February 22, 2016



Read this first! Collier & Magid’s “Online Safety 3.0: A Refreshing Approach to Internet Safety”www.tinyurl.com/OnlineSafety3-0 (Link is just the intro. Be sure to click thru to 8-page manifesto! The best thing you’ll read on Internet Safety! Digital Citizenship!)

Also: the Common Sense Media Summer 2012 Study of How Teens View Their Digital Lives www.tinyurl.com/TeensDigitalLives


www.software4parents.com (a collection of various software options for your computer) Includes NET NANNY MOBILE (for phones and eBLASTER MOBILE for Android) LET KIDS KNOW WHEN SOFTWARE INSTALLED & HOW IT WORKS! DON’T SPY! (The best sofware is installed online, not by consumer, so can’t be disabled by consumer or kids) Call cell phone service provider for filter options on phones. Also: www.covenanteyes.com       www.safekids.com   www.safeteens.com  (great, simple ideas for parents and youth themselves, includes “Family Contract for Online Safety” that both kids and parents sign)
www.clearplay.com With studios' permission, bad language, etc., is excised out of DVDs and streaming so whole fam can watch!

Book to read with kids: "Good Pictures, Bad Pictures" https://www.amazon.ca/Good-Pictures-Bad-Porn-Proofing-Todays/dp/0615927335

C-Close my eyes immediately
A-Always tell a trusted adult
N-Name it when I see it

D-Distract myself
O-Order my thinking brain to be the boss! (the boss of my feeling brain)

 "Connected Toward Communion: The Church and Social Communication in the Digital Age" Zsupan-Jerome, "The Church and New Media" Vogt, "The Social Media Gospel" Gould

“Talking Back to Facebook” by James Steyer, founder of www.commonsensemedia.org, “Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology & Less from Each Other” by MIT’s Shirley Turkle, “Virtually You: Dangers of the E-Personality” Elias Aboujaoude,
“Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure & Material Advantage Are Creating a Generation of Disconnected & Unhappy Kids” & “Teach Your Children Well: Parenting for Authentic Success” by Dr. Madeline Levine

www.vatican.va  Must-read Vatican documents on media: “Dawn of a New Era,” “Rapid Development” (JP2). Also read the recent, short addresses by the popes for "World Communications Day" at www.vatican.va


Tom and Kari Curran have videos, webinars and a parents Facebook group
which teaches you how to "parent the media" from soup to nuts!
(When to give your kids tech, rights & responsibilities of tech,
how to train them in using it well, monitoring, etc.)


--media.pauline.org = Pauline Center for Media Studies of the Daughters of St. Paul: speakers available!
certification for catechists & teachers, www.SQPN.com (Catholic new media leaders, yearly conference), www.medialit.org (Center for Media Literacy), www.NAMLE.net  (Nat’l Ass’n for Media Literacy Education—formerly AMLA), www.NAMLEmarketplace.org (all kinds of curriculum), www.frankWbaker.com  (sign up for his listserv and get the latest on media literacy daily—about 5 emails a day), www.catholicvideogamers.blogspot.com (for teens and parents, written by Chicago seminarians and friends), www.connectsafely.org, www.sheriffs.org (click on “Safe Surfin’ Foundation” for free CDs with videos/files/.pdfs/tests for kids, teens, parents/communities), www.fbi.gov also has internet safety info (but only about predators, not comprehensive), www.pope2you.net (Youtube, Facebook, iphone), www.xt3.com (worldwide social networking pope uses), www.commonsense.com (rating for and by parents for all things media) www.PluggedIn.com (Focus on the Family=ALL things youth & media!) www.MasterMediaIntl.org (get a monthly prayer calendar to pray for who's who in media!)

