by Jay Dunlap
Tuesday, Aug 12, 2008 3:12 PM Comment
astonishing facts leading to two powerful and timely conclusions.
Fact one: When Jesus Christ decided
to spread devotion to his Sacred Heart, he revealed himself from 1673-1675 to
St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, a holy, sweet, obscure, young nun described by The
Oxford Dictionary of Saints as ?patient and charitable, but also
clumsy and impractical.?
Fact two: When Jesus Christ decided
to spread devotion to his Divine Mercy, he revealed himself in 1931 to St.
Faustina Kowalska, a holy, sweet, obscure young nun with only three years of
Fact three: Indeed, when Jesus
Christ came into the world as God made flesh, he came through a holy, sweet,
obscure young woman we now venerate as our Blessed Mother, Mary.
First conclusion: Jesus makes
himself known in a special way through holy, sweet, simple young women.
Second conclusion: the Holy Spirit,
working through what would seem to be the least likely of human instruments, is
truly the original mass medium. Consequently, the Holy Spirit is in competition
with our man-made mass media.
Regarding that first conclusion: How
do we help a girl today to stay holy and sweet? In the world of MySpace and
Facebook, is anyone really obscure any more?
Take, for example, my 10-year-old
daughter, who is involved in Challenge, a girls? club that emphasizes faith,
charity and service. She aspires some day to participate in our local Pure
Fashion program, an eight-month program of faith formation that culminates in a
modesty fashion show. These programs are excellent, and she enjoys them.
But what really gets her excited are
the Disney movies and music aimed precisely at her age group: ?High School
Musical I & II,? ?Camp Rock,? and of course, the omnipresent ?Hannah
Montana.? We don?t even have cable television, yet in our home, these
productions are all the rage.
The two ?High School Musical? productionsquadrupled the Disney Channel?s profits in its first year; ?HSM II,?
when it debuted in August 2007, became the highest-rated basic cable program in
history. And, as a parent, what?s not to like about good, clean fun with upbeat
And yet ? there are indiscretions ?
not in the movies, but around them. When the actress who played Gabriella, the
female lead, suddenly became over-exposed on the Internet due to her own
immorality and bad judgment, I felt angry, as if my own daughter had been violated.
Because, in a sense, she had: here was her innocent, sweet-as-pie heroine,
suddenly splashed across computer screens as a lust object.
If our daughters are to grow up to
be the next generation of holy, sweet, simple young women that bring Christ to the
world as only they can, must they have no part of the media universe?
Consider again ?Hannah Montana.?
Here is life turned upside down and inside out. Miley Cyrus plays a character
who gets ?the best of both worlds? (as her theme song proclaims), because
during the day, she?s Miley Stewart, ordinary neighborhood girl, and only a few
know that at night she puts on a blond wig to become pop sensation Hannah
Montana. Who is it who doesn?t get the best of both worlds? The real-life Miley
Cyrus. Not only is she an over-exposed media darling at age 15, but her parents
consented to the egregious bad judgment of allowing her a semi-nude publicity
shoot for Vanity Fair. The girl has repeatedly
apologized for the photo shoot. Hmm. It seems to me it?s the parents who need
to apologize ? to us and our daughters.
So, on to conclusion two: The Holy
Spirit is the original mass medium. Is there anyone in all of history besides
the Holy Spirit who has been able to take the small, obscure and holy and make
it known throughout the world? To spread a message of love and mercy without
song, dance, and glitz?
Isn?t it true that in a basic way,
the other mass media compete directly with the Holy Spirit for a place in our
day ? a place in our souls? The point is not that we need to shut out all the
modern media. After all, a cloistered nun, Mother Angelica, created what is
today the largest religious media empire in the world. The point is that we
need a proper balance between modern media culture and our life of faith. We
need the time and space for our hearts ? and those of our daughters and sons ?
to be filled with the Holy Spirit and his unique messages.
Who knows in what way Christ will
come to us through our daughters, if we can keep them holy, simple and not
Jay Dunlap is a teacher in South
Bend, Ind., and the author of Raising Kids in the Media Age.