Sunday, September 19, 2004
when actors find God
I have a secret love.... Sunday morning tv. It used to be Saturday morning when I was a kid, but that was when there were cartoons on worth watching. I just can't get into "today's" cartoons. Makes me feel old, actually.
But now it's Sunday morning that I love, the exact day and time I used to find boring as all hell when I was kid. Only the reasons I love it now are the very reasons I hated it then; religious programming. I am absolutely fascinated watching all these big churches on tv, and I watch with glee as "The Word" is preached using various techniques for getting you to believe his or her particular brand of religion.

Remember when I talked about how I was glued to the tv when Kirk Cameron (of Growing Pains fame) was on a Christian program, discussing his website and video? Well, today it was a different celebrity. When I turned to the Christian channel I found a clip showing a whole bunch of kids on skateboards and BMX bikes doing stunts. The clip went on to show all their skills on ramps, sidewalks and rails. Then it showed a circle of kids holding hands and praying before they performed all these terrific skills. And then they cut back to scenes of all these kids doing all these crazy routines, and interlaced snippets of interviews with the kids talking about how they had their troubles lifted when they put their life and trust into God's hands. It was fascinating! But THEN it showed an actor hanging out with all these kids, partaking in the fun and hijinx, and pinching their cheeks, and just generally joking around. It was Stephen Baldwin.

Now, I enjoyed Stephen Baldwin in The Usual Suspects, but having seen him on the reality show, Celebrity Mole, I couldn't stand him "in real life". He was *obnoxious* in the biggest way, and it totally made me think he was a complete jerk. I believe he even talked opened about his religious convictions on the show, which in a way I kinda admired.

Anyway, after the clip showing these skateboarders and bike riders the show ("The Hour of Power") cut back to the giant church, with Stephen Baldwin and the minister Robert Schuller. Stephen said that these kids used their athletic talents to attract other kids to the word of God. He said that they were paid minimal amounts of money to travel the country, visiting churches nation-wide, and that after putting on a show for the kids they would then talk to them about their beliefs.


I don't quite know what to make of it. I mean, it was nice to see Stephen Baldwin not being obnoxious, something I wasn't sure was possible. But after that whole piece, it cut to a recording of the minister doing a little one-on-one kind of talk with the home viewers (away from the huge church was in a room somewhere). Basically he was asking for money. He talked about how the ministry needed money in order to cover the costs of the show (we'll ignore that they have sponsors and therefore commercials to help offset the costs) and that he relied on donations by "friends" like me to pay for the show to be on the air. This is where I always get suspicious... when religious shows start asking for money. While I understand that indeed high costs are incurred, I think we have all heard stories of the wealth and corruption of some ministries. (This also brings me to notice that you never see any Jewish programming like this...hmm..)

But hey, that's all part of what fascinates me with this kind of programming.... watching the unbending faith of people and watching the 'ministry machine' hard at work. Who knows, maybe one day a good ministry, like si's, will be on tv. Now that would be something to tune into..... :-)