We're Taking Communion at the Mall
Terry Mattingly writes the syndicated "On Religion"
column for the Scripps Howard News Service in Washington,
D.C. that appears in about 350 newspapers nationwide, and
is associate professor of media & religion at Palm Beach
Atlantic College. He also is a senior fellow for journalism
at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities.
He has worked as a reporter and religion columnist at the
Rocky Mountain News in Denver and the Charlotte Observer and
the Charlotte News. In 1991, Mattingly began teaching at Denver
Seminary and, later, was a founding member of the Association
for Communications and Theological Education.
In addition to his classroom duties, Mattingly lectures at
Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Mass.,
the Torreys Honors Program at Biola University, Baylor University
in Waco, Texas, and in other settings across the nation. Mattingly
serves as co-director of the CCCU's Summer Institute of Journalism,
a four-week undergraduate program in late May and early June
at its headquarters in Washington, D.C.
ABC News recently released Peggy Wehmeyer citing budget constraints.
Is it money or the lack of money that is the major reason
for there being so few religious journalists around these
MATTINGLY: There are no religious journalists in the news
full time. Peter Jennings says that it is difficult to get
the modern newsroom to accept that religion is a massive part
of modern daily life. Jennings tells a funny story that when
you have a hurricane, or a plane crash, or a tornado
the reporter with microphone in hand goes running up to the
survivor who's standing there drenched, sweaty and bruised,
and then says, "How did you get through this?" There's
a pause, and the survivor says, "Well, I did this, and
this and this, but most of all, it was God who saved me and
got me through this." And Jennings says, "And then
there's this huge pause, and the reporter says, 'No, what
really got you through it?'" And Jennings argues that
that pause between the answer of a typical American believer
and the disbelieving reporter's "What really got you
through it?" he says that pause is why there's
no one on the air doing religion.
HOMILETICS: So we have a journalistic
ethos that doesn't understand religion trying to report on
religious events and moral values?
MATTINGLY: Yes. We have a tremendous two-sided blind spot.
We have a blind spot between the two halves of the first amendment,
both of which basically hate each other's guts: the church
and the press. The press does not respect the role that the
church plays in ordinary, day-to-day life, that is, how normal
Americans spend their time, spend their money and make their
decisions. At the same time, the church does not understand
or respect, the role that news and entertainment media play
in the daily lives of modern Americans. It's a double-sided
blind spot, and it keeps the church from being able to talk
about the daily lives of people, and it prevents the news
and entertainment media from being about to write a lot of
material that really grips the daily lives of ordinary people.
This is the essence of what I call the separation of church
HOMILETICS: Talk more about what you mean
by "separation of church and life."
MATTINGLY: I mean it in terms of statistics. If you analyzed
the ordinary life of American people, that is, how they spend
the time, their money and how they make their decisions, you
could not miss the role of entertainment and news media. Right?
Yet, no seminaries in America require people in their core
classes to study the impact of the mass media on American
life that I know of, and I've hunted. Certainly no evangelical
seminaries and frankly, I wouldn't expect liberal seminaries
to do it, because a) they tend to be even more elitist, and
b) they have an even less missionary imperative. So I see
it impossible to do apologetics in the late 20th and early
21st century without realizing that the mass media is the
only common mirror you have in this society. It's a cracked
mirror; it's warped, but it's the only mirror we have.
HOMILETICS: Why should we look in this
mirror at all?
MATTINGLY: Well, if you want to address the daily lives of
American people, you're not going to ignore the media. But
we do. Look, here's another image I use: If you're going to
train a missionary to go to another culture, what are the
essential skills they have to have? At the very least they
have to speak the language. At the very least they have to
know the family and social structures of the place to which
they're going, at the very least they have to understand the
economy, at the very least they have to understand the taboos,
the myths, the archetypes that explain that culture to itself.
Okay. Now, how in the heck would anybody try to do Christian
education, counseling and preaching in this culture in terms
of language, family life structures, humor, taboos, myth
not to mention economics without focusing on the power
of entertainment and mass media?
