Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Media Review: Mass Confusion

I had been eagerly awaiting the premier of the pilot episode of Mass Confusion; Catholic TV's new sitcom starring a pair of Catholic couples and their children. The episode aired on Thanksgiving night, and is now available for viewing online. Below is the trailer for the pilot episode of Mass Confusion.

After seeing the preview, I was anxious and excited, but also a little hesitant to get my expectations up too high. Never before has Catholic TV attempted to produce a sitcom. Personally, I think it is a great idea! I think for far too long Catholics and Christians have been absent from the entertainment business. Being Catholic and being Christian is not about being a stick in the mud. As faithful Catholics and Christians we should be joyful, and our joy for life should be clear and frequently expressed for all to hear and see. We must engage the world and reach out to people where they are at, not hide from the world. We don't have to and we shouldn't evangelize in a monotone voice. Who wants to listen to boring radio or watch boring TV? Nobody! Unfortunately "Catholic" or "Christian" media has often been given the label, and often times rightly so, of boring or of poor quality. Just because a show has Christian values should not mean that the show lacks creativity, entertainment, or quality. It is possible to have an entertaining and funny show that at the same time promotes Christian values, but unfortunately the examples are few and far between. Why I remained hesitant about fully embracing this new show before seeing it is because I've never seen an entertaining and funny sitcom based on two Catholic families that faithfully practice their faith. It is a great idea and I want to support it, but the stars of the show are radio personalities, not professional actors, and they were basically working with no budget. Would this show look amateurish or would this look like a sitcom you might see on any given weekday night on NBC? I was anxious to find out.

I am happy to report that the pilot episode of Mass Confusion met and in many ways exceeded my expectations. I found it to be very entertaining and funny. The content was great and the plot was good. It didn't come off as a "Catholic" sitcom, but it was an entertaining sitcom that incorporated the Catholic life without coming off as preachy. The acting was actually much better than I anticipated for people who are not professional actors. The only critique that I had, and I mentioned this observation to one of the main actors Greg Willits, was that at times the audio wasn't the best; especially on a couple of dialogue scenes. Greg responded to me and acknowledged that there were some sound difficulties. Much of that had to do with the limited crew and lack of budget, but they did a very good job considering the limited resources. Despite the occasional audio problems, I saw enough in this episode to want more episodes. I think Mass Confusion is exactly the type of entertainment that families need. It is so hard to find quality family shows these days. I believe there is a big audience that wants this type of programming, but they have not ever been presented with a family friendly show that is actually entertaining and funny. I believe in this sitcom and I am confident if more people see it that they will want to see more too. However, it will not be a success without my and your help. Unless a great number of people watch this episode and contact the people at Catholic TV asking for more episodes, this sitcom will end after just one episode. Don't let that happen. I am asking each of my readers to do the following.

1) Watch the episode of Mass Confusion. Watch it multiple times if you love it like I do.
2) Share the link to the episode with all of your family and friends. If you are on social networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter, those are great places to share. If you are not on those sites, old fashioned emails work just fine.
3) Contact Catholic TV and express to them how much you enjoyed the show and that you are really hoping for more episodes. This is the kind of television that you have been looking for and this is the type of programming that families yearn for and need.
4) Pray for the success of Mass Confusion and other Catholic and Christian media.

There is very little entertainment options for families these days, but we are all partially to blame for that. If we would stop watching all these silly reality shows and other garbage and actually support good family friendly entertainment when it is presented to us such as Mass Confusion, we can and should expect more of the same type of TV programming. So again I ask you to do the four simple steps listed above.

After you have watched the episode, I encourage you to come back to this site and leave your comments. What did you think about Mass Confusion? What were your favorite parts? Who is your favorite character? Does anything in the episode bring back memories or remind you of yourself? Did you notice the sound issues or any other problems? I'd love to hear your thoughts. Thanks and God bless!

Watch the Mass Confusion Pilot episode here: http://www.catholictv.com/Mass-Confusion-Pilot.aspx

Contact Catholic TV: http://www.catholictv.com/utility/contact-us.aspx

Monday, November 14, 2011

Book Reflections: Death to the BCS: The Definitive Case Against the Bowl Championship Series

In case you were not already aware, I am a college football fanatic.  It is my favorite sport to watch.  Every fall weekend I am excited to watch college football.  I love virtually everything about college football.  There is one little problem with college football however, and that is the Bowl Championship Series or the BCS.  Fans from across the country argue every year over the BCS and what teams deserve to be in the BCS bowl games.  I agree that the BCS is not perfect, so I was very interested to read what these sports writers from Yahoo had to say.  What makes the BCS so bad and what playoff system would solve the problem so many fans have with the college football postseason?  I was hoping that this book would have all the answers.

