The big-time, East-coast media often get slammed by Christians–sometimes correctly–for what many churchgoers see as an anti-religion bias.
So you might be surprised when I tell you that a Web site co-sponsored by the Washington Post and Newsweek probably does as good a job as anywhere of exploring faith and spirituality. The site is called “On Faith.” It’s terrific.
Today, on Oscar Sunday, for example, its lead item is an op-ed piece by Ted Baehr and Tom Snyder, the publisher and editor of Movieguide, who point out that, in their words, “movies with faith and values do much better than movies that overtly attack traditional faith and values.”
Baehr and Snyder argue that in 2008, “six of the most successful movies of the year–‘Wall-E,’ ‘Iron Man,’ ‘Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,’ ‘Prince Caspian,’ ‘Gran Torino,’ and ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’–contained strong redemptive content with positive Christian references.”
They also note that in 2008 G-rated movies averaged $64.1 million in North American box office receipts, while R-rated movies averaged only $14.6 million.
Because this is an online publication, readers can respond directly. I skimmed the comments about Baehr’s and Snyder’s article, and was surprised by how many readers attempted to dismantle their argument. Which gives me a bit more insight into the minds of people out there who may not practice, or even like, Christianity.
More illuminating than the written content, as a rule, is the video section of “On Faith,” in which veteran journalist Sally Quinn conducts “60 Minutes”-style interviews with celebrities, politicians and intellectuals about their spiritual beliefs and experiences. Her interviewees run the gamut from T. D. Jakes to Ashley Judd to Norman Lear.
There’s a forum, too. Quinn sometimes poses difficult moral questions, to which readers, often hundreds of them, then post their answers. The debates are fascinating.
“On Faith” isn’t a specifically Christian feature. It allows people of all religions, or of no religion at all, equal say. But it does take Christianity quite seriously, and it opens us broad-ranging discussions of important issues. It also helps me understand how other people see the world. I think the Post and Newsweek are to be congratulated.