HOMILETICS: Is this a critique of contemporary
preaching? Do you think that as preachers we have failed to
learn the language?
MATTINGLY: In a very strange way, we're doing a sort of reverse
colonialism. We are a lot like the missionaries who went into
foreign countries and asked them all to put on three-piece
suits, to learn a new language, and to do throw out all their
music and hymns, etc. I am talking more about apologetics,
mission work, evangelism and education, than I am about worship
issues. But at the very least, any preacher who wants to say
a word to people who live in the United States, had better
understand how religious, moral and culture issues are handled
by our secular media.
HOMILETICS: You refer to the culture by
saying that the culture sends us signals. What is a signal
and what are some examples of a signal?
MATTINGLY: A signal is a single piece of mass media that
addresses a subject of interest to the church. A signal is
when a secular media form invades turf the church cannot surrender.
This could be on marriage and family, sexuality, materialism,
war and peace, the meaning of life itself. We went through
this incredible spell in the 80s where the Baby Boomers in
Hollywood started hearing their clocks tick, and I interviewed
a lot of people out there, and they also said that the AIDS
crisis brought up issues of mortality in Hollywood, so we
had this wave of movies about life after death. Remember that?
It's kind of what I call the Hollywood Heaven period from
about '89 to '93, Ghost being the most commercially successful.
That's a signal. I mean, how in the world would a pastor ignore
When I was teaching at Denver Seminary, after the Los Angeles
riots, I had half my students call white pastors and half
black pastors to see who had preached on the past Sunday about
the riots. Not one white pastor had preached on the riots,
whereas all the black pastors did. One preaching tradition
said it was okay to link the Bible, to address what was happening
in the culture to the Bible, the other didn't. One had a missionary
approach to preaching, an apologetic approach to preaching
the black church. The white church was: "And now
we continue on with what we were doing last week."
HOMILETICS: What are some recent signals
MATTINGLY: Oprah putting her hands in the air with candles
on an altar praying to the universe. How about that one? But
let's take a positive signal. Sometimes we have a tendency
to focus on the negative. The entire status of religion in
the U2 tour this last fall the Elevation Tour. And
the amazing stuff that was going on with Bono's kind of renewed
faith on stage with him praying from the Psalms. And him talking
openly about religious faith and Third World debt relief and
the weird sight of Jesse Helms and Bono embracing each other
with tears in their eyes talking about how much they need
people in the Third World. Duh! That's fascinating.
Stem cells. How could you avoid the religious context of
the stem cell situation? In film, the rising new wave of pop-Buddhism,
or Hollywood Hinduism, best exemplified by The Matrix, Hidden
Dragon, Crouching Tiger. We're watching an amazing rise of
a kind of commercialized/ Americanized Buddhism, a Buddhism
stripped of all social context.
HOMILETICS: Our kids are living in this
culture where they're being bombarded with what you call visual
sermons. You tell this fascinating tennis shoe story of the
Jewish Orthodox family.
MATTINGLY: Oh yeah, the tennis shoes. That is how I developed
my concept of how you take a signal into the pulpit. It was
Sukkoth, the Old Testament Feast of Tabernacles. I'm over
in west Denver in the old Orthodox neighborhoods and I'm sitting
in the home of this Orthodox rabbi, and they have their tabernacle,
their booth, built in the back, and he's explaining all the
ins-and-outs of this intricate counter-cultural event to me.
Into the room walk the rabbi's two sons, who needless
to say - do not look like the teens you meet at the food court
at the mall. The ornate yarmulkes, to the pin curls over their
cheeks to the twine, to the prayer boxes hanging on their
belts. As I continue to scan down, I see their feet and they're
wearing Nike's Air Jordans unlaced. In my brain, the first
thing that entered my brain was, "You can run, but you
can't hide. One way or another, the culture's going to get
you." The second thing that entered my mind was a story
from the Detroit News that was breaking in the early 90s,
which was the trend that teens in urban neighborhoods were
being killed for their tennis shoes, that the value of human
life in some impoverished urban settings had fallen below
the cost of a set of certain types of tennis shoes. And then,
on the heels of that, came that wonderful moment in The Chronicles
of Narnia in "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,"
where the animals, giants and people have been turned into
stone. And Aslan breathes on the foot of a giant who has been
turned into stone. And they say, "Is it dangerous?"