NEWS LITERACY: www.CenterforNewsLiteracy.org,   www.TheNewsLiteracyProject.org

www.ReclaimSexualHealth.com(Catholic)&www.candeocan.com(secular)(confidential sites w/information, accountability & online help) www.PornKillsLove.com (young, hip website with counseling programs) Comprehensive resources: www.tinyurl.com/PornPreventionResources (includes recovery)

THEOLOGY OF THE BODY (also for teens): 

Comprehensive: www.tinyurl.com/TOBresources
YOUTUBE: JasonEvert channel, www.WomenMadeNew.com , www.pauline.org, www.ascensionpress.com www.christopherwest.com TOB  CDs/DVDs,  www.theologyofthebody.net “The Interior Gaze: Remedy for Pornovision and Lust DVD,” Fr. Thomas Loya www.taborlife.org , “Out of the Darkness” DVD (interview w former porn star turned Christian & others) from www.anteroompictures.com,  Accountability websites: www.thekingsmen.us
COMPREHENSIVE porn prevention and recovery resources (always being updated): www.tinyurl.com/PornPreventionResources

from www.pauline.org
--“Media Mindfulness—Educating Teens About Faith & Media” Sr. Gretchen Hailer & Sr. Rose Pacatte (easy-to-use lesson plans!) www.smp.org
--“Our Media World” Sr. Gretchen Hailer & Sr. Rose Pacatte (Media Literacy/Media Mindfulness K-8) (easy-to-use lesson plans!)
--“Imagining Faith with Kids: Unearthing Seeds of the Gospel in Children’s Stories” (tots to tweens) by Mary Margaret Keaton
--“How To Watch Movies with Kids,” by Sr. Hosea Rupprecht


--"Live Christ! Give Christ! Prayers for the New Evangelization" (many are prayers for the media composed by Blessed Fr. James Alberione & mentioned in www.MediaApostle.com)

--"Cleansed"--there's life after porn.

--"Good Pictures, Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today's Young Kids"

www.MediaApostle.com and then download the free study guide to start a conversation about the Church and Media: www.MediaApostle.com/Resources

“Entertainment Weekly” (the latest on ALL entertainment media, serious journalism, even tho’ it looks like a tabloid)
“WIRED” (computers, internet, futuristic technology)



--We CHOOSE HOW WE USE media. We can change, go back, adapt, re-think, modify, perfect!

--How can I use media in a way that respects HUMAN DIGNITY and never destroys it?

--How can I make MEDIA WORK FOR ME AND MY FAMILY and never against us?
We can make media work for us through:
  • DISCIPLESHIP—We need to follow, glorify & imitate Jesus in everything we do, including media.
  • DISCERNMENT—We need to make good media choices (media technology use and media content).
  • DISCIPLINE—Practice makes perfect. We need self-mastery, to be in control of media rather than it controlling us.

--CONTROL IS FOR THE MOMENT, COMMUNICATION IS FOR A LIFETIME. (Talk at length with your kids about media so they process, think, agree, decide, gain skills to make good choices on their own.)

--“Choose, apportion, accompany & correct young people’s media use.” –Blessed Fr. James Alberione

--We need to PRAY about our media use: it’s powerful, it’s everywhere, and it’s the stuff of our lives.

--All media are virtual reality. VIRTUALITY IS REAL. Real in appearance and effects. In media, a partial gift of the bodily presence is there, but the full gift of the bodily presence is not.

--Bodies are not optional. We need to give each other the GIFT OF OUR FULL BODILY PRESENCE. Face time and undivided attention is the best form of communication. Other mediated forms are secondary. The people bodily present to us always have precedence (rather than people we can communicate with through media).

--There are 3 SACRED PLACES (tables & altars) where we DON’T NEED SCREENS or mediated communication.

  • CHURCH: God is present
  • FAMILY TABLE: the images of God are present
  • MASTER BEDROOM: the primary image of God, “male & female He created them,” are present
If it’s absolutely necessary to use media in these 3 places, intentionally excuse yourself, take care of the matter in another space, and then return.

--The Church believes that the MEDIA ARE GIFTS OF GOD, and that we should use them and use them well.

--God is everywhere in the media, especially in human persons. We can’t hurt God through media, but we can hurt human beings. We need to focus on how human dignity is respected (or not) in media.

--We need to transfer the Gospel into virtual reality: WWJDO? What Would Jesus Do Online? If we wouldn’t/shouldn’t do it in person, don’t do it online. (The Golden Rule also applies!)

--“Internet Safety” includes being safe here AND hereafter. Since we are spending 7 hours a day online, we are “working out our salvation” partially online.

