on how to bring our world closer together, for real, not just in dreams.
God bless, Father Jonathan
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P.S. This weekend I will begin a little book tour to promote my new book, The Promise: God’s Purpose and Plan for when Life Hurts. I would love to see some of you along the way. You can see my itinerary at www.fatherjonathan.com Also, the book should be in book stores by Monday or Tuesday. If you choose to purchase a copy, please drop me a note and let me know what you think. I wrote it for you.
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