And Aslan says, "No it's okay. If the feet are right,
the rest will follow."
There's this whole rich biblical tradition of the spiritual
meaning of feet. You can run, but you can't hide. If the culture
has your feet, the rest will follow. Later, when I was unpacking
that sequence that happened in my brain, was the idea of how
you walk a signal into the pulpit. You have to try to analyze
the secular person who sent the signal. What were they trying
to say? What is the big subject, the Big Button subject? They
trying to punch a Big Button: love, hate, lust, anger, war,
fear, parenting, etc. Most of our popular culture tries to
get a Big Subject. What does it mean to be a man? What does
it mean to be human? What does it mean to forgive somebody?
Wouldn't it be great if you could be born again? Billy Graham
does movies about that, but so did The Matrix. I call this
the Secular Subject. You won't find the Matrix in the concordance
of your Bible, but you will find rebirth, life after death.
So since the church is an army marching through time made
out of the same kinds of human beings, we shouldn't be surprised
that the church throughout history has had to deal with the
same subject because a person standing in Antioch looking
up into the sky is remarkably like a person standing and looking
into the sky in West Palm Beach. A lot of the same Big Subjects
So you have is the Signal, the Secular Subject, what I call
the Sacred Subject, and then you have to find a way to respond.
And what I argue what the church has to do in its preaching
is to be willing to quote the Secular Subject, admit that
it has impact and importance. Go into the pulpit and quote
the popular culture.
HOMILETICS: There are other approaches
to the culture.
MATTINGLY: You can run through the various Neibuhrian options
in Christ and Culture. You can debate the culture. There's
an awfully lot of popular culture that is not worthy of debating.
But sometimes when something hits the cover of Time, and the
people in your church are talking about it, it's okay to go
ahead and talk about it in the pulpit.
HOMILETICS: This is an apologetic emphasis.
MATTINGLY: This is the translation, exegesis of the culture.
It's what the church has to do or it's not speaking the language
of its people.
HOMILETICS: But not everyone agrees with
MATTINGLY: Of course. Separatism is alive and well. But you
know what? I haven't spotted a whole lot of separatism even
in hard-shelled fundamentalism anymore. If you don't see the
impact of media and popular culture on how people spend their
time, how they spend their money and how they make their decisions,
you have a promising future in ministry to the Amish.
Except this isn't funny. Even the Amish are now printing
brochures to help parents recognize signs of heroin addiction.
There are Amish heavy metal bands playing weekend parties
in Pennsylvania. There was something perverse about the Amish
country having to have a Y2K committee. What a wonderful moment!
They were worried about what would happen to sales of quilts
if MasterCard went down!
HOMILETICS: Or, you try to duplicate the
MATTINGLY: The photocopy technique. The "Christian"
adjective thing. Christian aerobics, Christian cappuccino,
Christian counseling. And I do not oppose some of that, but
when that is your primarily approach to culture, it's not
healthy. That takes us out of the church and more into the
creation of culture, which is one of the reasons I spend my
life now teaching young Christians to go into screenwriting,
journalism the actual forms of culture that matter
to the vast overwhelming majority. I don't we should settle
for preaching to the choir.
HOMILETICS: Or, we could simply bless
MATTINGLY: The right wing tends to do that more on economic
and military issues; the left tends to do it on issues of
sexuality and morality. We baptize the culture. Obviously
I am indebted to Neibuhr but he deals with "high"
culture, whereas I am trying to drag those constructs kicking
and screaming to the pop culture. There's a sixth option by
the way for which there's just no biblical justification at
all, and that's to pretend that none of this matters. I would
argue that that's what most churches functionally do. That's
the option I call separation of church and life.
HOMILETICS: I love the story you told
about the Japanese tennis players.
