In spring 2011, on my way to co-host a pilgrimage in the Holy Land, I decided to catch one of the in-flight films being offered. This particular film was of interest because it was all the rage in Christian circles at the time. It was especially popular among evangelicals and had gained as much interest and accolades in those circles as the film “Fireproof” did a few years earlier.
“Fireproof” had more than its share of weak and really sappy moments because of performers who, at times, were downright painful to watch. Their lack of experience on the big screen was glaringly evident, but since the message on marriage was so important, I thought the movie deserved support.
On that long 13-hour flight to Tel Aviv, I was hoping and praying at least for a similar reaction to the film I was about to view, if not something even a little bit better. Now, I am not a movie critic, but I don’t think you have to be Leonard Maltin to spot weak performances on screen. And the acting in this film for me was so forced and too sugary-sweet for real life.
About 20 minutes into the film, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I yanked out the headphones and powered down the screen. I was frustrated to the point of anger.
Was this the best we Christians could do to offer a solid message concerning the importance of faith-filled families and lessons on growing through suffering? Why do we have to justify supporting really bad productions when Christianity — and more specifically the Catholic Church — has so much to offer the world?
Do we really think that mediocre movies are going to stand up to the glitz and glamour of slick Hollywood productions, not to mention the onslaught of anti-Godly messages that make their way into our homes in cleverly packaged reality shows, talk shows or situation comedies?
These were just a few of the questions I pondering on my way to Israel. The pondering — or more like the fuming —made the 13-hour flight seem more like 26 hours.
So, you can imagine my delight when I read and heard the comments of former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), who spoke at this summer’s Family Leadership Summit in Iowa. He delivered a strong message that hopefully will serve as a wake-up call to the Christian and overall conservative community.
Santorum is now running EchoLight Studios and gave his take on why we are losing the culture war:
“For us to sit here and think we are going to win the country back politically when the culture continues to show your children when they watch that people like them are weird, people that hold your values are bigoted and hateful — it is no wonder young people overwhelmingly are supporting the other side because they don’t know the truth ... I say to you, can’t we make God beautiful? Why can’t we tell the truth, the good, and the beautiful in a way that is compelling, entertaining and inspiring?”
Santorum also stressed that if we expect to be a successful country, we need a culture that is revitalized. We can’t be bunker Christians hiding from the world. While we need to learn how to handle the media in our homes, we also need to challenge the media by responding with better media.
It will be interesting to see the films and other types of efforts that come out of EchoLight Studios. I have high hopes for this company.
On a personal and somewhat selfish note, I am also praying one of Santorum’s projects will be done in time for that next long and tiring overseas flight.
Teresa Tomeo is the host of “Catholic Connection,” produced by Ave Maria Radio and heard daily on EWTN Global Catholic Radio and Sirius Channel 130.