Professor Media Matters

I am a media professional with 6 years as a TV producer and reporter, and college professor in the field of Communications. I am also a Conservative with a passion for pop culture. This will be my attempt to put the "me" in media. It will be my take on movies, TV, books, magazines, newspapers, the Internet and all that is the worldwide media.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Exodus 35

…“and He has filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills – to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic crafts.” (Exodus 35: 31-33, emphasis mine.)
I have been reading in Exodus for my daily devotionals. A significant portion of the book is devoted to the design and décor of the tabernacle and artifacts. My first response to these chapters is always this is sort of boring, I wonder why it is included in Scripture. Maybe it is to give us a glimpse of what the splendor of heaven will be like. After all, if God puts this much care and detail into an earthly structure, how much more glorious it will likely to be in heaven.
I do like the verses, like the ones above, that acknowledge the creative people who poured their talents into the tabernacle. It is encouraging to know that God endowed these artists with their skills and values and recognizes their work.
I like to think of myself as a creative person, though not with my hands. My creativity is more along the lines of writing, speaking and performing. My wife, however, is very creative with her hands. She is crafty. She knits. She is an excellent crocheter and has perfected her skills over the last 27 years. Her crocheted items are always given as gifts or donated to worthy causes. These verses could have been written about her, if she lived during the time of the book of Exodus:
“Every skilled woman spun with her hands and brought what she had spun – blue, purple or scarlet yarn or fine linen. And all the women who were willing and had the skill spun the goat hair.” (Exodus 35:25-26.)
On a side note I find it interesting that the Bible notes that women did the spinning. Evidently no men were involved in, or skilled at, this creative endeavor. That stereotype still exists to some extent as few men today are known for their knitting or crocheting skills. My wife has tried to teach me to crochet and honestly, I can’t get the hang of it. I don’t have the skill or the patience for it.
But God did have the skill and the patience for building and designing a breathtaking tabernacle on earth. And He used people to do it. God endowed men with creative gifts that He valued and then gave these individuals the wisdom and skill to match His design down to the very last detail. That’s encouraging to me and helps me see beyond what might be a boring section of Scripture. Exodus, and my wife’s example, remind me that ultimately He created these artistic gifts and wants us to use them for His glory.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

My thoughts on the election

I feel a tremendous sense of grief. My body hasn’t processed it yet. It is still welled up inside of me. There is a restless quality to it. And fear. Fear for the future. Fear for Israel. Fear for the unborn. Fear for the rights of gun owners. The list is endless.
It’s not that Romney was my guy. He wasn’t. He wasn’t even my first or second choice. I voted for Senator Santorum in the California primary election. It is more that Obama is definitely not and never will be my guy. For where we are in history, for where we are morally, for where we are fiscally, reelecting President Obama is a disaster for our nation. Don’t believe me? Time will tell. It may not take much time actually.
My wife and I were very involved in the 2008 presidential campaign. We were fond of Governor Palin. We shared a kinship with her. We both have special needs children and avoided the temptation to abort. She is likeable and a solid conservative. We went to campaign rallies, donated money, wore t-shirts, displayed bumper stickers, planted yard signs, wrote letters to the editor. I spent hundreds of hours in prayer for her campaign and the presidential election. As you know, it didn’t turn out so well.
2008 was an exhausting and discouraging experience. This time, it was less exhausting but even more discouraging. This time, I don’t think our nation will survive.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

ACCEPTING CONFORMITY

THEME: In a new environment, people sometimes go to great extremes in order to be accepted. Part of this acceptance process can involve conforming to society and losing your own identity and individuality.

SYNOPSIS: This is a mime sketch. An outsider approaches a circle of friends, eager to be accepted. They teach the outsider the dos and don'ts of their group. At first he follows their lead but later feels stifled by the strict and conforming guidelines. In the end, the outsider realizes that true friends will accept him for who he is and not require that he conform to their liking.

A CIRCLE OF ODD NUMBERED FRIENDS, ARMS ENTWINED, IS LAUGHING AND HAVING A GOOD TIME. AN OUTSIDER SEES THE GROUP AND HOPES IT CAN CURE THE LONELINESS HE FEELS. HE APPROACHES, SMILES AND GESTURES THAT HE'D LIKE TO JOIN. RELUCTANTLY THEY AGREE.

THE OUTSIDER IS EXCITED AND SENSING HIS ENTHUSIASM, THE GROUP TEACHES HIM THEIR SPECIAL HANDSHAKE. THE OUTSIDER PROVIDES AN EVEN NUMBER SO EVERYONE HAS SOMEONE TO SHAKE WITH. THE OUTSIDER SLOWLY LEARNS THE DETAILED HANDSHAKE THAT COMES AUTOMATICALLY TO THE OTHER MEMBERS. AFTER A LITTLE FRUSTRATION, THE OUTSIDER FINALLY MASTERS IT.