MATTINGLY: You're going to ask me to pronounce those names!
HOMILETICS: Fake it.
MATTINGLY: [Laughs] I could look them up. Yeah, I use that
story in an article on journalism. It's an image Bob Reiner,
one of my mentors, uses for Christian journalism. These two
Japanese pro tennis players got tired of being beat up playing
Wimbleton and the U.S. Open and the like. So they went back
to Japan and founded what became the Japanese Tennis Tour
and they loved being big fish in a little pond, but they never
became the tennis players they were capable of becoming. That's
his image for what most Christians do when they settle for
writing for Christian in Christian magazines, for Christian
television, for Christian music, books that are only sold
in Christian bookstores. That's the preaching-to-the-choir
HOMILETICS: Is there a religious bias
in journalism? Do journalists think that people of deep religious
faith are of their rocker?
MATTINGLY: Last year a writer in the New York Times Sunday
Magazine hauled off and said that it is a given assumption
that for most of us living in the world we live in (meaning
the New York Times) that people who believe in absolutes are
crazy. And I think that is a wonderful working assumption
for the press. My problem is in getting any liberal to agree
that any bias is real, and my other problem is to get conservatives
to admit that there are biases that have infinitely more influence
than mere prejudice, that the simple biases of not having
enough space to print all the news you want, or not enough
cash to hire the reporters you want the bias of space,
time and resources I call it. And then there's the bias of
knowledge: they simply do not understand. A bias of world
view. It's hard to cover a story if you don't care if it exists.
Ultimately you get down to the fact that on some issues,
there are actual statistical biases that affect coverage.
The closer you get to the bedroom, the more evidence there
is of statistical bias in newsrooms. What I mean by that is
on the issue of sexuality primarily abortion and the
moral status of sex outside of marriage whether its premarital
sex, homosexuality, whatever the shape of the sexual debate
the polls indicate that on abortion, for example, 92-95%
of all journalists in America are pro-choice, and if you don't
think that affects coverage, I got some land in Louisiana
that might interest you. On issues of homosexuality, the stats
are almost the same.
That great Catholic theologian, Maureen Dowd at the
height of Zippergate or Fornigate, or whatever at the
time when she was attacking Clinton's attackers, there was
one column where she said, "The Republicans are trying
to repeal Woodstock." It all comes down to whether you're
for or against Woodstock, i.e. are you for or against the
sexual revolution. You know what? I think she's absolutely
right. If you look at the moral issues that rivet our culture
whenever elections come up, it comes down to whether anyone
in this culture has a right to say that sex outside of marriage
is sin. I didn't say a crime. A sin. Is it even possible to
say that in American popular culture, and yet that's a position
that goes all the back to the early church, a moral given
in a New Testament universe.
HOMILETICS: If you had a room full of
pastors and could say only one thing to them, what would you
MATTINGLY: I'd tell them that Mick Jagger is about to turn
60. Thinking that all of this has to do with the youth culture
is howling stupidity
HOMILETICS: All of what?
MATTINGLY: Even discussing the relevance of popular culture
in the church whether it is popular music, film, or television.
Baby Boomers were raised on television. We haven't even comprehended
that. Lyle Shaller, the United Methodist Church growth expert
(that sounds vaguely oxymoronic) told me once in an interview
in Denver. He said, "If you think the Baby Boomers were
media-driven, wait until you see their children." Then
he said, and I can almost quote it verbatim: "Everything
they know about everything they either learned from the media
or what they think they know, they see it in a frame created
by what they learned from the media." They even hear
their parents' voices speaking to them from a frame of reference
from television and film about what parents are, what teenagers
are, what a man, what a woman is. The content of their minds
and souls is either mass media or what has been framed by
HOMILETICS: But parents have encouraged
this immersion in media.
MATTINGLY: Yes. Marie Linn, in her classic book, Plug and
Drug, defines television as a drug admnistered by parents
to their children to make them docile because it seems easier
than creating rules and lifestyle codes in the home and than
to raise the kids themselves.
