Matt Palmer is the former social media coordinator of Catholic Review Media.


August 2012
July 2012

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I think you have a bit of an overreaction. The thing is, the author wants to make a statement about this universe they have created. It is an oppressive regime that takes away the innocence of a child, or at worst a life, that keep the masses in fear. The more food they borrow, the more likely they will be picked. It is about coming from the poor and showing the upper class who's boss. (Especially in the end scene with Peeta and Katniss. "They don't have to have a winner.") As a society outside of the book, we don't condone these things by showing them on our screens and reading about them. You almost have to desensitize yourself in order to learn the message the series is trying to teach. You can't compare your morals regarding children death matches to this series because we didn't grow up where the Hunger Games looms annually. Instead, we have to look at it objectively and hopefully: better ourselves. Look at your nieces. There are two or more ways to interpret every story: Face value, where it is children in a death match for entertainment of the crowd. Or, with an analytical mind: a story of rags showing the upper class whose boss, and creating a revolution. A satire on how media in our world makes contestants in a dog-eat-dog world or for people to put themselves in danger for cheap media entertainment. (And many more ideas)


I found this video difficult to watch malniy because the people were so confused and affluent. Giving more money to someone will not guarantee that they will live out what God has planned for them. I felt sorry for them and would have liked to suggest to them that they give me some of their money and let me show them what to do with it. Seriously, I did not hear any of them speak about doing something for others or their moral beliefs.Interestingly, one of the interviewees mentioned how they went to a Christian school and was beaten up. I guess in that case his introduction to Christ was not a positive one. Some of the things that make the rich nervous also make poor nervous. The rich children worried about how to hold on to their money and the poor worry about how to get it. The rich are worried about someone knocking on their door saying you did not do something right, so now I am disowning you. The poor worry about someone knocking on their door saying your time is up and now you have to get out or bill collectors hounding them. There will always be worries that can overcome us when we live in a hollow life such as what was viewed.True freedom is knowing that God is in control and no matter what we see, these things are all temporal and we have a job to do. Seek the kingdom! All the other things will be added if we do the first step.These are just my thoughts..



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The Welcome Matt

The youth ministry infomercial offer you can't refuse


If you've ever met Pat Sprankle and Sean Comber, you know they are both creative and innovative. Pat's the youth minister at St. Louis in Clarksville and recently was honored with the Cardinal Shehan Award for his service. Sean is a college-aged young adult who has been a major contributor in recent years with Archdiocese of Baltimore youth and young adult multimedia presentations. 

Recently, the two got together to create a really cool video for St. Louis youth ministry in the form of an late-night informercial. It's both funny and informative. And, it comes at the low, low price of free. Sean was kind enough to answer some questions about how the video came together. Check out his answers below and watch the video.




Matt: How did you come aboard the project?

Sean: Pat Sprankle and I were talking around Christmas time about doing a new video for the St Louis CYM program because their old one was nearing the end of its life cycle and it was time to make some changes. To answer this question, it was simply being at the right place at the right time and having a conversation. 

Matt: Where did the idea come from?

Sean: We wanted something that would be fun to watch and grab attention, while still getting across important information. In my mind this could only lead to a cheesy informercial where the product being sold was the program.  

Matt: What got you pumped about doing something like this?

Sean: I really loved the concept of this video. Everything about this video was fun for me. It's fun to write something so crazy and it's fun to go into editing with the thought, "How can I make this absolutely insane?"  The idea that I can get away with cheesy 50s music and kids cheering when the offer is doubled, was incredibly fun for me.

Matt: How long was the shoot and at what locations?

Sean: The shoot was back in March and took place at St. Louis Parish in a classroom that is used as a multipurpose room. My crew arrived at around 2:30 p.m. and left around 10:30 p.m.. We also visited a few CYM activities and shot interviews. 

Matt: How did you guys get everyone in it to go along with it?

Sean: This was pretty easy. For the interviews we can simply tell people that we are shooting a promotional video and the general reaction is excitement. For the main characters, however, after talking about the idea and script, everyone seemed to be very interested in what we could pull off. 

Matt: How did you pull off the informercial look?

Sean: A lot of the informercial look came from the writing of the script. There are certain catch phrases that need to be a part of the video to make it look like a informercial such as: "But wait, we'll double the offer,"  "That's not all" and "Money back guarantee." All this combined with good acting, cheesy music and backdrop and the before and after shots make it really seem like an infomercial.

Matt: What program did you use to do the editing and sound?

Sean: All the video editing is done in Adobe After Effects and Premiere. All sound is edited in Pro Tools. 

Matt: Did you use any green screen?

Sean: This video is almost entirely green screen. With the exception of the interviews and the before and after shot, everything was shot on a green screen.  