AFTER THIS, THE GROUP MEMBERS EXAMINE THE OUTSIDER'S CLOTHES AND DEMAND A FEW CHANGES. THEY STICK HIS SHIRT COLLAR UP. THEY TURN HIS CAP BACKWARDS AND MAKE OTHER CHANGES SO HE LOOKS MORE LIKE THEM. HE RESISTS AT FIRST, BUT GIVES UP WHEN HE SEES THE PLEASED LOOK ON THEIR FACES.

NEXT, THE GROUP BEGINS TO PRACTICE THEIR WALK AROUND THE CIRCLE. THE OUTSIDER LAUGHS AT THEIR EXAGGERATED STRUT AND PERSISTS IN WALKING NORMAL. WHEN THEY SEE THIS, THEY SURROUND HIM AND ANGRILY SHAKE FISTS AND FINGERS AT HIM. THEY DEMONSTRATE THE WALK FOR HIM AGAIN. HE TRIES IT A FEW TIMES, BUT SEEMS UNINTERESTED IN IT. HE TRIES TO CHANGE THE SUBJECT BUT THE GROUP DEMANDS THAT HE MASTER THE WALK. EVENTUALLY HE RESENTS THEIR CONFORMITY AND REFUSES TO MASTER THE WALK. HE PUTS HIS COLLAR AND CLOTHES BACK THE WAY THEY WERE AND HE LEAVES THE GROUP. THE GROUP IS ANGRY AT HIS REJECTION. HE IS SMILING AND CONFIDENT AS HE WALKS AWAY.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Acts 12 Devotional

Here are the key points as I see them in regard to Peter's miraculous escape from a jail cell. These points all relate to God's willingness to perform miracles. Believe it or not, we have a role to play in these miracles.

Key number one is our responsibility is to pray. Prayers prompted God's miraculous response. Peter was released from prison as a result of praying people. Verse 5 says ..."but the church was earnestly praying to God for him." It is important to note that the prayers were directed to God, not to some other entity or being. They were praying to the God Peter believed in and preached about. Verse 12 notes ..."where many people had gathered and were  praying." In both of these verses, there is a significant number of people praying corporately. "The church" and "many people" moved God to act.

For key number two we note how God used an angel to enact this miracle. "Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell" (verse 7). After the prison escape, when it dawned on him that this being was an angel, Peter immediately gave credit to God for this miracle. In verse 11 it says "Then Peter came to himself and said, Now I know without a doubt the Lord sent his angel and rescued me from Herod's clutches and from everything the Jewish people were anticipating." Later in verse 17 it describes how Peter told the church about the Lord's miracle. Peter's recognition here is significant. God has the right and authority to use angels when He pleases. It is important for us to do as Peter did and acknowledge Him, thanking God for the miracle and not the angel.

The third key from this miraculous chapter is found in verse 6. "The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance." The significant part of this verse is the section, "the night before." God allowed Peter to be imprisoned for a while. He waited until the day before the trial was to start to rescue him. This was a trial in which Peter would most certainly have been found guilty and murdered by Herod. Surely the church would have preferred Peter be rescued right away. Peter, too, was probably eager to get out of that dirty cell and away from death's door. But we must remember that God's timing is not always our timing. He will enact His miracles according to His own time schedule. And His timing always bears fruit. As it says in verse 24, "But the word of God continued to increase and spread." He used Peter's imprisonment and miraculous rescue to point people to Himself and the Word. And as a result many accepted the Gospel.




Tuesday, October 09, 2012

OFFICE PRAYER

OFFICE PRAYER

SYNOPSIS: 5 corporate executives discuss business in a morning meeting. The skit serves as a reminder not to forget, or be reluctant to include, the power of prayer in every aspect of your life.

SETTING: Executive office boardroom. Characters are well-dressed, business-like. They sit around a table during a meeting.

THE SKIT BEGINS WITH SMALL TALK AS THREE OF THE FIVE CHARACTERS ARE ALREADY IN THE ROOM. TWO ARE SEATED NEXT TO EACH OTHER. THE THIRD IS GETTING COFFEE.

LISA: So, did you have a good weekend?

PHIL: Yah. Marge dragged me to the church picnic yesterday. We had a pretty good time.

LISA: Sounds fun.

GIL: ( SITTING DOWN, WITH  COFFEE IN HAND.) Sure, as long as you don't eat any spoiled potato salad. I remember one church potluck when we got so busy singing we'd forgotten how long we had left the foot out in the sun. I have never been so sick in all of my life.

WALTER ENTERS THE ROOM CARRYING A BRIEFCASE.

WALTER: OK, what are we waiting for? It's 9 AM. Let's get started.

LISA: Susan is not here yet.

WALTER: (SITTING.) So what? That's her loss. I've got work to do. Let's gt this show on the road.

