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There weren’t many surprises at the Academy Awards presentation –
especially since the Wall Street Journal had polled members and
predicted most of the winners accurately.

Oh, it was glitzy as usual. It was mildly entertaining with Billy
Crystal as the host. But there was something missing at Sunday night’s
big Hollywood show.

In past years, actors, actresses, writers, directors and producers
have used the event to promote issues bigger than themselves. Hollywood
celebrities attempted to show the world that they were serious people –
involved, concerned, engaged.

Sometimes it became downright annoying. But, at least, they tried.

Only once during this year’s festivities do I recall anyone making a
political point — author-screenwriter John Irving talking about how
important it was that his film, “The Cider House Rules,” made a
pro-abortion statement. He even thanked Planned Parenthood, known in
some circles as Abortion Inc.

However, of most interest about the Oscar show was not so much what
was said as what wasn’t.

Not a single award recipient thanked God for his or her achievement.

Isn’t that remarkable?

I think it’s an indication — as if we needed another — that
Hollywood, as an industry, is further from mainstream American values
and morality than ever before.

After all, these people had no doubt given considerable thought to
what they would say in the event they were presented with an award. Many
of them even brought notes. But somehow it never occurred to them that
their Creator should be shown any thanks for their ascent to the top of
their fields — even though they were reaching a worldwide audience of
untold millions.

Not one of them thought it would be appropriate to acknowledge God.
It’s almost unbelievable. It’s almost mystifying.

I know that in past awards presentations, some brave souls in
Hollywood have thanked God — not in a profane manner, but in a sincere,
heartfelt way.

It would be worse, of course, if Hollywood stars took God’s name in
vain the way so many do in the movies they make. It’s easy to do that
when you add God as an afterthought to a laundry list of people
responsible for an achievement (the producer, the director, the
screenwriter, the cinematographer, the key grip and, oh yeah … God).
Yet, incredibly, God didn’t even come up in a profane manner in this
awards ceremony.

I’ve watched Grammy Awards shows and other similar presentations
where artist after artist gave thanks to God. But it’s no longer in
fashion, apparently, at the Oscars.

Interesting. Especially because millions of Americans still bow their
heads to give thanks and plead for grace and mercy — when they wake up
in the morning, when they eat their meals, before they go to bed at
night. Many Americans with far less in the way of material success and
worldly achievement thank God daily for what they have been given.

It’s no wonder millions of us in America find so little of what comes
out of Hollywood entertaining, uplifting, redemptive or of merit in any
other way.

Whom do I blame for this spiritual vacuum that has formed inside the
most important entertainment industry in the world? This might surprise
you.

I blame the church.

You see, until 1968, the Catholic Church and the major Protestant
denominations had profound impact on Hollywood. Every script to be made
into a motion picture by the major studios was first approved by
representatives of the Christian churches in Hollywood. The churches had
real clout and helped Hollywood throughout its Golden Age produce some
of the finest movies ever made. The industry loved it because it had
institutions looking over its shoulder — institutions that had a finger
on the pulse of a very spiritual nation.

But the churches abandoned Hollywood — just as they have abandoned
many of the world’s institutions. They removed the salt. And the result
is a rapidly rotting cultural corpse.

As glitzy as the spectacle may have been this year, the Oscar pageant
illustrates how deeply out of touch the movie business is with
mainstream American values, morality and ethics. Now you know why. God,
apparently, has nothing to do with it.

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