Archive for the ‘mass media’ Category
By Kathleen Naab
ROME, JAN. 13, 2012 (Zenit.org).- The director of the “Church and Sport” section at the Pontifical Council for the Laity admits that the “Tim Tebow phenomenon” has heightened his interest in the NFL playoffs.
Legionary of Christ Father Kevin Lixey works in the Roman Curia helping the Church make a contribution to the world of sport, with the aim of promoting a sports culture suitable to the integral development of the individual.
Those familiar with the NFL — and even those who are not — might have heard of Tebow for more than his unique style as a quarterback. His outward expressions of his Christian faith are being talked about by all sorts of commentators, in the world of American football and beyond. Though certainly not the only athlete to publicly express his faith on the field, Tebow is drawing more attention than usual. We asked Father Lixey what he thinks about that.
ZENIT: Do you see Tim Tebow’s public expression of faith as a positive or negative phenomenon? Certainly it is drawing a lot of attention to Christ, in one form or another …
Father Lixey: The hype over Tim Tebow is certainly an interesting phenomenon in an ever more secularized world. I consider it something very positive. Even at the college level, while quarterback for the Florida Gators during the 2009 Bowl Championship Series title contest, Tebow wrote “John 3:16” on his eye black. The Palm Beach Post reported that 92million people Googled the verse following the game … impressive!
But, it is not the mere public expression of faith — as Tebow drops a
knee to give thanks after a touchdown, or prays with other players who include teammates and opponents after the game — that is attracting people; it is his entire person.
I had the chance to speak with the offensive coordinator who coached Tim at the Florida Gators. He said he was a very unique player who was spiritually on another stratosphere with respect to the rest of the team. Yet, Tim was respected by his teammates because he was genuine. And this is the point I would like to touch on. As one reporter noted (Chuck Klosterman, Dec. 6, 2011): “This, I think, is what makes Tebow so maddening to those who hate him: He refuses to say anything that would validate the suspicion that he’s fake (or naïve or self-righteous or dumb).”
While Tebow certainly sticks out for these external manifestations of his faith, not to mention his unorthodox playing style as an NFL quarterback, his personal background is also not typical for an NFL quarterback. It is a real “Cinderella” story — although those who have to tackle Tim would not consider him a Cinderella.
First of all, Tim Tebow was born in the Philippines to American parents who were serving as Baptist missionaries, as his father is a pastor. His mother, while pregnant, suffered a life-threatening infection and was advised to have an abortion but she decided not to, and both Tim and his mother survived a difficult pregnancy. Another unique aspect is that Tim, like his four older siblings, was home-schooled. Thanks to legislation that was passed in Florida in 1996, home-schooled students were allowed to compete in local high school sporting events.
ZENIT: OK, but does prayer really have a place in football? Surely God doesn’t care about who wins the Super Bowl — or does he?
Father Lixey: Judging from his public statements, Tebow is one of the few and most prominent religious athletes to recognize that God does not care about the score of football games. Tebow considers his missionary and philanthropic work much more important than football, but at the same time, possible, because of it. We all too often equate prayer with only asking good things from God, where prayer is only used “to obtain something” i.e., victory, health, or a miracle. The Catechism reminds us that prayer is also “the raising of one’s mind and heart to God” and that we “we must remember God more often that we draw breath.”
Certainly there are moments and places more conducive to prayer, but there is no reason that all religious manifestations be entirely banned from the public square. These external manifestations of one’s beliefs are impressive precisely because they are public. Just as Christians once fell to their knees at the sound of the Angelus bell to remember the Incarnation, or just as the cab driver makes the point of getting out of his car to bow down toward Mecca in prayer, I see no reason why a professional football player cannot offer a prayer of thanksgiving or point to heaven instead of doing a lewd victory dance in the end zone.
Nonetheless, these external manifestations can make some people feel uneasy and it is not certain how long this will be “allowed” in the NFL. The Danish Football Federation complained to FIFA for permitting members of the Brazilian national to gather together in prayer after their victory of the 2009 Confederations Cup. FIFA’s president responded by warning that any religious manifestation would not be permitted in the 2010 World Cup.
