Monthly Archives: October 2006

The Common Good

I am working on a commissioned article on Mater et Magistra, and it has been an enlightening experience. It proves once again that one should always go to the primary sources. Reading it has clarified a few deficiencies in my own understanding of Catholic social teaching, but mostly it has confirmed things I already knew.
Many of those who defend the use of “tainted” vaccines tout the Church’s teachings on “the common good.” However, in Mater et Magistra, Bl. John XXIII makes very clear that the “common good” can never be achieved at the expense of human dignity or basic moral laws. Protection of human life must come first, then the upholding of human dignity, which requires protection of the family as an institution (hence, subsidiarity). These must take priority; “the common good” and “solidarity” can never be achieved if these values are sacrificed.


Open Letter to Big Idea

Dear Big Idea,

In 1993, the same year that Big Idea was founded, Paul Weyrich founded NET as a news network for conservative Christians. Four years later, in the midst of financial difficulties, the network went public. Weyrich lost his control of the network in a hostile takeover, and its most prominent hosts—including Cal Thomas, Alan Keyes, Armstrong Williams and Weyrich himself—left the network in protest of its selling ad time to companies they opposed. As a friend of mine put it, “Here’s Alan Keyes saying, ‘Don’t buy AT&T; support Christian long-distance companies,’ and the commercial comes on for AT&T.”

VeggieTales is an amazing franchise. You folks have done well by producing a high-quality product for a niche market that is starved for quality products. Yet every time you try to go “mainstream,” something goes wrong. _Jonah_ didn’t do as well as expected for example, and led to a bankruptcy and buy-out.

I’ve never understood why lesser-quality direct-to-video series have made it to religious cable channels, but VeggieTales never did. _Adventures in Odyssey_, for example, is a very high-quality cartoon series rivaling anything on broadcast, Nickelodeon or Disney. I don’t know how well it does, financially speaking, compared to _VeggieTales_, but it airs on both TBN & EWTN, and gets plenty of support from Chick-Fil-A.

Yet Big Idea skipped over Christian broadcasting and held out for an offer from “mainstream,” now selling out to the network my father-in-law calls “Nothing-But-Crap.” The network that replaces the anti-life, anti-Christian Katie Couric with the even more anti-Christian Meredith Viera. The network of _Will & Grace_. Yes, Jesus dined with tax collectors and sinners, but He dined with the tax collectors and sinners who *repented*. He did not just hang out at brothels. Jesus also said, “If someone refuses to hear your message, shake the dust of your feet.”

I am all for doing everything possible to get Christ’s message across to a wider audience. I understand that we must sometimes hold back or be subtle for the sake of a greater good. But to take what is an explicitly Christian message (and really not that explicitly Christian, either) and then truncate it to meet the demands of a secular network whom you willingly entered into contract with to begin with, is another matter altogether.

Even my four-year-old, watching _VeggieTales_ on NBC, said, “It’s really weird. It’s like they chopped up a bunch of shows and mashed ‘em back together, then they forgot all about Qwerty!”

Then today, they were watching it, and I saw an ad calling for toleration of homosexuality.

No more VeggieTales on NBC in this family. It’s probably only a matter of time before we dump _VeggieTales_ altogether, if your pattern of selling out for the Almighty Dollar continues.

You cannot serve both God and Mammon.

Pax et bonum,

John C. Hathaway