BEST MEDIA LITERACY BOOKS: www.tinyurl.com/BestMediaLitBooks

February 17, 2016


"Risen," the new Bible movie about a Roman soldier and Jesus, is excellent and "Ben Hur" imaginative. This is not Bible schlock, this is Joseph Fiennes as the Roman soldier. And since you can't have a decent Scripture movie without a healthy dose of Brits in the cast, this extremely well-cast international troupe of actors boasts quite a few British actors, including the actor who plays Pontius Pilate.

One of the best things about "Risen" is that its unpredictable. If it was simply the Bible itself with a few fictitious subplots, we'd know what's coming. But this is the fictitious story of a hardened Roman tribute ("Clavius") commissioned with not only overseeing the Crucifixion of the Nazarene, but also tamping down his whole movement, starting with his inner circle, the Twelve--or rather now Eleven--Apostles.


The whole point of the movie is very "Theology of the Body": "Where is THE BODY?" Because the body matters. A great deal. At one point, the tribute interviews various followers and disciples about Jesus and His "dead" body's whereabouts: a device that could have been trite and boring, but is nothing of the sort. Clavius is torn between carrying out his mission of destruction and his attraction to the Jesus these witnesses describe. We sense a man at the end of his rope, a man who has seen much violence and is wondering what the point of it all is and what Roman violence really accomplishes. He's full of skepticism about what he has devoted his life to and is realizing there must be a better way than the "pax romanum": order imposed through a conquering brutality. He has a heart for people and is a stern, but not ruthless man. Clavius is also a religious man--as most Romans were. He prays to Mars, the god of war.


"Risen" is subtly funny throughout. You don't even have to be religious to get the jokes. They're human jokes. In fact, the whole film is very "human." The three criticisms I can just feel coming are this: 1) Too gritty in the beginning (the Crucifixion is "The Passion of the Christ"-style realistic), 2) the Apostles come across as too human and flawed, and 3) Jesus isn't handsome. To which I reply: Crucifixions are horrific, the Apostles were a motley crew (especially pre-Pentecost--as this film is), and what if Jesus wasn't Brad Pitt? (I would like to go on record as disagreeing with all these criticisms.)

"Risen" explores parts of the New Testament rarely seen on film, and it's glorious. Glorious in a bumbling sort of way (it's meant to be bumbling). The Apostles don't have all the answers. Nathaniel (the man Jesus described as being "without guile") is young, hippie-go-lucky and part of the comic relief. His display of childlike optimism and hope is the sole time we see Clavius crack a faint smile.

This is not a child's Bible picture book come to life. This is a carefully and cleverly imagined, fairly airtight "what if" film that keeps faithfully within the bounds of the sacred text. Much of the dialogue is outstanding. We begin to see the logic of all the parties involved at this "fullness of time" into which the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity chose to enter human history.


Jesus. I don't know if folks are going to like Jesus. He's not a pretty Jesus, but He is Jesus-y. He will not go down in my film reviewing annals as my favorite screen Jesus, but I have been thinking a lot of late about our obsession with appearances and how the New Testament describes no one's appearance. There are no descriptions of people's faces, features, etc., (except perhaps stature: Zacchaeus was a little man). Isaiah describes the Suffering Servant thus: "For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him." The passage goes on to talk about the mysterious Suffering Servant's appearance after being battered:

He was despised and rejected by mankind,

    a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
    he was despised, and we held him in low esteem." (Isaiah 52:3, KJV)

Some Bible footnotes will just lump the first part of Isaiah (v. 2) in with the account of the Passion, but I've always wondered if they should be separated.  Was Jesus was just plain looking? On purpose? Even though artistic renderings of the face of the Man of the Shroud make Jesus look like a babe, and my personal  favorite Jesus is the guyliner Sacred Heart from Hales Corner, Wisconsin--I wonder. What would be a better antidote to our looks-obsessed, Insta-famous, photoshopping culture than a dull-faced Jesus? (Have you seen the Veil of Manoppello???)

