Jennifer Fulwiler is a writer and speaker who converted to Catholicism after a life of atheism. She’s a contributor to the books The Church and New Media and Atheist to Catholic: 11 Stories of Conversion, and is writing a book based on her personal blog, ConversionDiary.com. She and her husband live in Austin, TX with their five young children, and were featured in the nationally televised reality show Minor Revisions. You can follow her on Twitter at @conversiondiary.
Sooo...I have a reality show that debuts next Thursday, the 13th. It's called Minor Revisions, and here's the trailer if you want to check it out:
There is no non-awkward way to make that kind of announcement. When friends asked me why camera crews were following me around everywhere I went for that week earlier this Fall, I tried mumbling something about being involved in a "docu-reality special," but after enough confusion I finally relented and admitted, "Fine! It's a reality show!" (which inevitably leads people to wonder with suspicion and concern what you have done to earn the dubious honor of being considered "reality show material").
This was the kind of thing I worried about when the producers at DeSales Media first contacted me about participating in this project. "Aren't reality shows for drama queen weirdos who don't have their acts together?" I wondered (which, once I thought about it, wouldn't necessarily rule me out as a candidate). On top of that, how could I trust that the editors would represent me fairly? More importantly, I worried that they wouldn't represent Catholic family life accurately, perhaps editing out the dirty dishes in the sink and only showing clips of my children sitting perfectly still and smiling prayerfully in church (which would, to be sure, have to be very short clips). On the other hand, what if they made it look like being Catholic is all toil and misery?
After talking to the producers, themselves faithful Catholics, I became convinced that they had a sincere interest in creating a show that would give viewers a glimpse into the Catholic life from one person's perspective, that would be humorous and real and maybe even inspiring. I didn't know how they'd get all that from my life, but I believed that they'd do the best they could. Out of some mix of trusting the Holy Spirit and morbid curiosity and taking Brandon Vogt's advice about going out on a limb to live a good story a little too seriously, I told them I was game. Camera crews showed up at my house a few weeks later.
Rather than focusing exclusively on our family, the executive producer and I decided to branch out to highlight all the great things going on within our parish, the diocese, and the entire Body of Christ. I had an ultrasound at the John Paul II Life Center's Vitae Clinic, and talked with obstetrician Dr. Jeremy Kalamarides about what it's like to be a pro-life OB in the culture of death, and the ways that his clinic is helping women in crisis pregnancies. I had coffee with our friend Professor Robert Koons, a philosophy professor at the University of Texas, and asked him what led him to covert to Catholicism, and what philosophical arguments he finds most effective when talking to atheists. I stopped by Abby Johnson's house and ended up in an hour-long discussion so riveting that the producer was left scratching her head, wondering how they could ever cut it -- at one point I literally got goosebumps from a certain story Abby told about her days at Planned Parenthood. I sought spiritual advice from our associate pastor, ended up with tears streaming down my face when our adult education director told me how the Lord delivered him from heroin addiction over 30 years ago, and encountered all sorts of other fascinating folks as I went about my weekly routine.
One thing the production crew and I share is that we all have a lot of friends and loved ones who are not Catholic, and so when we undertook this project we were passionate about creating something that people of all backgrounds would enjoy watching, that would also give them a taste of the joy of the Catholic life. We hoped to end up with a television program that would be truly entertaining -- and truly inspiring -- to people both inside and away from the Church.
I'm thrilled to say, I think that Minor Revisions accomplishes this mission. I haven't seen any full episodes yet, but the clips I've watched are coming together beautifully. Truly, 99.9 percent of the credit for it being a good show goes to the production crew and the editors, who got high quality footage and are working tirelessly to craft it into something worth watching. I'm encouraged by the dedication I've seen in the DeSales team, and energized by they passion they share for seeing Catholics dominate the arts once again. I'm excited to be part of this crazy new venture in Catholic media, and hope you'll be part of it as well.
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Minor Revisions will air on December 13, December 20, and January 10, all at 8 PM EST (7 PM CST). You can watch it online live at netny.net/watch-now. It will also air on the NET network in the NYC area (TimeWarner Ch 97 & Cablevision Ch 30), and it will be available as an on-demand show for Verizon FiOS subscribers. I'll be live-tweeting the show, so join me on Twitter to follow along (no Twitter account necessary).