Matt: Did you have to do a lot of takes with the cast?

Sean: Yes. We did a total of three runs of the script getting close shots, mid shots and full shots. Additionally, within each run we did at least four or five takes for each scene.  

Matt: How happy are you with the finished product?

Sean: I was very happy with how the finished product ended up. I was very pleased to see that all the jokes landed and the concept worked. Additionally I am pleased to see that the general consensus for the video is positive and everyone involved seems to be very happy with it. 

Matt: What's your favorite moment in there?

Sean: I love that we were able to do the obvious before and after shots with shaky footage and desaturated video turning into smooth vibrant footage. This was especially fun for me and really makes it into the stereotypical informercial.

Matt: Why is being involved in youth ministry, including as a young adult, so important to you?

Sean: I have learned a ton from being involved with youth ministry and I have been given a lot more opportunities to make myself known and be of use in the archdiocese because of youth ministry. I would not have been given the chance to make this video if I had not already know Pat Sprankle through other youth ministry related events. Youth ministry has opened more doors that I could have ever hoped for.

May 30, 2012 11:40
By Matt Palmer

Sun Editorial on Archbishop Lori, Archdiocese Wildly Misleading

On the day Archbishop Lori was installed as archbishop of Baltimore, The Baltimore Sun editorial board welcomed him with a lazy piece of journalism.
A May 16 editorial cited the archbishop’s religious liberty fight and said the Sun “would not presume to instruct the new archbishop” on his focus, while doing exactly that during the next few paragraphs.
The editorial said, “we hope these issues will not be the defining ones of his tenure here,” and said he would find great poverty outside the walls of the Baltimore Basilica. The editorial went on to say that the church, under Archbishop Lori’s predecessors, made substantial effort to address poverty, but that the needs “outstrip those efforts.”
The editorial then went on to say that the House of Representatives was going to make cuts detrimental to the poor and elderly and the archdiocese hadn’t released a statement about it.
The editorial asked, “Has the church lost interest in helping the least powerful in our community?”
No, and all it took was a simple Google search and some interest by the Sun’s reporters in the Maryland Catholic Conference to find out the opposite.
The MCC, the lobbying arm of Maryland’s bishops, spent considerable energy during the last few months fighting for the Maryland General Assembly to pass a budget that protected the most vulnerable. It’s as if the Sun ignored what the church was doing in its own backyard to fight for governmental protection of safety net programs. 
If the Sun ever questioned whether the Archdiocese of Baltimore cared about those in need, all it needed to do was have a reporter walk a few blocks to Our Daily Bread, Christopher’s Place Employment Academy, My Sister’s Place Women’s Center and Beans & Bread Center and see the extraordinary things happening thanks to the Catholic Church.  
If that’s not good enough, maybe one of the editorial board members could walk outside the Sun building and across the street to see the community of St. Ignatius on Calvert Street. Parishioners there make meals for the poor, help people recovering from surgeries and offer retreats for homeless men among many ministries.
What other religion is doing one-third of what the Catholic Church is doing in Baltimore?  What other religion has taken upon itself to educate millions of inner-city youths in schools, while making huge financial sacrifices in the process? The church doesn’t have to operate schools. It does so because it believes it should.
Rather than criticizing the archdiocese for its efforts and occasional closures, maybe it should be thankful that there is a religion making the effort in the city in the first place. The church’s efforts are saving the state and Baltimore millions of dollars every year by educating poor children.
If the Sun is worried about Archbishop Lori’s priorities, they should have sent a reporter to Our Daily Bread May 17, as the new shepherd of Baltimore’s Catholics was serving Baltimore’s poor a hot meal on his first day. 
But, they didn’t. Here's what they missed.

The Archdiocese of Baltimore is doing more than anyone else in Baltimore City every day to help the vulnerable.
Here’s the reality: the Sun views the Catholic Church’s everyday outreach as “dog bites man.”  It happens every day. It’s not a story to them and it’s taken for granted.
But, take away the Catholic schools, hospitals, parishes and outreaches and it’s arguable that Baltimore would crumble.
The church won’t do that, however, because the church doesn’t look at its efforts as burdensome. Instead, social teaching, outreach and education are part of the archdiocese’s DNA.
It’s something we do.
When hardships come, we adjust and re-organize because this is our calling and our mission. 
Speaking on the evening of his installation, Archbishop Lori, praised the organizations and projects of the archdiocese, "all of which exist so we can be true to the Gospel of Christ, all of which exist so we can serve our brothers and sisters just as the Lord would have us do."
Imagine how great it would be if other faiths organized on the level of the Catholic Church. Clearly the Sun hasn’t.

