New Ethos' key foundational principle is to encourage the encounter of the divine in the true, the beautiful, and the good of entertainment - The "God Moments" of entertainment.
What Entertainment Professionals Do is Important:
“God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work he had done in creation.” [Gen. 2:3]. when God rested, he created entertainment. True and good entertainment is not merely senseless escapism or a throw away activity that has no substantial use to our cultural development. True and good entertainment is a divine and holy activity. Entertainment is activity, whether passive or active, that gives pleasure or relaxation to its participant. Entertainment is a form of leisure, and leisure is characterized as a “state of being.” Entertainment is significant to our cultural and personal development because it can be intrinsically motivating to the culture and persons who experience it. Entertainment “moves” people and that is important!
The entertainment industry, including its artists, promoters and distributors, possess a great dignity by virtue of their trade, as the modern day “prophets” who proclaim through their work a great hope for humanity, namely, that the Kingdom of God is at hand [Matt. 5:17]. This great dignity lies inherent in the entertainment community, and is a calling to something true, good, and beautiful, even if they are unaware of such a calling, for the art is greater than the artist. The late Pope John Paul II began his Letter to Artists (1999) with a text from Genesis, “God saw all that he made, and it was very good” [Gen. 1:31]. The pope saw clearly the vocational dignity of artists, called “craftsmen,” as being in the “image of God the Creator.” Artists give form and meaning to that which has already been brought into existence by God (ex nihilo), and who by their very nature are alert to every “epiphany” of the inner beauty of things.
The Church Has a Responsibility in Guiding the Culture:
The Church’s responsibility to humanity is rooted in its mission to foster a world of peace and justice experienced in a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. The Church is greatly challenged in proclaiming this Gospel in the modern world because global society is absorbed in (attracted to and shaped by) a toxic entertainment media culture (e.g., gratuitous violence, promiscuity, and greed in film, television, video games, music, fashion, etc.). Pope John Paul II wrote in his Apostolic Letter, The Rapid Development, “Communications media (particularly entertainment) have acquired such importance as to be the principal means of guidance and inspiration for many people (especially the youth) in their personal, familial, and social behavior" [n.3]. He also wrote, “The current phenomenon of communications impels the Church towards a sort of pastoral and cultural revision so as to deal adequately with the times in which we live.” Given that Pope John Paul II wrote about artists, that they "are alert to every epiphany of the inner beauty of things” [Letter To Artists], then the Church has a grave responsibility to serve the Entertainment Industry.
The Church Needs “Hollywood” and “Hollywood” Needs the Church:
The cultural center of society has become entertainment, especially with the youth. Most people seek truth, beauty, and goodness in their lives and seek it through entertainment. The Church needs the industry’s artists to give “meaning and form” to the gospel message in new and creative ways so that people can be fed in their search for truth, beauty, and goodness even as they experience entertainment. The Church also needs the gifts of the industry's promoters and distributors so that this message can reach and appeal to a mass market. Entertainment that exhibits a spirit of truth, beauty, and goodness will be good business for the entertainment industry. The artists of the entertainment industry need the Church to help give “soul” (truth, beauty, goodness) to its form. The industry's promoters and distributors need a significantly large and loyal market base that the Catholic Church can potentially provide.
More Collaboration Among Catholic Community in Promoting Entertainment Excellence:
The late Pope Paul VI wrote in his encyclical, Evangelii Nuntiandi, “The power of evangelization will find itself considerably diminished if those who proclaim the Gospel are divided among themselves in all sort of ways.” For the Catholic-Christian market to have a significant impact on the “New Ethos” of entertainment, it will need to be somewhat unified and responsive for the entertainment industry to recognize its influence. For this to happen, without compromising Catholic principles, collaboration within Catholic Hollywood is primary, ecumenical and inter-faith collaboration secondary though necessary and important, and collaboration with the secular Entertainment Industry essential.
Product Advocacy Rooted in Sound Catholic Principles:
New Ethos will take care to ensure that those who recommend products to bear the New Ethos logo for product promotion are comprised of “persons who are familiar with the technique of motion picture (or other applicable entertainment media such as television, video games, music, fashion) and at the same time, well grounded in principles of Catholic morality and doctrine.” [Vigilanti Cura (1936)]. Guest and expert jurors who are not Catholic, Christian, or "practicing Catholics” may be invited to sit on a specific jury to contribute their particular area of expertise. Each specific jury will be dominant, if not in totality, of Catholics who are well grounded in principles of Catholic morality and doctrine.
Recognizes the “Spiritual Conflict” within the Entertainment Environment:
St. Paul writes about the human person's constant battles over the desires of the flesh or the spirit [Romans 7: 14-25]. The fallen nature of our human condition, called concupiscence, contributes to a vicious downward spiral of toxic entertainment media supplied to our culture (i.e., gratuitous violence, sex, egoism, materialism). Entertainment can be a great source for uplifting the human spirit, if grounded in the truth, beauty, and goodness as embodied in the gospel. The current toxic downward spiral trend in entertainment is difficult to break.
The artist is naturally concerned about expressing themselves or their world view through the entertainment they produce. However, the Church has recently had a tendency to “box in” artists, placing boundaries on their creative process. This repelled many in the artist community, who consequently and ironically seek to create outside the Church. This break in relationship leaves a grave void in how artists can be informed to give shape and meaning to reality. Entertainment executives naturally are concerned about revenues, and will even market and distribute media to audiences that may not be “good” for them, as long as it makes money. Given this environment, where the entertainment industry’s creative environment lacks the gospel, and a materialistic commerce, the consumer (especially the easily influenced youth) are easily prey to the potentially toxic diet of entertainment fed to them.
Spiritual Conflict is Resolved Through a Personal Encounter with Jesus Christ:
Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body lectures and writings indicate that the resolution of each individuals spiritual conflict with his/her fallen nature happens through our encounter with the person of Christ, a “New Ethos” encounter, whose beauty transforms. This encounter holds the power to awaken hearts from the darkness they embrace and transforms their desire for that which is true, good, and beautiful.
Responsible entertainment can be a vehicle for this “New Ethos” encounter. Further, the entertainment industry provides an opportunity for reaching mass audiences, catalyzing a transformation of culture – i.e., “The Passion of the Christ” factor. Many priests can attest to people returning to Church and confession after years of being away. One individual, driven to compunction by the film, turned himself in and confessed to a murder.