CBS Producers

Producers John P. Blessington and Liz Kineke from CBS Religion and Culture Series spoke to New York’s Religion Communicators Council at lunch today in a conference room in the Mormon temple near Lincoln Center.

The two talked about their love for producing television documentaries on topic’s like this year’s line up — unemployment, the environment, immigration, and pluralism — all from a faith perspective.

Melissa Crutchfield's hands at a memorial for Sam Dixon in Haiti. A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose.

The two won a 2011 Wilbur award from the RCC for their documentary, “Haiti: Religion’s Response to Disaster,” which featured my colleague, Melissa Crutchfield, disaster relief exec at UMCOR, (you can hear her on Youtube at: I didn’t see the Haiti documentary but I think it included the story of our beloved UMCOR colleague Sam Dixon who died after being trapped in the collapsed Hotel Montana in Port-Au-Prince.

Blessington spoke about making the decision to focus on Haiti, even though, “We knew there would be fatigue on the issue of Haiti.” The producers didn’t shoot new footage in Haiti, but relied on B-roll from Church World Service and other faith-based relief agencies.

The discussion was mostly in the form of a Q and A. I asked if the producers would consider another topic that is often seen as heated and confrontational in culture and religion — sexuality as a gift from God. I mentioned the cover story in today’s New York Times about the struggle of evangelical college students to affirm their sexuality identity.

But Blessington said they couldn’t cover that. Any television show on sexuality and religion would irritate too many viewers he said. Hmmmmm..

That’s too bad since their documentaries seems in-depth and compassionate. And on compassion, Blessington mentioned that he loves the Charter for Compassion. And who doesn’t? How can you not love a charter that overleaps religious differences to unite the world through the golden rule?

The CBS Religion and Culture series website is pretty lame, but they’re working on it. You can check out when their documentaries will be released and in which local markets at:

As always, the couple of dozen religious communicators in attendance were pretty interesting people — Christian Scientist, Mormon, Jewish, Catholic. I chatted with a guy who is producing events called Laugh Out Loud to end bullying through laughter.

So the luncheon started with a discussion on Haiti and religion, and ended with laughter and bullying. And that’s my report from this month’s RCC luncheon.

Only Connect

Last night I saw The Social Network on DVD (Thanks, SAG!). It totally captured the irony of this connected life. The movie also questions the primacy of male nerd culture, the difficulty in small business start ups, and the ownership of creative ideas.

In a closing scene Zuckerberg is left alone in a corporate office right after a potential friend declines his dinner invitation. He opens his computer to Facebook befriend her online. It is lonely, true. Yet, the scene reminds me that when the real world stings of rejection, having an onscreen persona can ameliorate the sting.

There is a place for online meet ups. For example, today I’m hoping to meet some of my fellow NaNoWriMo writers whom I’ve only received emails from during national novel writing month. Having companions while being a lonely writer has led me to greater compassion for other writers. I am grateful for my writing compatriots’ inspiration and productivity prompts. I’m grateful for real life workmates too. I’m always IM’ing my work buddy for motivation on being more productivity (Thanks, Beth!).


The president reminds the nation to connect in his awesome inspiring address this week:

“Use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy, and remind ourselves of all the ways our hopes and dreams are bound together.”

I have written before about being wired to care and seeing my own need for compassion as a weakness and not a strength, especially on the job (which, I know, is ironic, given that I work at a Christian agency.)

I think my desire to connect and be compassionate and have compassion is okay. It is bound up with my innate and human drive to be part of a community.

I have no idea why I receive weekly emails from Rector Bill Tully of St. Bart’s Church, but I’m glad that I do. (I should visit this church for my church a day (week) blog )

Tully is one of those brilliant church people who is addressing and writing about the need for connection and community.

This week he says, “…America is a hothouse of communities. In towns, cities, neighborhoods, congregations, clubs, schools, service projects, even in offices and places of work, we have a chance to practice the known virtues of love.”

Tully quotes our President too, who said:

“I believe that for all our imperfections, we are full of decency and goodness, and that the forces that divide us are not as strong as those that unite us.”

What he said.