For too long we Catholics have focused a tremendous amount of energy and resources on preaching, teaching and service. While these pillars of Catholic life are essential, I think God did not intend for us to settle for a 3-legged stool. Think of all the children and young adults who experience 12 years of Catholic education, mass attendance, and service projects, who now abandon their faith. What used to be a tragic anomaly two generations ago has become the norm. We are missing something.
Many folks acknowledge that the missing leg on our stool is cultural. The sad truth is that currently our society, with contemporary storytelling in all its varied modern forms, seems hell bent on snuffing out the light of faith. There are courageous individuals creating great quality soul nourishing content. Consider this list of book titles from the Catholic Writer’s Guild. Talented faith filled movie makers are doing great work too. However, most of these titles are never discovered by the majority of Catholics because they are submerged under a deluge of material that is spiritually empty or morally toxic.
I have been nudged, dragged, called, and invited by God this past year to help create a mechanism to enable Catholics to easily find quality content that is food for the soul. It is emerging as a ministry called VIRTUE WORKS MEDIA.
The heart of the ministry is a system that will rate media, NOT on the amount of toxic content in it, but on positive attributes instead. The VIRTUE WORKS MEDIA list of 30 Everyday Virtues will become a lens through which we can look at media choices with eyes of faith. Think of it as Common Sense Media for the soul. Every current media content rating system highlights negative content in order to give consumers a head’s up about bad stuff in a book or movie. Problem is, the cumulative effect is that it creates a “forbidden fruit” or “coming of age” vibe that children and teens long to be old enough to read or watch it. Toxic media is never “age appropriate.” As Catholics, we can often expend tremendous energy advocating boycotts or to raise the alarm about evil in media. But often the publicity brings more attention to the bad stuff.
Regarding media and entertainment, perhaps we Catholics can become be known not so much for what we are against, but instead be known by what we are FOR. My hope is to help God shine a light on what is GOOD: in the media, in our Church and beyond. People of all faiths feel frustrated at times trying to look for truly good books and movies. It seems like we are all looking for a needle in a haystack. VIRTUE WORKS MEDIA will hand everyone an entertainment metal detector to find it. The good news is there are a lot of great needles in that haystack! Here are a few titles just to give a taste…
In order to make this happen, I’m embracing the philosophy of Wikipedia. I’m gathering what I call a Faith & Virtue Fellowship (think of the fellowship in the Lord of the Rings) of faithful Catholic individuals, who will use clearly stated reliable rubrics, to fill this collection. Titles can be religious or non-religious, contemporary or classic as long as they fall in line with the VIRTUE WORKS MEDIA Ten Commandments for Content and demonstrate virtue. They simply need to tell great stories. The narrative delivery device can include: novels, memoirs, story collections, biographies, picture books, movies, documentaries or short videos and more. “Curated content” is the future of the internet. With your help, VIRTUE WORKS MEDIA will curate the best, most easily searchable collection of virtue rich book and movie information on the planet.
Do you have a couple favorite faith and virtue rich titles that you think everyone should read or watch? Or maybe you’d like to plan to contribute one title per week. Whatever works for you is fine. Keep in mind that an author or director can not submit their own title. Exercise virtue and share the work done by someone else! Authors and media creators can team up and submit for each other. Just go here: Virtue Works Media Contributor Form and try out adding a title. The standards are high, but the process is simple. I’ll keep you posted on our progress as the platform is built and let you know when your entry goes live.
Getting this project funded is a HUGE task, for which I humbly ask for your prayers. Contact me if you, or someone you know, might be excited about being a venture philanthropist involved with this project. I have a deep confidence that this is a “GOD thing” and He will get it done. God willing, this will become a reality in 2017.
So, if you are a Catholic who cares deeply about our faith and the role of entertainment media in our society, try out being a VWM Contributor. It’s a great way to reflect on virtue and on why you like the books and movies you like. It’s an exercise in humility because it isn’t so much about you crafting a review with compelling and pithy words. (Although there is a little of that.) But the power of it is that as we create this hub, your contribution will never be lost on a list or buried in a blog that is nearly impossible for people to find. VIRTUE WORKS MEDIA is all about making virtue filled media information searchable and accessible in a modern way. The talented authors, directors and artists will create the content. VWM will simply present these wonderful gifts that honor God and delight the heart with an attractive, easy-to-open bow.
As a contributor, you can be a part of a seismic cultural shift. Let’s work together and shake things up. In a good way.
Author, Editor, Educator and VIRTUE WORKS MEDIA Ministry founder, Cathy Gilmore is pioneering an entirely new way to look at both print and visual media. Through the lens of virtue. This is the start of a movement in which Catholics can have clear rubrics and a dynamic platform that enables us to think about and recommend quality entertainment that offers soul satisfying content that is worth our time. You can find Cathy on twitter @PowerofParable or follow this blog at www.CatherineCGilmore.com. Contact Cathy at VirtueWorksMedia@outlook.com .
Cathy believes the God can use the power of parable to reshape culture and renew the face of the earth. Look for the Good. Offer it to everyone.