Thursday, February 03 2005 @ 05:27 PM EST Contributed by: AIA
The parents of film star Keanu Reeves did not raise him with any religious affiliation, and the star of such blockbuster movies as Matrix and Speed hasn't felt the need to contemplate the possible existence of God yet. But the 40 year old actor said that his latest role as an exorcist in the supernatural thriller opening this week, Constantine, has caused him to contemplate the possible existence of heaven and hell.
In an interview during a 3 day promotional tour in Hong Kong, Reeves said, "I wasn't raised in any special denominations and I haven't taken on any so far. . . . I used to have doubts [about heaven and hell] and now I doubt less." He did not, however, say whether his doubt was assauged in favor of believing heaven and hell exist, or that they do not exist.
Reeves also co-starred with Al Pacino in the critically acclaimed cult film that received marginal success, The Devil's Advocate (1997), in which he plays a young attorney who accepts a job with Lucifer, played by Pacino. In that movie the supernatural was artfully protrayed in corporate legal scenarios pointing out the powerful lure of vanity as a sure path to damnation. Reeves has not said whether that earlier movie had any effect on his spiritual beliefs.
Friday, January 28 2005 @ 05:18 PM EST Contributed by: AIA
After some conservative Christians warned that popular cartoon character Sponge Bob Square Pants might be gay, Bob's creator, Stephen Hillenburg, felt compelled to defend his porous friend. Not true, he said, that Bob was gay or not gay -- he's asexual, "just an animated crustacean." Hellenberg told Reuters news agency that sexuality "doesn't have anything to do with what we're trying to do. We never intended to be gay. I consider them [Bob and his best friend, Patrick the Star Fish] almost asexual. We're just trying to be funny and this has got nothing to do with the show."
In a recent video Bob & Patrick are shown holding hands. In addition, Bob joined lots of other cartoon cronies in promoting tolerance for family diversity in a video by the non-profit We Are Family Foundation that includes "sexual identity" in their "tolerance pledge." Bob has been hugely popular among gay viewers as well.
Other cartoon characters sometimes accused of homosexuality include Scooby-Doo's Velma, Peanuts' Peppermint Patty, Sesame Street's Bert & Ernie, and Teletubby's Tinky Winky, who is purple and carries a purse.
Wednesday, January 26 2005 @ 12:20 PM EST Contributed by: AIA
Most people know what a "voice over" artist is, even if they're not familiar with the term. It's the persuasive, melodious voice that tells us what cereal to buy, introduces the television awards show, narrates the audio-book. Voice over artists are often actors or radio talk show hosts whose excellent enunciation and harmonious tones give them a special niche in the broadcast and recording business. This is no less true in the communications subcategory of Christian communications. Whether it is a radio advertisement on your favorite Christian music radio station, the narration of a child's interactive Christian game, or audio acting to bring a Christian novel to sound life, Christian voice over artists bring a professional communication value to a wide variety of Christian products.
Until recently, most voice over work was conducted by word-of-mouth and in a variety of geographical and market blocks with little general organization or promotion. In the last few years, one company, Interactive Voices, has emerged as the leading edge provider of professional voice over talent across the world and the various Christian production sectors. Interactive Voices notes that there is a "global need to hear the word of God through the media," and that quality voice over artists spread "the Good News of the Gospel through their work with their hearts and voices."
During the current outpouring of aid and missions work with the victims of the southeast Asian tsunami disaster, Interactive Voices artists have donated their time and talents to provide voice overs for aid appeals to such organizations as the Red Cross and World Vision.
According to Interactive Voices CEO David Ciccarelli, "Spreading the Good News is the core foundaiton of Interactive Voices. Our ministry is to bring Christians and all of God's people together, providing an opportunity for the word of God to be shared, proclaimed, and celebrated through audio recordings." Christian voice over artists provide the voices for audio books, interactive games, fund appeals, radio programs and advertisements, television, and missions work.