HOMILETICS: And then Junior grows up and
MATTINGLY: And Mom sits in the kitchen watching Regis and
whoever's sitting in Kathy Lee's seat.
HOMILETICS: Much has been said about the
movement from an oral culture to a print culture to an electronic
culture. But isn't the electronic culture really a new version
of the oral culture?
MATTINGLY: Not an oral culture. We live now in a visual culture.
There's the famous quote from founder of MTV: "We're
not here to give them messages; we're here to give them a
kick in the gut." We live now in a culture that dominated
by visuals that provoke experience, feeling and emotion.
HOMILETICS: But is it that much different
from the stained glass windows of the medieval cathedrals?
MATTINGLY: No. I disagree. About half the ads on television
today make no sense whatsoever in a linear fashion in terms
of having anything remotely to do with the product. They're
getting across an attitude, a mood. They're asking, "Do
you want to be the kind of person who uses this product?"
One ad theorist has said that "they presume the product
has a soul." If you think as a sacramental Christian,
people are taking communion at the mall. They are consuming
the product, the soul of the product, to become the essence
of the product. It's a liturgical experience. They're taking
communion at the mall! They are what they eat, which is the
essence of the ancient church's definition of communion.
So the visual culture primarily speaks to experience and
emotion, and by the way, I am not saying that visual media
is bad. To use the Reformed tradition's language, "God
is the God of all creation, but glorious and fallen."
I believe that. I am not opposed to television or film. But
if you have a culture in which those are the only forms of
media that people used for the critical moments, the dominant,
statistical moments of their lives, what does that culture
look like? I would argue it's a culture that makes most of
its decisions based on feelings, emotions, and experience.
HOMILETICS: And isn't that the culture
in which we're living?
MATTINGLY: That's the culture we live in. And this finally
gets us to your question about absolutes. There are no absolutes
in a culture based on feelings and experience. The phrase
I use in my class, "The Church in the Age of Entertainment,"
at the end of my opening lecture, I say to students: "I'm
going to say something that you will not understand now, but
at the end of the class you will. You live in a culture that
is technologically hostile to the very concept of doctrine."
In a culture dominated by visual technology there is no place
for absolute truth.
HOMILETICS: So how do we fight that battle?
MATTINGLY: Part of the answer is to recognize that it wouldn't
be better if we lived in a totally print culture. My church,
the Orthodox church, has a high concept of the visual. Icons
are taken rather seriously. The visual is a sacrament! When
an Orthodox iconographer creates an icon, we do not say that
he or she paints it, we say they write it, because an icon
reveals truth in visual form. The emotions and the feelings
and the experiences that take place when you face the icon,
they are real and holy and they are of God, but you "write"
the icon because that visual image is still subservient to
Scripture and to the teaching tradition of the Church. The
Word is still master of the image.
We live in a culture where the icons have become unleashed
from the words. Icons rule.
HOMILETICS: Can that change?
MATTINGLY: I have no clue. Some people think that the Web
is by its very nature a word and image environment. I think
it is at this point in its history; I have no idea what happens
when fiber optics and satellites gets everyone up to full
motion video. I think anyone who does think they know what's
going to happen is lying.
HOMILETICS: How do we retain value and
integrity of doctrinal creeds and statements. Is there any
value and place for creeds anymore?
MATTINGLY: Well, they don't call us Orthodox for nothing!
HOMILETICS: Well, duh.
MATTINGLY: Living without them screws up your life and makes
you unhappy. The human race doesn't reinvent the wheel every
day. We have to argue for the relevance of transcendent truth
and creed. It's the essence of biblical faith.
HOMILETICS: But that also places a Christian
in a tension, because on the one hand, you're living with
an affirmation of an absolute belief, but on the other hand,
you are also positioned in a culture that denies the existence
of such absolutes.
MATTINGLY: Exactly. The average person doesn't want to live
with absolutes. He or she just really wants to pick and choose.
Even an ardent Yankee liberal, if I can be so howlingly stereotypical
HOMILETICS: As opposed to an ardent
MATTINGLY: Right, who have their conventions in a phone booth.
