If you watch a lot of pop-culture award shows (confession: I don't do that anymore), then you know that a certain amount of generic God talk is normal and acceptable.
On sports awards shows, and sometimes the Grammy Awards, you will even hear people offer gratitude to "my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ," or similar phrases.
You will, of course, also hear plenty of political announcements, off-color humor and endorsements of various progressive social causes. Right now, pop superstars seem determined to make statements that will eventually show up in Donald Trump campaign ads, demonstrating what the cultural elites think of lots of folks in flyover country.
This is the wider media context for discussions of Chris Pratt's interesting "Nine Rules For Living" sermonette during the recent MTV Movie & TV awards. You can click here to watch this MTV moment or look at the end of the CNN.com report to read a transcription of what he had to say (or part of it -- hold that thought).
I also wrote a GetReligion post on this topic, focusing on the fact that Pratt's remarks were a red-hot topic on Twitter, but didn't push any "news" buttons in elite newsrooms, especially in the world of print news. Now "Crossroads" host Todd Wilken and I have done a podcast on this topic and you can click here to tune that in.
* The original GetReligion post on this topic focused on the simple, but hazy, question: Were Pratt's remarks newsworthy. It's clear that if Pratt had (a) discussed Trump, pro or con, or (b) discussed LGBTQ rights (pro or con), then it would have been news. If he had discussed to state of his love life and recent divorce, that would have been news. Instead, he offered remarks linked to his evangelical Christian faith. This is not "news," even in an age when explicit faith is supposed to be private?
* It's interesting to note that Pratt pretty much stated what he was doing, in rule for life No. 4., in which he said:
When giving a dog medicine, put the medicine in a little piece of hamburger and they won't even know they're eating medicine.
What does that have to do with this event? My translation: The "medicine" here is Pratt's words on faith, prayer, God, grace and the care of the human soul. The "hamburger" was his slightly off color toilet humor -- which is normal territory for MTV-level humor. People laughed at the hamburger, which helped hide the scandalous (but not newsworthy) nature of his Christian witness. He admitted that he was being sneaky.
* So what was Pratt's BIG IDEA? Maybe this:
You have a soul. Be careful with it.
Or was it this?
God is real. God loves you, God wants the best for you. Believe that, I do.
Or maybe it was this long finale, representing points No. 8 and 9:
Learn to pray. It's easy, and it is so good for your soul.
Nobody is perfect. People will tell you that you are perfect just the way that you are, you are not! You are imperfect. You always will be, but there is a powerful force that designed you that way, and if you are willing to accept that, you will have grace. And grace is a gift. Like the freedom that we enjoy in this country, that grace was paid for with somebody else's blood. Do not forget that. Don't take that for granted.
* Now, when I read this text, I was curious about something. Where was Pratt's usual reference to Jesus Christ, to his Lord and Savior? (A few people wrote me to note this same point.) I mean, watch his first remark from an earlier awards show, featured in this collection of clips:
The MTV remarks, however, were free of explicit "Jesus" or "Christ" talk.
Or were they? When I first read this text and watched the official MTV video, I wondered why he carefully avoided the name of Jesus. Who, after all, is the "somebody" in the equation about "grace" and the shedding of blood? That's a pretty strong reference to the Atonement.
Under normal circumstances, I am not under conspiracy theory YouTube work. However, watch the video at the top of this post.
I would imagine that producers at an MTV show are working with a SERIOUSLY long digital delay between when words are spoken (or perhaps even body parts flashed) and when an image reaches screens. Thus, this Infowars.com (yes, I know) clip argues that something interesting may have happened right in the middle of this statement in rule No. 9 -- after the word "way."
You are imperfect. You always will be, but there is a powerful force that designed you that way, and if you are willing to accept that, you will have grace.
Look at the position of Pratt's hands before and after the editing cut from a camera on the left and then a camera on the right.
Did MTV leaders remove the typical Pratt reference to "Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior"? Was that language too offensive for this audience?
I don't know, but I would love to know if this clip was a web-feature MTV edit that contrasted with the content on the live show. Did anyone see the original broadcast? Was there "Jesus" talk?
Let me know. Oh, and enjoy the podcast.