Interactive Voices is based in London, Ontario Province, Canada, and provides services and engages artists in Canada, the United States, Great Britain, and in other worldwide locations.
When the conservative Christian group Focus on the Family heard 2 years ago that Hollywood director Bill Condon was making a movie extolling the life and work of controversial sex researcher Alfred Kinsey, it decided on a specific strategy to frustrate the usual Hollywood response to conservative protests, that conservatives were just too uptight sexually to recognize the facts. Focus on the Family and other organizations such as Concerned Women for America did their homework. When the movie debuted last Friday, conservatives were ready with their documentation and research showing that Kinsey's infamous research was inaccurate, skewed, deliberately biased, and obtained in unethical ways, including encouraging respondents to engage in criminal child sex abuse to generate data on children's sexual experiences.
Focus on the Family spokeswoman Kristi Hamrick said, "For those who think of people of faith as poor, uneducated, and easy to command, I'm sure it would be amusing to see people praying outside of theaters. But," she continued, "we want to have a serious intellectual conversation about who Kinsey was and what he did."
Despite Hamrick's expectations, in general the media has reported the issue as a case of those who are sexually repressed blaming a courageous scientist who merely uncovered the fact that Americans are sexually promiscuous and engage regularly in behaviors condemned by religious people who are afraid of their own sexuality. The closest those associated with the movie will come to admitting Kinsey's shortcomings is a statement by biographer James Jones, author of Alfred C. Kinsey: A Public/Private Life. Jones explained that "in his eagerness to learn everything he could about human sexuality, Kinsey was a vacuum cleaner, and he had absolutely no standards about censorship or passing moral judgment."
This statement seems to be the best defense supporters can muster for justifying Kinsey's unethical and unscientific methodology, carefully documented and detailed by critics like Judith Reisman, author of Kinsey, Sex, and Fraud and Kinsey: Crimes and Consequences. Among the charges documented against Kinsey is that he based his statistics on homosexuality on skewed populations, including interviews with convicted felons in prison, and that his startling statements about infant and toddler sexual abilities were based on the meticulous journal records of a pedophile who abused multiple infant and toddler victims to provide data for Kinsey.
In the first 4 hours of retail sale on Tuesday, the DVD version of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ sold 2.4 million copies. Steve Feldstein, spokesman for Fox Home Entertainment, distributors of the DVD, said, "Just like there's no comparison for the film, there's no comparison for this performance." He said that The Passion is on track to sell as well as other Hollywood best-sellers like "Spider-Man" and "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, which both have sold to date over 15 million copies.
The movie was one of the year's biggest movies after advance speculation that it would bomb, ruin Mel Gibson's career, and lose millions of dollars. Instead it earned a place among the 10 top highest-grossing movies of all time with more than $370 million at the North American box office. Only "Shrek 2" beat it with $436.7 million.
The DVD retails for $24.99 and distributors expect that many people will buy multiple copies to give as gifts or as evangelism tools.
On the eve of an important court hearing in his child sexual abuse case, Sunday entertainer Michael Jackson, his attorney, and members of his family attended Sunday School at an African Methodist Episcopal Church in Los Angeles, talking with children about their favorite Bible stories. Trial watchers speculated that the visit was to boost his approval rating with the public as his trial approaches.
Jackson was raised as a Jehovah's Witness, and often in years past he would don disguises and go door to door with the Watchtower message in cities where he was performing. Jehovah's Witnesses are taught that all other Christian churches are false churches and the Watchtower is the only true church on the earth.
In recent months some close to him and his family have worried that he was being influenced to join the Nation of Islam (NOI), the African-American sect of Islam, by NOI officials, who provided him with body guards and security arrangements.
Although he's not saying who it's going to be, Matt Groening, producer of the hit animated classic The Simpsons, has told the public at a San Diego, California comic convention that one of the characters this season is going to be revealed as gay. The as-yet unscheduled episode will feature Homer becoming ordained on the Internet and performing same sex marriages in Springfield when the fictitious city legalizes same sex marriages.
