New Online Course: John Paul II’s Vision for Theater and the Arts

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“I appeal to you, artists of the written and spoken word, of the theatre and music, of the plastic arts and the most recent technologies in the field of communication. I appeal especially to you, Christian artists: I wish to remind each of you that, beyond functional considerations, the close alliance that has always existed between the Gospel and art means that you are invited to use your creative intuition to enter into the heart of the mystery of the Incarnate God and at the same time into the mystery of man.” – Saint John Paul II, Letter to Artists

In writing my own book on John Paul II, I have developed a mini-library on the life and thought of Saint John Paul II. This has not only benefited my own purposes, but has also given me a new and profound respect for one of the greatest saints of recent history.

New Online Course: Discover the Beauty of the Butterfly Circus

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A few years ago the Doorpost Film Project hosted an online film contest that highlighted films that sought to “inspire.” Additionally, the contest was part of an effort to “reward aspiring and beginning filmmakers to make quality films.” In 2009, the winner of the yearly contest was The Butterfly Circus and the short film became immensely popular.

The Butterfly Circus was directed by Joshua Weigel and starred Nick Vujicic, Eduardo Verástegui (Bella) and Doug Jones (Pan’s Labyrinth, Fantastic Four). The movie was an instant hit and everyone who watched it gave rave reviews. Yet, not only was it a popular short film, it was a film that had such great depth and beauty that anyone who watched it could not help but cry by the end of it.

New Online Course: Discover the Beauty of the Butterfly Circus

In tandem with my new online course on The Giver, we will also examine this film and plum the depths of the twenty minute movie. The film is available for viewing online, and so it will be easy for everyone to watch and discuss it.

I will split up the film into four segments and dissect it, examining the profound truths that it makes us grapple with. I am eager to share this film with others and excited at the opportunity to share with you the many insights into life that the movie gives us.

The fee for the course is only $10 and can be registered for by using the “Add to Cart” link below. Also, please enter the email address you would like to receive the weekly reflection and link to discussion.The online course will start on October 9th and the registration deadline is October 1st. 

After entering your email address using this link, please return here and click on the “Add to Cart” link to pay the $10 fee for the online course.




New Monthly Course: Looking at Films and Literature with the Eyes of Faith

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With the recent release of The Giver into theaters, the popular young adult novel that the movie is based on has received a renewed interest. This is timely as The Giver is a book that should be read not only by all young adults, but also by everyone else.

If you have seen the movie, you know how powerful the story is and how prophetic it is for our times. Yet, while the movie does a great job relaying the essence of the book, there many elements that were changed or left out of the theatrical production. That is why it is always best to read the book that the movie was based on to get the full picture.

The Duggars and The Joy of Having Children

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Last week in the Russian capital of Moscow, the government sponsored an International Forum entitled, “Large family and the future of humanity.” The forum was attended by an array of delegates from around the world, who all saw the need to promote large families in order to help sustain society.

This comes at a time when the demographics of most Western countries are below replacement level and the results of a world without children are beginning to be felt in the economy. That is why more than ever we are in need of promoting the value and beauty of having children. It is fitting then that one of the most watched shows in the United States is about a family with 19 Kids and Counting.

The Duggar family has been the focus of a TLC reality TV show since September 2008. At the time of the first episode, the family had 17 children and were looked at as if they were apart of a circus sideshow. The average American family has 1-2 children and so a family that has more than that is quite strange and even bizarre. Yet, what TLC soon found out is that the Duggar family is attractive because their large family is not only unique, but a thing of beauty.

The Joy of Children

While the Duggar family is not perfect, the main sentiment that comes across from watching the popular TV show is the joy of having children. From the joy of Michelle having her 19th child to the excitement of Jill expecting her first, being pregnant and raising children is a constant source of happiness for the family.

The joy that is showcased on the show is something rare in American culture. Often children are looked upon as more of a burden, than a key to a happy life. Abortion and the rise in use of chemical contraceptives by married women show to the world that a child is inconvenient and hamper the mobility of a young couple. Changing diapers and disciplining children are seen as too costly of a sacrifice and so numerous men and women decide to limit their family size.

At the same time, the fact that 2.8 million viewers tuned in to the season finale of 19 Kids and Counting in May, shows that the large family is doing something right. In fact, many of the avid fans of the series have been influenced by the joyful witness of the Duggars and have in turn freely chosen to increase their family size.

The Duggars show the world that having a large family is actually a great blessing. What is always a beautiful sight to behold is how the Duggar children call their brothers or sisters their best friends. It is rare to find such love and affection among siblings and it is a direct result of having a large close-knit family.

Now everyone is not called to have 19 kids and in many cases it would not be advisable to have that number of children. Additionally, many married couples deal with infertility and would happily accept a large family, but are unable to fulfill their desires. However, a married couple should actively discern how many children God desires to bless them with and not dismiss God’s generosity (both naturally and by adoption). It can be overwhelming to think about having even 4 or 5 children and yet God does not give us something we can not handle. The Duggars have shown us that it is possible to have a joy-filled large family and encourage us to do something counter-cultural.

In an age where the demographics of society are crumbling, God calls us to respond in whatever way we can to His original command to Adam and Eve in the garden, “Be fruitful, and multiply.”

Previous Launch: Christopher Ruff’s Website

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About two years ago Christopher Ruff, currently the Director of the Office for Ministries and Social Concerns for the Diocese of La Crosse, came to me in hopes of bringing a more professionalized look to his personal website. Over the years he had developed a successful series of small-group discipleship studies for parishes and now he wanted to attract a wider audience.

Chris gave me a very specific goal: make a website that is clean, refined and rustic, while visually showcasing his studies in an attractive manner. He gave me some great examples of what he wanted his website to look like and I worked hard to replicate the style he preferred. At the same time, I made sure the website was unique and served his particular needs.

With the feedback of Chris, I was able to design a website that was visually attractive and that showcased his small-group discipleship studies and the timing turned out to be perfect. Shortly after we launched the website, Chris released his first small-group study on the Catechism and it turned out to be a great success.

www.christopherruff.com

Project Components:

  • Web design and development
  • Product enhancement

Chris Ruff