I’m always grateful to be a part of the #sharejesus video series, produced by Redeemed Online. I’m also really glad that after I did the video they took a nice picture of me (which you can see on this site), since I’ve yet to get any professional pictures of me sans beard.  I would have done the video for free, but the picture was a nice plus.

If you are blessed by this, check out some of their other amazing videos at http://redeemedonline.com.

Bob and Sunny

PHOTO: Me and Clayton Farris, who plays “Sonny”, on the “Ask J” set. 

There was a time when adolescence was considered to be a moment of asking the Great Questions in life: Why am I here? What is my purpose? Why is there suffering in the world? In previous generations they’d ask family members, a teacher, or a friend for the answer. But today, they ask Google.

The challenge with the Internet is that you can find any answer you want to any question you ask. Many people don’t realize that “information” is not the same as “wisdom”. Deluged by a variety of opinions, blogs, and posts, it is easy to see why this generation is so relativistic—how can there possibly be a right answer when there are so many possibilities?

At Franciscan University, we wanted to create a web series that, we hope, would make a young person realize that perhaps Google doesn’t have the answers to the “big” questions we ask. And that’s where we came up with the idea for “Ask J”.

“Ask J” is a five part video series that follows J, a new employee at the Internet, as he tries to answer questions like “Why is there suffering in the world?” and “YOLO, right?” The hope is that it could be used as a discussion starter in youth or young adult settings, or something that could be shared on the Internet with a friend to start up a discussion about the bigger things in life. I got to serve as the executive producer of this project and it was a real blessing to be involved in such a high-quality production.

When Jesus taught, sometimes He explained things directly; other times He used parables. I think a lot of Catholic media does the former but misses the latter. I can see why: it is cheaper and easier to film a talking head explaining this or that Church doctrine. It takes a lot more work and expense to tell a story. Yet young people respond far better to narratives than lectures, and so we tried to create a funny story with engaging characters that might draw the viewer into thinking about deeper issues.

The more these are watched and shared, the more likely we will get to keep doing projects like this at Franciscan. So please, link to these via your social media and share them with friends. We have a lot of other great ideas we’d like to bring to life!

A few years ago I was invited to be a part of an “Evangelization and Outreach” task-force that Franciscan put together. Barbara Nicholosi, a scriptwriter from LA (among other many talents), was brought in to discuss how we might create different kinds of media to evangelize youth and young adults. She made a simple statement that had a profound effect on me: “The best parables never mention God.” Up to that point, I hadn’t noticed that the majority of parables that Jesus told were about sowers, seeds, lost sheep, fathers and sons, and fig trees—but not specifically about God.

We decided in that task-force to create media that would be more of a parable than a teaching. There is nor shortage of “teaching” media in the Catholic Church, and I’m not remotely saying it isn’t important. But Jesus used both teaching and parables, and the latter is often missing in Catholic media today.

From a media standpoint, it is WAY easier to teach than to tell a story. Media focused on teaching can be done with a simple set, a few chairs, and educated people talking about a subject (like we have on the EWTN show, “Franciscan University Presents”). Telling a story means scripts, actors, directors, production schedules, location shots, makeup, audio, soundtracks, etc. It would take more time and money to make. It was also a bigger risk: the “enjoyment” of the story would be subjective, as tastes can differ drastically from one person to another. I was really proud that Franciscan took the leap.

The first fruits of this effort is called “Judgmental Moose”. The concept was to tell a parable about the seven deadly sins using the stuffed head of a moose as a “Jiminy Cricket” type of “voice of conscience”. The audience was young adults and we went for a fun, quirky style of story telling. We have two more series in the works… but more on those as they get released.

I’m really excited about the final product. It was a huge learning experience! I had no idea how much work and how many talented people were necessary to do something like this. I’d love to hear your feedback on these videos, and please share them with others!

 

In 2010 I was part of a video project called “CateQUIZ’em!” where we created a number of short films about chastity. This is one of them. To be honest, I had forgotten it existed! But that is the power of recorded stuff. It always comes back to haunt you. This has to be one of the strangest videos on chastity ever produced. See what I looked like before glasses and bow-ties.

Cuando recitas el Credo, ¿lo haces verdaderamente? ¿Sabes lo que estás diciendo? ¿Hay una diferencia entre creer que hay un Dios y creer en Dios?