Okay, let's be safer. Your typical northeast-establishment
liberal. They wanted absolute truth in South Africa. They
wanted the transcendent laws of justice then. They just don't
want absolutes that govern their wallets, schedules, or sex
lives. Which brings me back to Maureen Dowd. The essence of
our culture today is "Who's for or against Woodstock."
Which, by the way, all over America there are people who claim
to be cultural conservatives, who are allowing their children
to be raised at the mall with everyone else. And the church
is doing nothing to help them. Their church's silence is allowing
those young people to be raised within the materialistic,
sexist, morally-libertine framework of America's commercially
popular culture. I don't see great laughs about the Baptists
taking Disney on. I haven't found any Baptists that even took
that seriously. Parenthesis: I think it's awfully funny that
a decade or so it was okay for the left to boycott Disney
because of their cultural imperialism in the Third World,
blanketing the world with this shoddy, commercial American
culture, but when the Southern Baptists get mad at Disney
that's not okay. The Southern Baptist's critique of Disney
is amazingly similar to the left wing's criticism of Disney,
only on different issues.
HOMILETICS: What is your take on Cal Thomas
and Ed Dobson?
MATTINGLY: First of all, they didn't say the church or Christians
should retreat from the public square. They said ministers
should get out of the public square. They said, "Don't
use structures created by God to do politics." Politics,
they said, should be done by Christians who are called to
do politics. And they held up as worthy the calling of Christians
who work in politics.
Their critique is remarkably similar to Stephen Carter's.
Carter makes the point that what is happening to the religious
right as it marries the GOP is remarkably similar to the moral
neutering of the civil rights movement when it married the
Democratic party. What was more important than the Dobson-Thomas
book was the Paul Weyhrich letter of two years ago, in which
he said that we've lost the culture wars. He said that even
Bush's compassionate conservatism is built primarily on a
culture of emotion and feeling and wanting people to do the
right thing for what he would argue is the wrong reasons.
We live in Oprah America. The dominate dialogue of our culture
is feeling, emotion, and experience.
HOMILETICS: I taught a class once in which
the name Gloria Steinem came up. No one, including the women,
knew whom I was talking about. When I asked them what feminist
voices they were listening to, they didn't reference Wolf,
Faludi, or Mackinnon. They said, "Oprah."
MATTINGLY: You know what? I think Orpah is a feminist and
she's an amazingly doctrinaire feminist on issues of gender
feminism and certainly on issues of the sexual revolution.
What's so funny is that you've got millions and millions of
women who think of themselves as conservatives, but also think
of Oprah as their buddy. She's consistently liberal, especially
on moral and cultural issues. She's managed to communicate
warmly to the average American woman without conveying how
truly radical some of her views are. She's the essence of
the victim culture: the woman as victim. That's not what feminism
was supposed to be. But I think most people would agree that
that's a piece of what modern feminism has become: You're
a victim. Get mad, get angry, get even.
HOMILETICS: Do you really think it would
be wise for a pastor to get in the pulpit and start attacking
Oprah or Martha Stewart?
MATTINGLY: I would certainly quote Oprah. Even more important,
note what Oprah won't say about her private life. Ultimately,
I really do think that how people live, matters. This whole
idea which is very Jewish that it doesn't matter
what the picture is, what the words are, it matters what your
flesh is. Orthodox Jews want to know when you took a bath,
what you had to eat, how far you walked today. The ultimate
standard for traditional Judaism is human life. The God of
the Old Testament didn't even want vowels. The ultimate standard
for the God of the Bible is human flesh and real life. This
life is not an illusion. Which then, of course, gets us as
Christians to the incarnation.
HOMILETICS: How can pastors become more
MATTINGLY: First, every pastor should have some sort of mechanism
to get feedback from their congregation before they preach.
If they ask media question, the people will give them media
answers that will help. If the pastor asks if anyone can think
of good films and TV that links to the text, you better believe
people will start talking. Again, the point is not to let
the media to set the agenda for the church. I believe the
opposite of that. The purpose is to respond when the media
invade the territory of the church. So pastors should take
notebooks to movies.