May 18, 2012 06:09
By Matt Palmer

One thumb up: Archbishop Lori praises new movie

Is Archbishop William E. Lori the new Roger Ebert? While he's just a day away from being installed as the 16th archbishop of Baltimore, the archbishop's new job might be film critic. 

According to a news release from The Maximus Group, Archbishop Lori, who is the chairman of the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, endorsed an upcoming movie, "For Greater Glory." The movie stars Oscar-nominee Andy Garcia, Oscar-winner Peter O'Toole and Desperate Housewives star Eva Longoria. 

“For Greater Glory is an excellent film that has the courage to tell a story that has been all but forgotten,” Archbishop Lori said. “The sacrifices and hardships endured by those who would not renounce Christ helped preserve the religious liberty of millions, and this film honors their memory in a remarkable way. For Greater Glory also reminds us of how much has been done to pass this liberty on to our generation by those who came before us, and it makes clear the truth that Christ taught us - that there is no greater love than to lay down one's life for a friend.”

For Greater Glory opens in theaters June 1, the same day as another epic, Snow White and the Huntsman, is expected to have one of the biggest box office weekends of the year. For Greater Glory details a fight against a Mexican dictator who banned religion in the country. 

Andy Garcia told CNSNews recently, "“It’s a fight for religious freedom, but really a greater umbrella it sits under is the concept of absolute freedom. There are countries all over the world right now that are still fighting, in the middle of a fight for those rights, and people have been deprived of those rights."
Watch the movie's trailer now:



Read more on my takes on pop culture and religion:

Snow White: The Ultimate Feminist  

Is Batman acting like Jesus?

Christians should be like the Avengers 

The pope and The Lorax

Bully movie is a must watch

Bully movie can make a difference 

The Hunger Games is real

October Baby is about an abortion survivor

Hunger Games violence controversy 

May 15, 2012 04:46
By Matt Palmer

The Dark Knight Rises Trailer: Is Batman Following Christ's Lead?

Ever since Batman Begins came out seven years ago, there has been a theme running through the series-- Bruce Wayne is seeking to become more than a man. As Batman, he becomes a symbol for hope, a legend and, hopefully, an inspiration for Gotham City's people to do good and not accept the evil around them.

The latest trailer for The Dark Knight has something interesting going on - it focuses on sacrifice. At one point, Batman is talking to Catwoman and she says, "You don't owe these people any more. You've given them everything."

Calmly, Batman responds,  "Not everything. Not yet."

Bruce Wayne/Batman, it is inferred in the trailer, is willing to take his life's calling to the end and sacrifice his life for the good of Gotham, the town his parents loved so dearly and worked so hard to build. When they died, he inherited a town that became hopeless, defeated, rife with sin and violence. He commits himself, as Batman, to fight back against the darkness and use his resources for something good.

When we last saw Batman in "The Dark Knight," he was running from the police and has accepted, in a deal with Commissioner Gordon, responsibility for the deaths of the people Harvey "Two Face" Dent killed. Gordon knew he didn't do it, but the pair knew how much Dent meant to the city. He was the white knight, while Batman was the faceless enforcer in the night.

Dent's fall from grace was devastating to everyone and would have crippled the good people of Gotham. Batman shoulders the burden and runs. Gordon accepts the lie in order to preserve peace. He puts the call in and the hunt for Batman begins.

Gordon's son looks at the commissioner and says, "He didn't do anything wrong."

The father responds, "Because he's the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So we'll hunt him. Because he can take it. Because he's not our hero. He's a silent guardian, a watchful protector. A dark knight."

Now, years later in The Dark Knight Rises we see Bruce Wayne bruised and battered. He's pushed his body to the brink. If Wayne dies, but inspires someone pure to pick up his mantle, it will have all been worth it.

In comparison, Jesus became man, inheriting his father's creation. In order to redeem earth's people, he sustained the taunts, the beatings and accepted death. In death and through his resurrection, Christ  was recognized as so much more than the simple son of a carpenter and really as God incarnate. He ignited people all over the world to follow his example of peace, love, charity and sacrifice. 

Director Christopher Nolan has said The Dark Knight rises will complete his Batman trilogy. If this particular story of Batman is to end, Bruce Wayne and Batman will need some finality. He can't fight this battle forever. Someone, after he is gone, will need to spread the message of hope through words and action.
There's even a scene in The Dark Knight trailer where people are almost waiting in vigil, wondering if Batman is dead and never coming back. They almost seem directionless without him.  
Batman isn't Jesus. But, we see him in the trailer almost emerging from his grave and rising. When he comes back, the people of Gotham will know what to do and together, they can accomplish anything.


May 05, 2012 01:38
By Matt Palmer