Lifestyles of the kitsch and pious

I heard on NPR this morning that there is a new reality show called The Sisterhood featuring the wives of five Christian preachers in the Atlanta area.

Critics say the show takes reality TV one step too far, exposing personal, intimate and sometimes unflattering details about pastors’ wives. But Domonique Scott, former first lady of The Good Life Ministry church, tells NPR’s David Greene that The Sisterhood was somewhat of a calling for her. “We definitely believe that God told us to do it,” Scott says. “Individually, and together as a group.”

“I think for us, the assignment was to step out,” adds Christina Murray, the first lady of Oasis Family Life Church. “We knew it would probably be a little controversial, but we don’t do anything just for people to understand and give us our approval; we do everything for what God is trying to lead us to do.”

Yes, I am sure that their god told them he wants them to do a reality show about their lives since god must be sick of the other offerings on TV and was looking for something new. God has become an all-purpose get-out-of-jail free card for religious people when people question their behavior. I am waiting for the day when an interviewer will ask what seems to me to be an obvious follow-up question along the lines of “How exactly did your god tell you to take such a specific action?”

Needless to say, this show is stirring up controversy as to whether it is appropriate for preachers’ wives to expose their lives on such shows and questioning whether they are doing it for less than noble motives.

TV Review: The Untouchables

Last night I watched the Frontline documentary The Untouchables that I wrote about yesterday that explored the question of why, more than four years after the financial debacle involving widespread mortgage fraud, not a single high-level Wall Street executive has faced criminal prosecution. All that has happened is a bunch of very low-level people being charged and a series of civil prosecutions resulting in plea bargains in which some banks have paid fines that seem large but are puny compared to the scale of the fraud, and which the bank executives can simply write off as the cost of doing business while they continue to enrich themselves with high salaries and bonuses. The program covers some of the same ground as that excellent 2010 documentary Inside Job that I reviewed here [Read more…]

Is hell hot or cold?

Before readers roll their eyes and wonder whether I have lost my marbles and am next going to discuss how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, let me reassure them that I have a sociological and not theological interest in this question. It turns out that this question has had answers that have varied with time and I became curious as to the reasons why. [Read more…]

What wins when money clashes with religious doctrine?

That is, of course, a question that practically answers itself. Via reader Vote for Pedro I learned about a court case arising from a tragic situation in 2006 when a woman who was seven months pregnant with twins started vomiting and was short of breath and was admitted to the emergency room of a Colorado hospital run by the Catholic church. The obstetrician on call did not answer his page and the woman died within the hour and the twins did not survive either. [Read more…]

Looking for Atlas

So you read Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead and inspired by their powerful message of the virtue of selfishness and the vice of altruism, you have sworn off having anything to do with the moochers and looters who are trying to live off the hard-earned rewards of your own genius. But you now feel lonely because there are so few pure Randian objectivists around and none of the people in your present circle seem willing to take you up on your generous offer to loan them 1,000 page novels containing turgid prose and two-dimensional characters. What is a maker to do? [Read more…]

Film review: Game Change (2012)

Over the weekend I saw this film about the ill-fated McCain-Palin campaign of 2008. The film is based on a book of the same name by two journalists who relied heavily on anonymous sources on ‘deep background’, which means that one has to be wary of the material that took place out of the public eye or was not reported previously, and treat it with some skepticism. As a film I found it entertaining and engrossing even though I was very familiar with the entire narrative. I was not particularly surprised by any of the information in it but then I am a bit of a political junkie and followed that election pretty closely. With that knowledge I can say that events portrayed in the film were largely consistent with my understanding of the people and events. [Read more…]