Pastors should notice when a film attracts the attention
of the New York Times, or the Washington Post, or the Los
Angeles Times. Some pastors have Web buddies, a small group
of like-minded preachers, to cast a wider net, so that if
one of them sees a film, or someone spots a trend in D.C.
they send it to their Web buddies.
Pastors should pretend they're missionaries, and act like
a missionary going into foreign territory seeking to learn
how people spend their time, money, and make their decisions.
If they do that, they will find ways to interact with the
HOMILETICS: Isn't that how you define
MATTINGLY: How you spend your time, how you spend your money,
how you make your decisions. There's more to discipleship
than this, but there's never less. No one can talk about being
a disciple of Jesus Christ without answering those questions.
HOMILETICS: What's the most exciting thing
happening in the church today?
MATTINGLY: I'm excited about people wanting to look at the
life of the ancient church for examples of how to pray, how
to fast, how to live, how to be a parent, how to die. As an
Orthodox, I'm excited that a lot of people are asking about
the ancient church, because Orthodoxy has a horse in that
race. If they dig into those subjects, they're going to end
up talking to us. And I say that as someone who was raised
I'm excited that people want to preach well. Again, if the
theory is that you have to know the people you're preaching
to, how can you do that without knowing something about the
role mass media plays in our culture? I'm excited that more
people want to preach well, because I don't think you can
learn to preach well without wanting to.
One of my cause celebs is that I think we should be doing
a national campaign for Christian homes to only contain one
TV. Notice I didn't say no TV. One TV. So families could establish
something common about how that medium is used.
HOMILETICS: When they worship at the holy
MATTINGLY: When they worship at the holy altar of TV. If
they are going to live in a pretend world established by television,
wouldn't it be nice if they at least lived in the same one?
Instead of Mom over here with one TV, sis with one TV, and
big brother with one TV, and Dad in the den with ESPN set
up on a drip tube? Then we wonder why these people can't talk
to each other. They're being socialized by different universes.
HOMILETICS: We've got to wrap up. So let's
talk about the beard. What's with the beard? It's not an Orthodox
thing. It looks Mennonite.
MATTINGLY: The story behind the beard. I was on vacation,
and there was a health crisis in the life of the Archbishop
HOMILETICS: Who was Casey. James
MATTINGLY: Casey. Before Francis Stafford became Archbishop-
HOMILETICS: -He's no longer there.
MATTINGLY: He's now Cardinal for the Laity and I correspond
with him by e-mail from the Vatican. And the new Archbishop
of Denver, Chaput, is one of the only churchmen in America
doing what you and I are talking about. In the wake of Columbine,
Chaput preached on The Matrix. Chaput is one of the only churchmen,
let alone an archbishop, who gets it. He hosted the U.S. Conference
on Technology and Catholicism. Fascinating.
So I was up in the mountains, and the Rocky Mountain News
for whom I was working then, called me back against my will-
HOMILETICS: -Why did they call you back.
MATTINGLY: Because I was the only one who could speak Catholic.
I think I was in Telluride or something on the other side
of the mountains. So I came back and stopped shaving in protest
to let them know I was miffed.
It is a Mennonite beard, although I am not Mennonite beard.
I didn't know the history at the time. I just had a friend
who had a beard like it. The Mennonites grew the beard without
a mustache as a protest to the Prussian military. Remember
the photographs of the Prussian generals with the big handlebars?
They grew different shapes of mustaches to symbolize their
military rank. So the Amish, Mennonites and the Anabaptist
shaved theirs off as a protest.
HOMILETICS: So you have no military rank
MATTINGLY: No military rank whatsoever which would shock
some people who think I'm an arch-conservative. The other
thing is, I simply don't have a mustache. There's just nothing
there. And I've figured out that 90% of the hassle of having
a beard has to do with the mustache. Abraham Lincoln said
that he grew a beard so that it would look like he had a chin,
so I tell people that I grew a beard so that it would look
like I only had one.