But hopefully no one will argue when they see some of  the other Bible characters brought to life. The centurion! Joseph of Arimathea! A jolly and fiesty Peter! An old woman loved by Jesus!
Sony is behind "Risen," and it looks like they put a fair amount of money into it (which must be done for any period piece), but it looks like could have put even more. (The same hillside set doubles for two different locations and Peter flashes metal fillings when he smiles. There were a few other glitches like a teeny weeny battle scene that could have been made to look much bigger with simulated FX "extras," or just not shooting the peripheries of the battle.)


My one and only complaint about this well-done, thought-prodding, heart-provoking film is the simply wretched, unnecessary, and thankfully brief "bookends" at the beginning and end of the film wherein the wayfaring tribune is lodging at a stranger's house. ("Oh! You must be a Roman tribune because I see your tribune's ring! Pray tell, what brings you to my humble abode?" The whole movie then becomes flashback.) The first little lead-in to the film is so bad that I distrusted this film was going to be any good--and it took all of the marvelous Act One to win me back. The few minutes of the opening is that bad. This film did not need bookends. I repeat: this film did not need bookends. So, do NOT be put off by the opening scene. Just ignore it. Fiennes' face also has a "Snoopy vulture" look for the first few scenes, but he quickly recovers.

Mary Magdalene is portrayed as a former--*heaves a tremendous sigh*--prostitute. The Bible never says she was a prostitute, and we can thank Pope St. Gregory the Great for mistakenly conflating her with one. I thought we were over this in 2016. But maybe the continued mistake is willful because it just makes for a juicier story?

At a certain point, Clavius becomes a man in front of his God. Whoa. Powerful. Clavius is all of us.

Sony should keep making fine Bible films. And try even harder.


--Best line: "Sometimes Jesus is hard to recognize."

--Several years ago there was a low-budget, straight-to-VHS, Max Lucado film similar to this that I really liked.

--"Risen" is also a novel (adapted from the screenplay).

--@RisenMovie #RisenMovie on social media everywhere

--All during my free pre-screening of this film, a film studio security dude was standing right next to me (I was on the aisle) facing the audience and  shooting some infrared lens into the crowd to make sure no one was recording film. #TresDisconcerting

--Just as when I saw "The Passion of the Christ" in the theater, folks were LOUDLY MUNCHING POPCORN DURING THE CRUCIFIXION. Really???

--One of our Sisters, on hearing that Jesus wasn't good looking, immediately countered with: "Oh, no. Jesus was perfect. He was perfect in all things." :)

--The biblical soundtrack is standard. But just standard. Nothing creative about it.

--Clavius wanted the TRUTH.

--Nathaniel reminded me of "Godspell." Which I love. And was a background dancer for in our high school production thereof. And I got to meet Stephen Schwartz later in my life. Who's a great guy.

--Don't forget to watch "Full of Grace"! A film about Mary and the Apostles, post-Resurrection, that would be great a great companion film to see after "Risen." (See my recent review of "Full of Grace" on this blog).  http://hellburns.blogspot.ca/2016/01/movies-full-of-grace-story-of-mary.html#.VsTKRvIrKM8       www.FullOfGraceFilm.com

--I am just TICKLED PINK that so many wonderful new Jesus, Mary &  Bible movies are coming out.

--"Our only weapon is love."

--"We are followers. We follow to find out."

--The Apostles defer to Peter.

--Clavius is a man in front of his God. It would be different for a "woman in front of her God." It just would be. (The film captures this a bit with Mary Magdalene.) One main difference? Her utter certainty.

--Jesus is a "strange case," says Pilate. Yes He is.

February 15, 2016


"The Young Messiah" is my new favorite Jesus movie. Based on Anne Rice's historical novel (but with adjusted theology), "Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt," it combines the latest and best in filmmaking, the dramatic arts, mature biblical scholarship, theology and imagination. It is biblically and theologically sound (always a tricky task when speaking about Jesus, but even more so the Child Jesus and his "human knowledge"--what did he/didn't he allow himself to know in his humanity at that young age? See Luke 2:52) There has been some talk that "apocryphal writings" inspired some scenes. "Apocryphal" does not mean "Gnostic." The apocryphal Proto-Evangelium of James was used by early Christians as devotional reading. But it's not the Word of God.