GIL: Yah, you're right. Besides, she'll probably be here any minute. I call this meeting to order. First item, we've got the Hershberg presentation this Friday. How is it coming?

SUSAN: (HURRIEDLY ENTERS THE ROOM.) Sorry I'm late. I got tied up at the copy machine. What's up?

SUSAN SITS DOWN AROUND THE TABLE.

PHIL: We're discussing the Hershberg project. I'm supposed to meet with Mr. Hershberg Friday to make the final presentation. Unfortunately, I can't seem to get all of my materials together. It's gonna be a close call.

WALTER: (IRRITATED.) Oh, come on Phil! We can't keep delaying this. We gave you this project because we thought you could handle it.

SUSAN: Hang on, Walter. Give him a break. Let's at least hear him out.

LISA: Yah. What seems to be the problem, Phil?

PHIL: I'm not really sure. There seems to be a personality conflict between our firm and Hershberg's accounting department. I've contacted them several times to request the financial projection sheets, but I get nowhere. Now they won't even return my calls.

LISA: I don't understand.

PHIL: Well, the way I see it, there may be some resentment between Mr. Hershberg and his people. They may be bitter because he chose to come to us, an outside consulting firm, instead of letting them handle the project.

GIL: Well, that sounds like an internal problem. It's out of our hands.

WALTER: (STANDS UP.) Oh no it's not. We've got to take charge of the situation. What are you Phil, some kind of a wimp or something? You gotta go over to Hershberg's office and have it out with the head of the accounting department. One on one. Put this guy in his place.

SUSAN: I disagree Walter. There's got to be a diplomatic solution to this problem.

PHIL: I've tried everything I can think of. I even had my secretary call over and make the request a few times, just in case it was me they didn't like.

GIL: What about approaching Hershberg? Have you told him of your difficulties?

PHIL: I may have to on Friday. He is out of town until then. You see, when I first met with Hershberg to discuss the project, he pulled in the head of his accounting department. Joe...something or other is his name. Mr. Hersberg told Joe to cooperate with us and give us anything we need. Well, Joe was all smiles and promises then, but none of it has materialized. Mr. Hershberg is a hands-off owner. He's not going to be pleased if we complain of some kind of petty problem between us and his people.

LISA: Well, I don't know that we have any other option.

SUSAN: Have you prayed about it?

WALTER: (LAUGHINGLY.) Has he what?

SUSAN: Have you prayed about it?

PHIL: Well, no, I haven't.

WALTER: Of course he hasn't. This isn't a church thing. We're not missionaries or preachers, we're business people!

SUSAN: I believe God is interested in every aspect of our lives. If you have a personal relationship with Him you tell Him if your kids are sick. Or you pray if you're having marital problems. Why shouldn't you pray about problems at work?

WALTER: (ANGRILY.) This is ridiculous. You can't sit back and let these people walk all over you. You gotta take the bull by the horns. You know where I stand. I'm outta here. You'll have to resolve this problem without me. (WALTER BEGINS TO STORM OUT OF THE ROOM.) (SARCASTICALLY.) Pray about it!

WALTER EXITS.

SUSAN: (STANDING.) Listen, I'm sorry that Walter left the room. I didn't mean for that to happen. I just feel like prayer is an honest way to deal with the problem.

LISA: Well, honestly, I don't have much experience praying. But I kind of like the idea. I think we should pray at all of our meetings.

GIL: OK. Maybe we should pray at the end of our meetings so Walter can leave if he'd like.

SUSAN: Sure. Is that OK with you, Phil?

PHIL: You bet. Now I'll be reminded to pray about it on my own and as a group we can ask God for help to continue to prepare and act diplomatically through Friday. And for a spirit of cooperation to surface between us and the accounting department.

GIL: OK. This meeting is adjourned. Let's pray.

ALL FOUR CHARACTERS BOW IN PRAYER AS SKIT ENDS.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

NEWS REVIEW

NEWS REVIEW

THEME: Two buddies go to the movies together. One reads the paper aloud to the other for entertainment while they wait in line. The skit reflects how the increase of violence and immorality in our society is often paralleled in our choices of entertainment.

SETTING: Imagine two men in an outdoor line, in front of a movie theater, waiting to buy tickets. As the skit progresses, their movement represents the shortening of the line.

TWO MEN STAND BESIDE ONE ANOTHER, ACTING AS IF THEY ARE IN AN OUTDOOR LINE, WAITING.

BOB: Wow, it is freezing out here!

BILL: I know, and this line is so long.

BOB: (UNFOLDS NEWSPAPER HE HAS BEEN HOLDING). Never fear. That's why I brought the newspaper along. To pass the time while we wait for the movie.

BILL: Good idea. Read me something interesting.

BOB: I will if I can find anything. Here we go. (READING.) "Miss America Contestants Face Up to Plastic Surgery." It seems several former Miss America contestants had plastic surgery before the competition.