ZENIT: Along those lines, the Tebow “phenomenon” comes at a time when the U.S. bishops are particularly concerned about religious freedom. Is reaction to Tebow’s public expression of faith a sign that their concern is warranted? Or misplaced? Or is religious freedom on the playing field one thing, and in the public square something else?
Father Lixey: Pope Benedict XVI is also particularly concerned about religious freedom and touched upon this point Monday in his address to members of the diplomatic corps, noting: “In many countries Christians are deprived of fundamental rights and sidelined from public life; in other countries they endure violent attacks against their churches and their homes.”
Obviously the Holy Father was not speaking about the FIFA decision to sideline religion. But it does raise the question: “What is the public square today?” Is it literally that quaint square in front of a town hall somewhere in New England, where perhaps it is no longer permissible to display a Nativity scene? Or is it the Internet, a person’s desk at work, or the professional football stadium?
I think many are impressed with Tim Tebow’s courage in professing his faith for he certainly is mocked for it. When he received flack for doing a pro-life ad with “Focus on the Family” that ran during the 2010 Superbowl, he said: “I know some people won’t agree with it, but I think they can at least respect that I stand up for what I believe in.” This is all Tim is asking. Whether it is standing up, or taking a knee, for what he believes in, many people do respect this, that he stands up for what he believes. Yet, others become infuriated as they consider Tebow guilty of breaching the line that all are supposed to respect, namely, that which separates the secular from the religious, the holy from the profane, the sacred from the everyday.
ZENIT: As Catholics, what can we learn from this situation — from Tebow himself, perhaps, and from the reactions he’s causing?
Father Lixey: Blessed John Paul II once reminded a group of top professional soccer players: “The eyes of sports fans throughout the world are fixed on you. Be conscious of your responsibility! It is not only the champion in the stadium but also the whole person who should become a model for millions of young people, who need ‘leaders,’ not ‘idols.’ They need men who can convey to them the zest for challenge, a sense of discipline, the courage to be honest and the joy of unselfishness.”
I believe Tim Tebow is trying to live up to these words of John Paul II and his example can prompt other athletes to be “leaders” and not idols, being a model on and off the field, especially of the corporal works of mercy. As Tim shares in his own words: “When I was a student at the University of Florida, I found great joy in taking time to encourage children suffering from cancer in hospitals or visiting a prison or juvenile detention center, or doing mission work with my family at Uncle Dick’s Orphanage in the Philippines. … Football is so popular (that) it enables an athlete like me to establish a platform for doing good deeds … to take this experience to an even greater level of outreach and influence. … After my professional career, I plan on giving my life full time to this outreach.”
That’s not a bad role model for the youth. … It’s not a bad example for us to follow either.
By Genevieve Pollock
ALBANY, Georgia, JAN. 16, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Thousands of men are answering the call to rediscover God’s plan for fatherhood, inspired by a new movie, “Courageous,” due to be released on DVD on Tuesday.
The film, which debuted in theaters Sept. 30, follows four men striving to fulfill their mission “to serve and protect,” both as law enforcement officers and fathers.
Stephen Kendrick, producer and co-writer of the film, told ZENIT that every day he sees some 200 e-mails from “people sharing how the movie has impacted, inspired and blessed them.”
“The stories they share are so heartfelt and moving,” he said. “Countless dads are now reaching out to win the hearts of their children.”
Kendrick continued: “One man realized he needed to step up and reconnect with the daughter he’d abandoned.
“Many have chosen to forgive their dads.
“Wives are saying that ‘my husband was a good dad, but now he’s becoming a great dad after seeing this movie.’
“Couples heading for divorce have reunited and said that they must resolve to leave a legacy of faithfulness to their children like the men in the movie. We thank God for this!”
As policemen, the main characters must team up against gang members and drug dealers to protect the community. Yet even as they battle evil with their guns and Tasers, they learn to use Scripture to fight the demons within in order to become the men of integrity their families need.
“There is so much in Scripture about what fatherhood means, but most men have not taken time to search it out and then live it out,” Kendrick stated. “‘Courageous’ shows it to them in living color.”
He continued: “It is so incredible to see how a message about the importance of strong fatherhood is so deeply resonating with audiences.
“The issue of fatherhood touches the core of who we are. Millions of people have seen this movie and have gone on the emotional roller-coaster of laughter and tears as they watch five men trying to figure out what it means to be a great dad.”
