All posts by quintrandle

“Married at First Sight” — The end of Western civilization?

By Quint Randle
It’s back. The third season of A&E networks’ “Married At First Sight.” If you’re unaware of the premise, the reality show is where four relationship/life experts review and match six applicants — 2,500 this season — to be married sight unseen. With cameras rolling, viewers watch the three couples go through the wedding, the honeymoon, moving in together, etc., — a six week “experiment.” (BTW: The vast majority of couples wait a while before consummating their marriage.)

At the end of the show, the couples decide whether to stay married or divorce. From what I can tell, while some couples from season one remain married all of the couples from last season are now divorced.

With the institution of marriage in such rough shape lately, I don’t know whether to strangle the participants and producers because they are treating a sacred institution so casually, or whether to cheer them on a bit for helping these poor singles who are so clueless they can’t figure out how to find a decent mate – because the dating scene is so bad.

In a New York Post article, Season 3 participant Vanessa Nelson said, “It’s difficult to find a guy who’s somewhere in your age range who’s really ready for a serious relationship.”

Is that an excuse for a show like this? Do we enjoy watching a train wreck that much?

And yes, it is outrageous, but even today, arranged marriage – where the bride and groom are matched by a third party — are common in countries such as Pakistan, Japan, and Israel. Some have even mentioned this as a reason for not being put off by the concept of the show in the first place. One of the participants comes from Indian grandparents who were in an arranged marriage – 53 years. So for him, he was kind of “So what’s the big deal?”

mormons into media _experts-married-first-sight
The four experts who make the matches, including Harvard University Humanist Chaplain Greg Epstein, lower left.

And maybe there’s some truth to that. Maybe it’s all about the commitment and not about the magic and romance of it all. And these couples are saying all the dating and romance is an illusion. Maybe they are accepting the fact that it’s about the work?

In an Ensign article, LDS Church President Spencer W. Kimball said, “’Soul mates’” are fiction and an illusion; and while every young man and young woman will seek with all diligence and prayerfulness to find a mate with whom life can be most compatible and beautiful, yet it is certain that almost any good man and any good woman can have happiness and a successful marriage if both are willing to pay the price.”

Any good man. Any good woman. And I guess in the end that’s the question. Where religiosity is sort of an afterthought, (the show’s religious counselor is a Humanist Chaplain/Rabbi, whatever the heck that is) do these couples have the “goodness,” maturity and attention span to “pay the price.” I think not. Or at least it can’t be done in six weeks.

What do you think? Is a show like this the end of Western civilization, as we know it, or should it be applauded a bit for taking a different approach when dating and romance in the secular world are in such a shambles in the first place?


Link: Star Wars Needs a Crisis of Faith

In a post at, LDS writer and pop culture critic Cody Ray Shafer argues and explains how the original Star Wars trilogy included a lot of literal and metaphorical lessons about faith — which were mostly lost in the almost pathetic, shoot-em-up sequels. He hopes J.J. Abrams and the new movies will pick up where the original trilogy left off.

The Force is always rewarded; with telekinesis, visions, laser swords, and sometimes actual lightning. Real life spiritual battles are far less spectacular, but that’s why it works as a metaphor. We often claim that faith can move mountains, and in Star Wars it actually does.

A fun read.

Founded in 2008, is an online destination to engage in the global dialogue about religion and spirituality and to explore and experience the world’s beliefs.


“Just Let Go” Movie Review Roundup

By Quint Randle

For FHE tonight we went and saw the movie “Just Let Go.” Because it starred Henry Ian Cusick (Lost, Scandal), I had wanted to see it in a first-run theater. But having been dissapointed on occasions by plenty of other faith-based films produced locally, I put off seeing the movie until it hit the second-run movie houses. Now having seen it, I would say maybe it isn’t quite worth $9 but it’s definitely better than the $4 second-run ticket price. Here is the official trailer along with a collection of reviews.