BILL: What, is nothing sacred? You can't even trust Miss America anymore. Oh well. See if you can find something a little more macho in the next story. I don't want these other people in line to get the wrong idea, you know.

BOB: OK, I'll see what I can do.  (READING.) "Gang Rioting Expected to Increase." That macho enough for you?

BILL: Plenty macho, but also plenty disturbing. Find me something I can relate to.

BOB: Well, since I left the sports section in the bathroom, you'll have to settle for (READING) "Man Kills Best Friend in Dispute Over Lottery Ticket."

BILL: Moving right along, next story please. Something a little less tragic this time, best friend.

BOB: You do realize you're severely limiting yourself here. Let me see.  (READING.) "Arsonist Injures Three in Hospital Blaze."

BILL: That's less tragic?

BOB: Well at least they didn't die.

BILL: What is the deal here, anyway? Did you grab the "gloom and doom" section of the paper or what? People are beginning to stare at us. Find something less depressing this time.

BOB: How can I? Most of the stuff in here is pretty depressing. Listen to this.  (READING.) "Drug Warlords Gain Upper Hand with Violence Aimed at Cops."

BILL: (FRUSTRATED.) Stop it! That's enough. What is this world coming too? How much longer is God going to put up with this?

BOB: I don't know. Look, I'm sorry. These are real stories, though. In a real newspaper. I'm not making this stuff up.

BILL: Yah, well enough with the depressing and violent stuff alright. I mean we're here to see a movie. Don't read anymore OK?

BOB: Hold on. Here's the movie section. They've got a review of the film we're seeing.

BILL: Really? Read it. Tell me what it's about.

BOB:  (READING.) "The hero escapes from prison, killing 3 guards during the escape. Once out, he falls in love with a drug addict and must beat up her pimp to save her life. He then embarks on successful career as an underworld loan shark."

BILL: (EXCITEDLY.) Cool. Sounds like 4-star action adventure escapism to me.

BOB: No doubt. Two thumbs up! Let's hope it's not sold out.

FREEZE OR FADE TO BLACK




Tuesday, October 02, 2012

PHONE GOSSIP

Here is another drama sketch I wrote in college, or somewhere around that time. I have tweaked it. This is the first time it has been published anywhere.

PHONE GOSSIP

SYNOPSIS: A man acts out a phone conversation between himself and his best friend. The best friend is not seen or heard. This skit is a monologue of James 4:3, "When you ask you do not receive because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures."

SETTING: A typical living room with a man and a telephone.

ANNOUNCER: James 4:3-- "When you ask you do not receive because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures."

THE SKIT BEGINS WITH A MAN SITTING ON A COUCH, CHANGING CHANNELS BY REMOTE. HIS PHONE RINGS. HE HURRIEDLY ANSWERS. MAN REMAINS VERY ANIMATED AND AGITATED THROUGHOUT THE PHONE CONVERSATION.

IN THE DIALOGUE BELOW, "..."REPRESENTS TIME WHEN THE "MAN" IS LISTENING TO HIS FRIEND ON THE OTHER END OF THE PHONE CONVERSATION. ONCE AGAIN PLEASE NOTE HIS FRIEND IS NOT SEEN OR HEARD.

MAN: Hello...Oh, hi Jay...You saw her today?...No way...Uh-huh...Well, did she mention me?...You what?!...You told her I liked her! How could you?...Well, what did she say?...That bad, huh?...It's no use. I'll never get the girl...I don't make enough money. Jay, chicks like guys who have lots of money...What about money?...Ya, I know who you mean. The Richardsons. They are that rich family from church...No way! Every year they take a month-long vacation in Hawaii? That makes me sick!...Are you kidding me? You actually saw Mrs. Richardson put a $20 bill into the offering plate and take out a $10 and a $5. Wait until I tell everyone about that...That is so unfair...Why does God do that? Why does He give money to people like that who misuse it?...Life is so unfair...Ya, well if I had money like that, I'd never misuse it. And I'd never take money out of the offering plate...What would I do with it? I'd buy a new car. Jay, chicks go for guys with nice cars...I don't understand it either. I've been praying for a new car and nothing has happened...Well, I've been praying for at least a couple of weeks now. I told you this already. I even asked you to pray about my getting a new car. You have been praying, haven't you?!...Ya, well thanks a lot. Hey, when you saw her today, what was she wearing?...The pink dress. Aah! I love her in the pink dress. Listen, Jay, I gotta go. Bye.

MAN HANGS UP PHONE AND GETS ON HIS KNEES. HE BEGINS TO MIME A FRANTIC PRAYER WITH A DESPERATE LOOK ON HIS FACE.

ANNOUNCER: James 4:3-- "When you ask you do not receive because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures."

FADE TO BLACK. END SCENE.