Overcoming darkness with love: 3-18-15
Missouri's shameful death penalty: 3-20-15

TV discovers the Bible: 3-19-15

Each year for a long time (and sometimes still) the major news magazines would feature a skeptical cover story about religion timed to appear near Easter.

Bible-stackI'm reminded of what the great New Yorker writer and humorist Calvin Trillin, a Kansas City boy, once told me about how he got out of writing about religion: He started using such phrases as "the alleged resurrection." Editors quickly assigned him other fields.

At any rate, the broadcast media have picked up the theme, especially this year. As this New York Times piece notes, everyone seems to be getting into the religiously themed TV program act for the Easter/Passover season.

The problem, as that piece notes, is that often you find "somewhat cheesy re-enactments" of biblical stories in these TV extravaganzas. That's a kind description.

Indeed, I could hardly get through last year's History Channel series called "The Bible," for that very reason. And this year we get "A.D.: The Bible Continues." I wait with unbated breath.

Recently I read a story about the great American preacher Fred Craddock, who just died. Glen Miles, now pastor of Country Club Christian Church in Kansas City, was a young preacher at the time of this story. He writes: "One time I wrote him (Craddock) a note to ask for help. 'Fred, I’m working on improving my preaching. Is there a book or books you would recommend for me to read to help with this effort?' He wrote back, 'You might try the Bible.' That was it. One line! And, he was right too. The Bible, time and time again, has been the one place I have always returned whenever I’ve felt the need to renew and strengthen my work as a homiletician."

So watch all this TV stuff about the Bible if you want, but eventually you might try the Bible. As they say of the broadcast coverage of baseball, the pictures are better on radio.

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Missourians, including me, should be in deep mourning for the state of its criminal justice system. Late Tuesday evening the state executed a man with severe intellectual disabilities. His crime was horrendous -- killing a law enforcement officer. The state's retributive, vengeful justice was as bad or worse. I am grieved to live in a state that can do such barbaric acts in my name. Gov. Jay Nixon could have prevented this but he failed. It was not just a legal failure but an abject moral failure.

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P.S.: My latest National Catholic Reporter column now is online here.


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