Well, unfortunately this book does not have all the answers.  In fact, as far as I’m concerned it only brought up more questions.  I believe that the writers could have done a much better job making a case against the BCS and I found the tone of the book off-putting.  I guess I should have expected as much with the title, but it was clearly evident that the writers were angry; furious even at the BCS.  I got the clear impression that the BCS is one of the worst institutions in the world.  Worse and more corrupt even than the United Nations.  I understand the frustration, but I believe it hurt the credibility and effectiveness of the argument against the BCS.

I really wanted to love this book.  That’s the sad thing.  These writers were preaching to the crowd.  I wanted to support the destruction of the BCS and a move toward a playoff.  There are several things in this book that I found I was in agreement with the writers. 1) The BCS clearly discriminates against smaller schools.  It is virtually impossible for a school from a smaller conference to win the National Title and it is extremely difficult to even make it to one of the BCS Bowl games.  Teams from smaller schools have to go undefeated to even have a chance to play in a BCS bowl game.  2) I learned that most schools actually lose money when they go to a bowl game.  This is unacceptable.  Making it to a bowl game should be a reward, not a penalty.  Also, schools should not be required to sell a certain number of tickets to these bowl games or be forced to pay the tickets they are unable to sell.  This practice is ludicrous.  3) The authors endorse a 16 team playoff.  I like the idea, but believe it is highly unlikely.  I would be happy with an 8 team playoff, but I tend to agree that 16 would be the best solution.  I just have a feeling it won’t ever happen.  4) The writers made some fairly effective arguments to some of the common defenses that people in favor of the BCS use to justify not having a playoff.  Most of those who defend the current system have very weak positions that I’m not even sure they truly believe.  5) If it is truly just about the money, the writers make a fairly good argument that a playoff would bring in more money and arguably much more money.  Seems like a playoff is an obvious solution right?

I did find a couple of inconsistencies throughout the book.  I also was confused at times.  The writers were railing against bowl games in general and often used the absolute worst bowl games to defend their position.  Ok.  That has nothing to do with the BCS.  I thought they were really making a case against all bowls, but then in their proposal they suggested keeping the bowls in addition to the 16 team playoff.  So wait, let me get this straight.  You guys just finished telling me how awful the bowls are and that most of the bowls actually lose money, then you turn around and say that you support bowls in addition to the playoffs?  This contradiction I found very hard to look past.  It left me feeling like the writers did not fully think through their plan and that they were just so unhappy with the way things are now that they didn’t care if their plan contradicted much of what they just said was wrong.  I love the bowl games personally.  I might be one of the few, but I really enjoy seeing some of the smaller bowl games.  I do think that they have added too many bowls, but I enjoy the games.  I’d be happy to have bowl games in addition to a playoff, but it just seemed like a huge contradiction when the writers suggested this after basically ripping apart the bowl system.

I read this book as a college football fan.  I don’t care about the financial implications.  I don’t care about the bowl executives and who gets rich.  I don't care so much about TV contracts.  I don’t care so much about the politics in college football. I know that all this goes on behind the scenes and is what is truly running the decisions surrounding college football, but I don’ t care about all that.  I am a fan of college football.  I enjoy watching the game on the field.  I want a system that is fair to all FBS schools and gives all schools a chance at a National Title.  If not all schools are eligible, then why are they even playing at the FBS level?  I am a Ball State University alum and I follow the Ball State football team very closely.  99 out of 100 years Ball State will not have a team capable of beating the best teams in college football.  However, there is the possibility that a senior dominated team could shock the world and go on an amazing run.  This kind of Cinderella story where a team like Ball State could make the playoffs and make a run at the National Championship is missing in college football.  It would make for a much more exciting ending to the college football season and it would be a much more fair system for all schools.  It wouldn’t diminish the regular season and actually would probably make the regular season more interesting.  I support the 16 team playoff as a fan of college football.  Although I don’t necessarily like the approach of these writers and question the effectiveness of their arguments, we are in agreement that the BCS is not the best system.  College football fans deserve a better ending to the college football season.  I am hopeful that one day there will be a playoff in college football.  Until then, I will enjoy watching college football and argue with anyone who is willing to listen over who I think deserves to play in the National Championship and other BCS games every year.  I will continue to follow my Ball State Cardinals even though I know going into the season that our best hope is that we go to the Godaddy.com Bowl.  God bless College Football.
Death to the BCS: The Definitive Case Against the Bowl Championship Series