Sean Means of the Salt Lake Tribune says it makes a “better sermon than it does an engaging drama.” While I agree to some extent, I believe the film is also powerful in its plainness. Any faith-based story is going to be a balance between “message” and “movie,” so I tend to be a bit forgiving here. And this is where Cusick’s acting helps carry the film.

We unknowingly — until we got there — attended a screening that featured a Q&A after the film with the real life subject of the film Chris Williams, whose family was destroyed in 2007 by a 17-year-old drunk driver. This interview by Jana Reiss (scroll down after clicking through) reveals some of the same things we learned in our Q&A session. And maybe that’s why I’m bit more impressed by the film because I got to hear some of the real details from Williams.

Meanwhile, this positive review by Josh Terry of says the film”offers a powerful lesson on the nature of forgiveness.”

Like some other recent “LDS Films” that aren’t necessarily LDS films — they are “faith based” films that happened to be produced by Utahns — “Just Let Go” waters down the “LDS-ness” of the story/character in order to make it play universally to audiences everywhere. So it’s not such a niche film. And this is a key question for me. The generic Christianization of the story is a double-edge sword: On one hand it makes it more universal, but on the other hand, I feel it in some ways dulls the spiritual senses of the main character. He’s a Bishop — but as a generic preacher in the movie — he’s not quite as attune spiritually than I believe he might have been in real life.

That being said, my recommendation is to see the film or watch it when it comes out on DVD or via stream. It makes for a great family discussion about forgiveness. What did you think about the film? Leave your comment below.

The Plan of Salvation in a Pop Song?

By Quint Randle

Every once in a while religion and pop music collide in interesting and overt ways. For example, The Byrd’s “Turn, Turn, Turn” adaptation of Ecclesiastes Chapter 3 hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts in 1966, making it the No. 1 hit with the oldest lyrics — King Solomon being born around 1011 B.C.

There have been other instances before and since then.

More than a decade ago I was pulling my car into the driveway, when as I often do, I parked in the garage and then ended up sitting solo in the car listening to the radio, finishing a song that wasn’t quite over yet.

This was a new song I hadn’t heard before and I liked it. Big, majestic guitars, big drums and more. “Who is this band and what song is this?” I thought to myself. Since this was a pop/rock station and not Christian radio, I was almost shocked when the lyrics of the bridge hit me. “Did that really say what I thought it said?”

Maybe redemption has stories to tell
Maybe forgiveness is right where you fell
Where do you run to escape from yourself
Where you gonna go?
Salvation is here

After the song ended I ran into the house and did a quick Google search with a few of the lyrics. The tune turned out to be “Dare You To Move” by a band named Switchfoot, a San Diego-based, Christian alt rock band in the midst of “crossing-over” and experiencing huge mainstream success with their album The Beautiful Letdown. (Which according to Wikipedia has gone on to sell about 3 million copies.)

In essence, the song is a commentary on The Plan of Salvation, where mankind comes to earth, then struggles and learns in a fallen state. Verse 1 and 2 lyrics compressed here:

Welcome to the planet
Welcome to existence …
Welcome to resistance
The tension is here
Between who you are and who you could be
Between how it is and how it should be

The chorus then challenges the listener:

I dare you to move…
I dare you to pick yourself up off the floor …
Like today never happened …

And as shown earlier, the song’s bridge then completes the overall message of the song.

Many times since that first listen, “Dare You To Move” has given me unexpected moments of greater appreciation for the renewal we are given each and every Sunday. Salvation really is right there — wherever we’ve fallen. We don’t have to look far at all. So go ahead, “I dare you to move,” I dare you to grow — cause that’s exactly why we are here. And Jesus Christ provides the safety net. That’s the message this “pop sermon” has given to me.

The song has also made me wonder how lyrics with such an overtly positive Christian message attracted the attention and support of the radio programmers who are so good at feeding us all the banal and sexual trash so much of pop music is made of.

But that’s another topic for another post.

What unexpected pop sermons have you encountered listening to the radio?