For actor Ken Bevel, who portrayed the cop Nathan Hayes, the movie was an opportunity to “help serve in turning the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers.”
He explained to ZENIT: “As I look at the consistent decline of families and the minimal involvement of fathers in our communities, my heart is challenged — challenged to the point of action. So, when God provided the opportunity to address biblical fatherhood through film, I was humbled that he would allow me to be used in such a task.”
This role, Bevel said, “caused me to examine my own life and my role as a father.”
He added: “I asked myself the question, ‘Am I being completely intentional about fatherhood and leading my children to the Lord?’ Unfortunately the answer was no. So, ‘Courageous’ has also challenged me to spend more time in Bible study with my family, while praying for wisdom in leading my children to the Lord.”
Kendrick expressed the hope for this “life change,” not only for all who worked on the movie, but also for all who view it.
The film’s release on DVD will allow its viewing by greater audiences. Parishes, ministries and other groups are encouraged to show the movie and utilize the corresponding resources to help effect this life-changing experience.
One group, the Philadelphia-based Fatherhood and Leadership Initiative, sponsored a showing of the movie that drew the players of two football teams with their fathers, in addition to other families.
Jim Gabriele, one of the group’s founders, told ZENIT that “the response was tremendous.” People were moved not only by the film, he said, but also by “the underlying message of love of Christ and faith in him as the foundation of a man’s most important vocation — his family.”
“This movie clearly brings people together,” added Gabriele, “and challenges men in particular to be men of the kingdom, the Godly husbands and fathers we are all called to be.”
He added that the “widespread release of the movie provides a tremendous opportunity to put the emotion we all felt at the end of the movie to practical use in our daily lives.”
“It is an unbelievably easy tool to use for ministry, and the producers have provided outstanding resources to bring the movie to life via Bible studies, small group sessions, etc.” Gabriele noted.
He continued: “Men are notoriously hard to reach in ministry, but the ability to invite men to an engaging movie, followed by structured discussions and the ability to delve more deeply into their faith and how it applies to marriage and fatherhood is an incredible gift.”
He revealed to ZENIT that his group will be sponsoring an eight-week study series, available through the Internet as well, on scriptural fatherhood.
Kendrick expressed the hope that many of this generation of men will see “Courageous” and “learn that the role of father is irreplaceable.”
He underlined the hope that the audience will see that God created fatherhood “to introduce the next generation to what their loving Heavenly Father is like: a loving Provider, a strong Protector, an honorable Authority, a great Example, a wise Teacher, and an intimate Friend.”
The producer continued: “We hope that men get a vision for this and begin to step up with courage and begin to lead their families by example as God intended. This will positively affect the next generation in countless ways.”
“We produced a movie,” he concluded. “But only he can change a heart. To him alone be the glory!”
Canadian Study Calls for Greater Responsibility in Use
By Father John Flynn, LC
ROME, OCT. 21, 2007 (Zenit.org).- An explosion in media technology means both parents and society need to be more alert to the dangers children face. This was the warning contained in the Oct. 15 report entitled “Good Servant, Bad Master: Electronic Media and the Family,” published by the Ottawa-based Vanier Institute of the Family.
Author Arlene Moscovitch reviewed Canadian and international research on the media, and in her report she acknowledged the positive side of the media, which is a useful source of education and entertainment. As well, new technologies also help families stay in contact with greater ease.
At the same time the report warned of some more negative consequences.
— Heavy users of electronic media in all age groups spend less time interacting with partners, children and friends.
— Researchers fear that excessive exposure to media among very young children may lead to problems of attention control, aggressive behavior and poor cognitive development.
— With growing problems of obesity and diabetes among children, it is a concern that the vast majority of food advertisements during children’s programs are for foods high in sugar, salt and fat.
— Many parents worry about children being online for long periods and the kinds of things to which they are exposed.
Moscovitch noted that according to the Consumers Electronics Association of America, the average U.S. home now boasts 26 different electronic devices for communication and media. In Canada only 1% of the population owned a DVD player in 1998, now they are present in 80% of households.
Also in Canada, 94% of young people have Internet access at home. Half of grade 11 students, and surprisingly even 20% of those in Grade 4, have their own Internet-connected computer, separate and apart from the family.