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Penn State Scandal

I listen to sports talk radio every weekday morning, so I am always aware of the top sports stories of the day.  However, the recent child sex abuse scandal at Penn State has been a national news story extending beyond the sports world.  I have heard a wide range of opinions.  There is no question that this is a very disgusting and sad story that brings out very intense and real emotions from people.  I have heard people call in to radio shows who had been abused as a child themselves.  I have heard Penn State alums call into radio shows with mixed emotions.  I have seen students riot in defense of their ex longtime coach Paterno.   Their anger is misguided.  While I don’t believe we should be vilifying Paterno, rioting in support of Paterno is just foolish and ignorant.  Paterno was fired as head football coach of Penn State this week; an action that when considering all the information in the Grand Jury Report had to be taken for the betterment of the University.  College kids often do dumb things that they later regret, so I hope that these students that have been rioting can step back and take a look at the bigger picture and realize that their actions are not justified.  There are far too many different areas that could be discussed regarding this Penn State scandal, but I want to focus on how we can process this story and take it as an opportunity to educate ourselves and others about the issue of child molestation, and how everyone can better react and respond when they have knowledge of such a situation.

What Happened?

In case you are unfamiliar with the Penn State Scandal, you can find the Grand Jury Report on the Sandusky case HERE.  One word of warning, the report is at times graphic and extremely disturbing.  There are 8 victims listed in the report, but there is reason to believe there may have been many more victims.  Most of the talk has been surrounding the story of victim #2, because witnessing the abuse was a Penn State Football grad assistant named McQueary.  McQueary was disturbed at the sight and called his dad.  His dad advised him to leave immediately and come home.  The next morning McQueary notified head football coach Joe Paterno.  Paterno passed the information on to his superior, the Athletic Director at Penn State.  Apparently the AD sat on the information and failed to report to the police this criminal activity.  Paterno failed to follow up on the situation.  There was known child sex abuse that failed to get reported to the police; therein lays the great controversy.

Where is the Compassion?

I think far too many people hearing and reading about this story are looking for as many people as possible to vilify.  There is no doubt that many people used very poor judgment at Penn State and those people should and are now being held accountable for their actions or inactions, but I am more interested in finding solutions to addressing the very serious problem of child molestation than I am in finding people to vilify.  I think that many look at this story with hatred in their heart.  I admit that the story is very frustrating and sad, and that it is natural for us to feel angry.  In fact, I believe we all should feel some sense of righteous anger, because there are so many innocent kids who are victims to a terrible crime, and there were adults with knowledge of the situation that could have done something to stop the abuse.  However, we must not harbor hatred in our heart for the people involved regardless of their actions or inactions.  I understand that this can sometimes be difficult, but harboring anger only makes the problem worse for everyone including ourselves.  We should have compassion first and foremost for the victims.  No child should have to be subjected to what these poor kids were subjected to, and we must not forget the victims in the story.  We should have compassion for the victims’ families.  We should have compassion for the players on the football team, who through no fault of their own have had to endure a torturous week of media scrutiny and have lost their football coach.  I also believe that we should have compassion for those at Penn State who displayed terrible moral judgment.  Their failure to report the incident to police seems unfathomable, but they still are human beings.  We also must pray for Mr. Sandusky who has very serious and sick problems.  No question that what he did was terrible.  Terrible!  It is one of the worst acts that any person can do, and it was not a single act but a series of acts.  No sane person can understand why he would do what he did.  However, he also is a human being and I do not believe it is productive for us to wish this man damned to Hell even if it appears to many that his actions warrant that justice.  In the end, God is the final judge.  We should pray for this man.  This in no way does or should diminish the compassion we have for the victims and their families.  We must also pray that the victims receive the support that they need from family, friends and the entire community.  With all this being said, I do think that there is some irony in the public’s reaction to this story. 

