Father Clooney and the First Church of Hollywood

03/09/2006

George Clooney presides over his congregation at the Academy Awards.

Forget Scientology. The new religion of the Left Coast is Hollywood itself.

The Academy Awards exposed a faction of filmmakers who possess more zeal than many Evangelicals. Led by the outspoken (and now Oscar-winning) actor George Clooney, this congregation of artist-activists came completely out of the closet during their Sunday evening service.

Early in the program, host Jon Stewart noted that Hollywood is sometimes considered “out of touch with mainstream America…an atheistic pleasure dome…a modern-day beachfront Sodom and Gomorrah…a moral black hole where innocence is obliterated in an endless orgy of sexual gratification and greed.”

Clooney departed from the typical thank-you speech and admitted, “We are a little bit out of touch in Hollywood every once in a while, I think. It’s probably a good thing. We’re the ones who talk about AIDS when it was just being whispered. And we talked about civil rights when it wasn’t really popular… This group of people gave Hattie McDaniel an Oscar in 1939 when blacks were still sitting in the backs of theaters. I’m proud to be a part of this Academy. I’m proud to be part of this community. I’m proud to be out of touch.”

Isn’t it amazing to discover Hollywood’s desire to be recognized as the champion of all worthy causes, the nation’s true source of healing and the real cure for our social ills? This role used to be fulfilled by the church!

My own observation is that much of Hollywood tends to feed and motivate the selfish, gratuitous, extreme and even perverse practices that ultimately demand someone taking a stand for what really matters in life. They have spent a fortune promoting many of the things that they now seek credit for addressing. Talk about hypocrisy!

I will readily admit that the movie industry has occasionally done some positive things with art. Giving the Gone with the Wind actress an award for her stereotypical portrayal of the slave “Mammy” did require courage back in 1939. Of course, Mrs. McDaniel and her husband had to sit at the back table during those Academy Awards and it took Hollywood 51 years to award another Oscar to a black woman. But nevermind the details. They provide such leadership on racial issues that they gave this year’s Best Song Oscar to the Three 6 Mafia for It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp –an inspiration for any young black American.

Another Oscar went to screenwriter and producer Diana Ossana for her adaptation of the gay cowboy movie Brokeback Mountain, who declared in her acceptance speech that "the duty of art is to send light in to the darkness of men's hearts."

That’s right, homosexuality equals light, heterosexuality equals darkness. A passage straight out of the new Hollywood Bible.

Ang Lee, the Oscar-winning director of Brokeback, praised the screenwriters who “taught us about all the gay men and women whose love is denied by society."

Wait a second. I thought the conflict had to do with sex, not love. Aha! Another passage from the First Church of Hollywood’s sacred text: Sex equals love! That’s their story and, in the words of the Academy President, Sid Ganis, "We are the salesmen of the story."

There was a time when Hollywood defended their more controversial films with the argument that art merely reflected society. But in the New Religion, the rules have changed. Paul Haggis, whose film Crash won Best Picture, quoted Berthold Brecht, the early 20th century Marxist playwright who was honored with the Stalin Peace Prize, when he said, "Art is not a mirror held up to reality, but a hammer with which to shape it."

The members of Father Clooney’s parish are hammering away. They are happily out of touch with mainstream America, but if the Oscars are any indication, their sermons are being proclaimed in theaters around the country. I wonder if they even notice the drop-off at the box office.

The rest of us can only hope and pray for an increase in the brief and glorious moments of film, when movies like Schindler’s List caused us to search for the good in each of us, and Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner forced us to think honestly about how we treated each other, and The Passion of the Christ helped us see the face of true love.

 



Author: James Robison

Word Count: 720

About the author: James Robison is the founder and president of LIFE Outreach International, an international humanitarian aid ministry; host of the television program, Life Today; and author of The Absolutes.

Media Contact: Randy Robison, editor at jamesrobison.net

Photo available upon request. Reprint rights granted with attribution for complete, unedited article. Revisions allowed only with approval.

 

 

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