Mobile phones are used by 44% of young Canadians to surf the Internet, and 22% have webcams.
Citing data from a time use survey carried out in 1995 by the government body Statistics Canada, the report noted that Canadians aged 15 and over spent just over 2 hours each day watching television, compared to more than 3 hours in 1998.
Radio use remained relatively stable between 1998 and 2003, at about 3 hours a day, but 30-45 more minutes a day is going to telephone usage, and time spent on the Internet has risen.
A study of 5,000 youth carried out in 2005 by the Media Awareness Network found that on an average weekday, Canadian students spend — sometimes simultaneously — 54 minutes instant messaging; 50 minutes downloading and listening to music; 44 minutes playing online games; and only 30 minutes doing school work.
Overall, in Canada and the United States many young people are spending less time with print and television media, and more time plugged into interactive media like mobile phones, video games and Internet-connected computers. Moreover, this media activity is increasingly done in their own bedrooms, rather than in communal family spaces.
Infants at risk
One of the main forebodings in the Vanier Institute’s report is how very young children are exposed to the media. Moscovitch cited a recent study that showed 50% of U.S. infants and preschoolers live in homes with three or more TVs, 97% have clothes or toys based on media characters and three-quarters share their living space with a computer.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time at all for children under the age of two years, yet a 2003 study of the media habits of U.S. children from birth to six years of age found that almost 70% of children under two years spend on average two hours every day watching either television shows or videos. In fact, 26% of toddlers under the age of two had a TV set in their bedroom.
Other recent reports confirm the deleterious effect of television for the very young. On May 27, the Boston Globe reported that a study by pediatric researchers found that about 40% of 3-month-olds watch television or videos for an average of 45 minutes a day, or more than five hours a week.
The study was based on 1,009 random telephone interviews with families in Minnesota and Washington, and published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine journal.
This early exposure can have a negative impact on an infant’s developing brain and put children at a higher risk for attention problems and diminished reading comprehension, according to the researchers.
Turning to older ages, the Vanier Institute reported that media usage evolves to become more active and socially oriented. A 2005 study of young Canadians carried out by the Media Awareness Network found that among young people, 28% have their own Web site, 15% have online diaries and blogs, and that by grade nine, 80% of all teens are listening to music online and instant messaging daily.
By late 2006, 55% of all U.S. online teens were using social networks such as MySpace and Facebook, and 55% had created online profiles.
The dangers of social networking sites was confirmed by a report dated Oct. 14, published by the Pew Internet and American Life Project.
The study entitled “Teens and Online Stranger Contact” reported that 32% of online teens had been contacted by someone with no connection to them or any of their friends, and 7% of online teens say they have felt scared or uncomfortable as a result of contact by an online stranger.
Those who have posted photos of themselves and created profiles on social networking sites are more likely to have been contacted online by people they do not know, according to the study.
Among teens who have been contacted by someone they do not know, girls are significantly more likely to report feeling scared or uncomfortable as a result of the contact compared with boys.
Many parents, the Vanier Institute report observed, are uneasy about the media’s impact on their children. Apprehensions include not knowing who their children are in contact with, what sort of songs they listen to, and if they are falling prey to temptations such as online gambling and pornography. Moreover, many parents are unskilled in the technologies being employed by their children.
Parents can, however, influence their children’s media habits. The report recommends a number of steps.
— Limit the number of individually owned devices and move them out of bedrooms and into public spaces.
— Limit the times at which they can be used. For example, don’t have the television on all the time, particularly during meals.
— Limit also the total amount of time kids spend with their devices on a daily basis.
— Make rules about giving out personal information or visiting certain sites on the Internet.
— Help children, particularly those who are younger, to distinguish between fantasy and reality by talking with them about the content they encounter in the media.
— Discuss with children their experiences on the Internet and ask them about the games they play, the sites they create and the way they interact socially.
The report also recommended that parents help instruct their children in the values they need, and not just leave it to chance through the values that the media communicates. By doing this young people will be more prepared to critically judge the information and goals coming from the media.
“Users should practice moderation and discipline in their approach to the mass media,” recommends No. 2496 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. “They will want to form enlightened and correct consciences the more easily to resist unwholesome influences.”
A responsibility that becomes more indispensable than ever in this age of rapidly developing media technologies.