The Irony of the Public’s Reaction

I do not want to minimize the very real tragedy of this scandal or the severity of the allegations, and I want to emphasize that the victims in this case have my full support and deepest sympathies, but I contend that we accept child abuse every day in this country because we accept abortion, the killing of innocent children in the womb, as a legal “choice” for pregnant women.  Somehow the killing of a child is not nearly as disturbing to the majority of the public as the abuse of children who have been born.  I guess it is much easier to accept and understand an injustice when we can see a face and acknowledge the humanity of the victim.  Personally, I find both extremely disturbing.  Doctors who perform the abortions are seen by many as “compassionate” to the women who find themselves in difficult situations.  We can discuss the similarities between abortion and child abuse another day, but I did want to mention the irony in how we think of these two issues completely differently in our society. 

Lessons Learned

At the end of the day, there is no turning back the clock.  What has been done has been done.  However, the future is ahead of us, and we can learn from this tragically sad story.  We can let this story ignite hatred in our hearts, or we can look at this story with a compassionate heart.  We can see the terrible mismanagement of this situation as a chance to condemn people, or we can use it as an opportunity to educate ourselves on the appropriate response to sexual abuse of children and reflect on how we would react if we were in a similar situation.  It is easy to say now from the outside and after the fact that we would do the right thing to immediately stop the abuse, but are we absolutely certain that we would?   Sometimes the right thing to do is not always clear to us especially in the moment.  That is why it is so important that we property form our conscience.  Hopefully, with a properly formed conscience we will know what the right thing to do is when we encounter such situations.  We can become better people and a better society because of this story.  The only way we can accomplish this is if we look at this story with a compassionate heart and with a determined resolve to take the news of this story to motivate positive change in a messed up world.  My thoughts and prayers go out to all victims of child molestation, especially the victims in this case.  May God grant them peace.

God bless,


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Mississippi’s Vote on Amendment 26 Could Be Historic

On Tuesday, November 8, voters in the state of Mississippi will have the opportunity to vote on Amendment 26.  So what is the Amendment 26 and what is the significance of this vote?

Amendment 26: What it Says

Amendment 26: What it Means

That all human persons, no matter what stage in their development or the circumstances of their conception, will be protected and respected equally.  For those concerned about the mention of cloning, please understand that this does not mean that cloning is endorsed or encouraged.  In fact, Amendment 26 would in  effect ban human cloning.  For an explanation of why the word cloning was included in the Amendment, read HERE.

Amendment 26: Why This Would be Historic

Mississippi would be the first state to adopt a Personhood Amendment.  Amendment 26 would effectively end the practice of abortion in Mississippi.  It may help to eventually lead to the overturning of Roe vs. Wade.  Mississippi was one of the last states to abolish slavery and give black skinned people the equal rights that they deserve.  Ironically, just a few decades after the civil rights movement, Mississippi is now widely considered one of the most pro-life states, and if Amendment 26 is passed, Mississippi would be leading the way to addressing the greatest civil rights issue of our current day; abortion.

Amendment 26: Answering the Critics

Of course when there is something as important as defining the term "person" and taking action to protect the most vulnerable children in the womb, there will be fierce criticism from opponents.  They know that this Amendment could have far reaching consequences.  Those who support abortion don't want to think about when life begins or at what moment a human life deserves rights.  The common tactic to dissuade voters on Amendment 26 is to use scare tactics.  They use the same scare tactics to try to dissuade pro life people to pray at abortion clinics.  I have bad news for the abortion supporters; pro-lifers are here to stay and we are procreating; we actually celebrate and welcome life.  Below are some of the arguments against Amendment 26 and the rebuttals to those baseless arguments.

For more information on this most important vote in Mississippi on Amendment 26, please visit this website: VOTE YES TO 26

If you or someone you know lives in the state of Mississippi, please educate them on this issue and urge them to vote YES on Amendment 26 on Tuesday.  Forward them a link to my blog.  Share this post on your Facebook or Twitter.  Please help me get the word out.  We can end abortion in this country.  Amendment 26 is a great start to accomplishing that goal.  Thank you for educating yourself on this most important issue. I will leave you with a video of an OBGYN in Mississippi who supports Amendment 26.

God bless,