"The Young Messiah" shows lots of homework was done. No trendy twenty-first-century ideas plopped in. No outlandish "what if" musings (beyond Jesus bringing a bird back to life). The dialogue is so carefully crafted that every word effortlessly rings true in these fully fleshed-out and delightful characters. The text of the Scriptures is faithfully adhered to (without really taking liberties) and then sundry plausible plot points--that totally work--are skillfully woven in to bring life to the text. Every scene is to support the text, not draw away from it. All exposition is invisible and clever. The British-accented cast slays it.

This story of one year in the life of the Child Jesus begins with Jesus in Egypt being bullied by another boy from the Jewish community, and escalates into some gripping action which it maintains to one degree or another throughout the film. Never boring. Never trite. There are no hackneyed turns of phrases. The theology is precise. This film has everything in it but the sensational.


Wunderkind, Adam Greaves-Neal (it's his first film role and he was chosen from among 2000 child actors all over the world), plays Jesus with childlike openness, earnestness and chutzpah, and avoids gooey sentimentality (as does the whole film). His facial expressions and reactions are just completely natural. You will fall in love with this little Jesus and just want to hug him. Mary and Joseph are the consistently best Mary and Joseph the screen has seen (Sara Lazzaro [Italian & American] and Vincent Walsh [Irish: raised in Dublin & Toronto]).

There aren't just a few good scenes or lines for these two. The whole film exposes what it might be like to be the world's most unique couple, with their utter devotion to Jesus and to each other. Mary and Joseph don't have all the answers, but they know this precious and precocious kid is God's Son, and their own profound faith and love encompass him. Mary and Joseph wrangle a bit with each other over what is best for Jesus, and both, especially Mary, are hyper-vigilant and appropriately worried for most of the film. Mary and Joseph also know that only they--out of the whole world-can truly understand each other. A wonderful, mutual, egalitarian marriage is portrayed.

The entire cast shows us how people of faith (specifically first century Jews) wrangle with God and the mysteries of God. Stunning. The Satan character (Rory Keenan, also Irish) lends yet another layer.


Jesus must slowly grasp who he is and learn to keep his powers under wraps for now. He's moved by human misery, pain, suffering and sickness, and realizes that when he prays over people or asks God for something: healing occurs, miracles happen. And others are watching, too. Herod Jr.--as despicable as his father--begins to get wind of a little healer boy and realizes that he is just the right age to be the Messiah, "Wonder-Counselor, Prince of Peace." Maybe this child escaped the Bethlehem bloodbath. He sends his centurion (Sean Bean)--who was also present at Bethlehem and carried out the slaughter--to find and kill the boy Jesus. This constant believable danger, with its attending intrigue and narrow escapes make for an urgency to the whole film.


Mary and Joseph keep Jesus' origins and early life a secret from him, but this is not proving to be helpful. Without doing a spoiler here, Mary eventually tells Jesus about the Annunciation in a wonderfully tender scene, as Jesus tries to comprehend: "So is the angel my father?"

This story, this film believes. (Not everyone who worked on/in the film necessarily believes, of course, but the film itself does.) This is the beauty of virsimilitude and acting: putting oneself "in the place of" with every fiber of one's being. Anne Rice is Catholic, and the Catholicity of this film is palpable.

Big money must have been thrown at this production--just from the looks of the sets and extras. The music starts off as standard Bible movie music, but then gets a bit more diverse and disappears into the film, adding to the overall excellence of the experience.


This film manages to make the gentleness of Jesus tough, hip and cool--even in the face of the savage might of Rome. (Great for boys/men to see!) My favorite quick image to illustrate this is the final "home" of the little wooden camel (I assure you that will make sense when you see the movie).

Only the best writers, filmmakers and thespians could pull off such an engrossing marvel as "The Young Messiah." I am in awe. It would be grand if this same set of creative geniuses would do the adult Jesus, but YM is gift enough.

Ever since the wild runaway success of "The Passion of the Christ," Hollywood has been trying to make a Jesus movie that will move and WOW crowds once again. They just did.

