- The Washington Times - Monday, March 19, 2001

What parents decide

"The latest hit movie gross-out is 'Hannibal,' which depicts cannibalism, disembowelings, and rank terror designed to creep into the audience's mind… .

"Nevertheless, many parents used 'Hannibal' as just another nice family outing. Theater audiences for 'Hannibal' … regularly include moms and dads with their grade-school children or even toddlers.

"A reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel interviewed some of these parents, asking why they would take young children to a movie like this. The answers were variations of what the mother of a 9-year-old said: 'It should be the parents who decide.' They are the parents; this is their choice; therefore, they are not doing anything wrong… .

"It is indeed the parents who decided, which is as it should be… . But there will be no improvements unless parents pay attention to what they choose."

Gene Edward Veith, writing on "Mom and dad's job," in the March 17 issue of World

Tortured for celibacy

"[Unlike St. Agatha], American women today aren't likely to be tortured for choosing to remain celibate. Yet such a decision is still regarded with skepticism in a culture that caters to nuclear families. Rampant divorce notwithstanding, families headed by married heterosexuals have somehow endured as a symbol of normality and entitlement.

"If there is a low-grade societal bias against people who don't marry, it is certainly directed more at women than men. Eternal bachelors may spark curiosity, but they also enjoy a kind of rakish mystique. Not so the aging, unmarried, childless woman who is usually pitied, the assumption being that no one wanted her. Either that or she is simply too selfish and self-absorbed to share herself with a husband and children… . The skepticism goes a level deeper with nuns, who renounce sex along with the husband and offspring …

"From the lewd monologues of late-night talk-show hosts to commonplace 'parental advisory' stickers on rap and rock CDs to the detailed coverage of the president's sordid sexual transgressions, we are all so steeped in sexuality that to say no to the self-gratifying realm of sex is to go sharply against the grain. People in this society who choose a celibate life take a bold and lonely stand and invited a sometimes hostile curiosity."

Lucy Kaylin, from her new book "For the Love of God: The Faith and Future of the American Nun"

Forrest Gump religion

"Although Americans are mostly Christian, they are really generic religionists at heart. Two of three U.S. adults say they have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in their life today, but only 41 percent of the same people say they are absolutely committed. Only one-third of the adult public identify themselves as born-again Christian, and two-thirds of all Americans have no idea what the term 'evangelical' means.

"Eighty percent of Americans believe the Bible is the inspired word of God, but 59 percent said they don't have the time to read it. Eighty-two percent of Americans believe in the power of prayer, but 53 percent agree that all people pray to the same God or Spirit no matter what name they use for that spiritual being… . So we're seeing more films dealing with spirituality, but more at the general level rather than anything specific. "Forrest Gump" is a great example …

"In one scene, Lieutenant Dan and Forrest are out in a boat in a huge storm, with Dan yelling angrily at God. Then they come in the next morning, and they find that all the shrimp boats that were docked were destroyed. So Forrest and Lieutenant Dan monopolize the shrimp industry. I think that's the American view of God you get a little outside magical assistance and you become rich and famous or whatever your goals are."

Calvin College professor William Romanowski in "The World Behind the Movie" in the Feb. 5 Christianity Today

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