Speculation poses a number of possible candidates, including Waylon Smithers, who is in love with Mr. Burns, the nuclear power plant boss, but he is already known to be homosexual. Others suggest either of Marge Simpson's twin sisters, Selma and Patty.
With the publication of its 2nd issue this week, Al-Maghtas (The Baptismal), produced in Amman, Jordan, by the independent journalist Daoud Kuttab, is serving the Christian Arab community spread throughout the Middle East. The magazine, which focuses on issues of mutual interest and agreement, deliberately avoids theological or doctrinal issues that might divide the Christian unity of readers. The 40-page glossy color magazine is published in Arabic. It includes interviews, features, photographs, and other articles.
In an article featured in the second issue, Rev. John Noor, the secretary of the bishops of Jordan, discusses the distribution of Arab Christians in the Middle East. He lists populations of between 11 and 15 million in the Middle East, 7-12 million in Egypt, 600,000 in Iraq, 165,000 in Jordan, 900,000 in Syria, 1.3 million in Lebanon, 50,000 in Palestine, and 130,000 in Israel. Noor estimates there are another 4 million in non-Middle Eastern countries.
Al-Maghtas is not denominational. It covers social and economic conditions facing Christian Arabs in the Middle East. The magazine hopes to strengthen the desire of the Christian Arab community to remain in the Middle East, despite strong pressure from both Muslim governments and the Israeli government that either explicitly or implicitly marginalize the needs of the smaller Christian Arab populations of their countries.
Philip Madanat, the magazine's editor, says the magazine's strength is in its exclusivity to the Christian community and its avoidance of theological issues that would divide readers: "We are extra careful to include individuals from all Christian denominations in our society and made a decision not to allow any discussion of Christian beliefs and theology so as not to cause anger to the followers of any denomination."
Just over 60% of Malaysia's population is Muslim, and they won't be seeing Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, the monumentally successful film of Christ's atonement, death, and resurrection, when it comes to Malaysia. Although it packed theaters throughout the Middle East and prompted a strong black market in pirated DVDs in Israel, the film will be off-limits to all but Christians in this, one of the most populous Muslim countries in the world.
The Malaysian government has determined that when the movie opens there next month, the 9% Christian population will be the only ones admitted to theaters showing the film. The Parliament determined last month that it would not ban the movie outright, although Malaysia often bans international films, but would instead restrict it to Christians. All Malaysian identity cards indicate the citizen's religious affiliation and will be used to select those admitted to the theaters.
Teresa Kok, a lawmaker with the Christian-dominated Democratic Action Party, said the decision contradicted the government's policy of promoting racial and religious tolerance and violated the federal constitution. She predicted that if the government were consistent, it would mean that Muslim-themed movies, currently available to anyone with the money for a ticket, should be restricted to viewing only by Muslims. She asked rhetorically, "Isn't this regulation against the spirit of a multi-racial society where mutual understanding of each other's belief and religion is most needed to promote unity among the people in the country?"
The event held in Atlanta is one of 24 gay rodeos in the United States and Canada that combine to form the International Gay Rodeo Association, which began in 1976. The annual grand championship will be held in October in Omaha, Nebraska.
The Atlanta gay rodeo was like most other rodeos and drew attendance from 1,400 people, including families and heterosexual couples. The only actual event that distinguished this rodeo from most was the wild drag race -- where contestants in drag competed at the traditional steer wrestling event.
A board member for the popular event, Dean Sepp, R.N., commented that gay rodeo breaks "the typical stereotype of how people perceive the gay community." It is also a place where homosexuals with like interests meet and often pair up. Several committed same sex couples say they first met at the Southern Spurs Rodeo.
The Lord's Servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will give them a change of heart leading to a knowledge of the truth
II Timothy 2:24-26