Appropriate for children? Yes! (What better role model for the kiddos? If they can handle seeing some men hanging on crosses and the repeated [non-graphic] murder of the Holy Innocents.)

I never watch movies twice, but I could run out to the theater and watch "The Young Messiah" over and over and over.


As soon as I saw the boy Jesus on screen, he instantly reminded me of this famous picture.


--After writing this review, quite a bit of controversy came up over the film being "heretical" and portraying an erroneous Christology (even after Archbishop Chaput and Cardinal Sean O'Malley gave it the thumbs up). The argument mostly being stated this way: "Jesus always knew He was divine." Yes. In His divinity. But in His humanity? It gets way trickier. The most important thing I think we need to keep in mind (and I'm no theologian, but I am a consulter of theologians) is that Jesus was truly God (Christians usually don't have a problem with this) AND truly man (Christians often have a problem with this), who grew in "age, wisdom and grace" as a child. It's a bit mysterious as to when and how Jesus THE CHILD (not Jesus the full grown man) came to full knowledge of His identity.

Jesus' divinity did not just override and overwhelm His humanity. (This is another kind of heresy!) Then He would not be truly human.  

Catholic World Report has one of the best explanations of the Church's teaching on the hypostatic union (the union of Jesus' divine nature and human nature) and "human knowledge" of Christ: 

Even as an adult, didn't Jesus have to operate in the world as man? Jesus said: "Who touched me?" when a woman in the crowd touched his robe from behind and Jesus felt healing power go out of Him. Did He really not know (in his humanity) because His back was turned? Or did He just want the woman to come forth? When Jesus said He didn't know the time of His own Second Coming (Mt. 24:36), was He referring to not knowing in his humanity? (CCC 474 says that certain things He was also not sent to reveal.....)

A priest friend of mine who teaches Christology in a seminary said that we don't really know when the Child Jesus in His humanity came into a full realization of His identity, but it seems it must have been before the 12-year-old Jesus' Finding in the Temple. "The Young Messiah" is the 7-year-old Jesus.

--In the late 80's, the made-for-TV "A Child Called Jesus" was a similar attempt. I don't remember watching it, but I can't imagine anything comparing to "The Young Messiah."

--OF COURSE Jesus would have brought His little birdies back to life.

--The name of the actor who plays Jesus is "Adam." (Get it? The new Adam? You can't make this stuff up.)

--Jesus asks A LOT of questions.

--Lots of foreshadowing: Satan, crucifixion, moneychangers in Temple, rabbis, boy Jesus in Temple, centurion

--One of the best scenes: Jesus talking to some rabbis and blowing their minds (even before he goes to the Temple).

--They got it correct that the Magi were from Persia! Perhaps because the director/writer is Iranian? ;) Well done! (Twitter: @Cyrus Nowrasteh)

--I would like to tell you so much more about this film, but I would be recounting the whole thing!

--There is one touch I would liked to have seen/heard at the very end: a connection of Jesus being on earth for the people, for us. But that's just me.

--Thankfully, no flash-forwards to Jesus' adult life.

--Jesus pipes up at the most inopportune moment: "I was born in Bethlehem!" No "Messianic Secret" here! (Bible scholar's joke)

--Joseph to Mary: "How do I talk about God to His own Son?"

--Joseph (trying to hide Jesus' true identity): "He's just a child." Caleb, Jesus' uncle: "No, he's not. I was a child. You were a child. He's more."

--"Joseph & Mary in #YoungMessiahMovie are the ultimate power couple." --@AWalkenstein

--I love how the film shows the fact that people knew about the visit of the Magi to Herod. The New Testament says that people TALKED about things like Elizabeth giving birth in her old age, etc. Jesus was surrounded by signs and chatter. He didn't just appear out of nowhere and no context in a vacuum....

--Jesus ended animal sacrifice! Coo! Bah! Moo! Bleat!

--Jesus is THE good guy here. The good guy with THE destiny.

--WHY is this the best Jesus movie ever? The spirit of God and the spirit of the Child combine. Palpably.  #AlwaysDivineAlwaysHuman

--And to think: I didn't even want to see this film. (I thought it was going to be a Flower Power Indigo Child frolicking in a puff of autumn mist working magic.)