Catholic Evangelism Media Index
By Richard Bruce BA, MA, and PhC in Economics
Former Instructor St. John's University, New York City
Christain, Paticularly Catholic, Video
Free with Amazon Prime
In addition to the free shipping, a vast collection of free music, including religious music, and many other benefits, an Amazon Prime subscription provides a vast collection of video, both movies and TV for free. This includes a large collection of Christian and more narrowly Catholic video. I have hardly begun to explore this free collection, but here are a few videos that I can suggest.
Great for Lent
If you want to remember how much Jesus suffered for our sins, well how do you beat Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ,"
perhaps the greatest Christian movie ever made, also perhaps the most unpleasent.
For children there is "The Miracle Maker,"
which is widely considered the best Biblical video for children ever made. This is definitely a whole family video, so I suggest parents watch it too, and even people without children should give it a try. After all for Amazon Prime members it is free, and therefore free to try. If the first few minutes don't thrill you, try something else.
At least some of the creative people who were involved in "The Miracle Maker" were also involved in Testament the Animated Bible." This is a series of nine animated half hour shows from the Old Testament. Each is done in a different style. Once again it is quite sophisticated. I recommend it for adults, but perhaps not for younger children.
Amazon prime also has many episodes of the classic children's religious program, "Gumby." "Gumby" was originally put out by the Lutherns and teaches various good values that many religious traditions and people without a religion hold in common.
There are many other children's religious series, including a number of programs on the saints. I do not have children so I have not checked them out too carefully. Nevertheless, there are a lot of possibilities. I would be interested in learning other people's reactions.
"Jesus of Nazareth"
was a famous television mini-series done by Franco Zeffirelli. This was one of Zeffirelli's most famous works. Others were Romeo and Juliet, for which he received an Best Director Oscar nomination, and his classic movie on St. Francis, "Brother Sun, Sister Moon," which sadly is not offered free on Amazon. It is available for rent $3 for standard definition, $4 for high definition.
This is the stanard price for many Catholic classics, but many cost $4 even for standard definition.
"Moses the Lawgiver" staring Burt Landcaster is another major Biblical mini-series free on Amazon Prime.
Old Hollywood was much more friendly to religious faith, Christianity, and the Catholic Church than Hollywood has been recently. In the fifties and early sixties it was normal for religious movies to be at least nominated for the Oscars. Most of these are not included in Amazon Prime but some are.
Sidney Poiter won the best actor Oscar for "The Lilies of the Field", which tells the story of a man who builds a chapel for a group of nuns. This is a classic.
"Becket" is also included. It was nominated for the Best Picture and Actor Oscars. Becket was a bishop who was matyred by an English King.
"The Agony and the Ecstasy," which is about Michelangelo and the painting of the Sistine Chapel is also included. It was nominated for many Oscars.
These are only three of the many major religious films from that era, so this is perhaps a little disappointing.
Saints and Catholic Heroes
"The Scarlet and the Black"
is about a heroic Monsiengor saving Jews from the Holocaust in war time Rome. It stars Gregory Peck.
Prime has "Molokai," the story of Father Damien's work with the leapers in Hawaii.
They also have "Entertaining Angels: the Dorthy Day Story." This one stars Martin Sheen, a major actor.
Still another Catholic hero is the martyr Archbishop Romero of El Salvador.
Martin Scorsese did a drama about the persecution of Christians in Japan, called Silence.
Televison Series, Religion & Traditional Values
Amazon Prime now has the classic religious series, "Touched by an Angel.
All nine seasons are included, but many of the episodes from each season are skipped. Only 68 of the 212 episodes are included. For many people that maybe plenty, perhaps more than enough.
If the Amazon Prime episodes are not enough for you there are more episodes available on "CBS All Access" But many episodes are also missing from "CBS All Access." You can sign up for "CBS All Access" through Amazon Prime. This means that you can sign up for one or more months and watch the extra episodes that Amazon Prime does not offer. You will not need to give anyone your credit card number because you will pay through Amazon, and they already have your credit card number.
To get all the episodes you will have to order the DVDs. Amazon offers the whole series for 63 dollars. This is for slightly more than 200 episodes. You will pay about 30 cents per episode. This also has the advantage that you can watch and rewatch them when you want to and perhaps lend them to friends and family.
Amazon Prime offers a couple of other famous televison series with religion and traditional values. In the religion category there is "Seventh Heaven," and "Highway to Heaven".
For traditional values Amazon Prime has "The Waltons," "Father Knows Best," "Leave it to Beaver" and many other early TV shows from the 50s and the early 60s, an era when TV dads were not always wrong.
Beyond the Free Amazon Prime Videos
Once again there are many other Catholic and religious films available for free on Amazon Prime. I have listed here some of the most prominent and the best.
Many great religious movies that are not free can be rented in standard
definition for three dollars. As many of these films will touch you and your
family deeply, inspire you to be better Christians they are likely to be
well worth it.
An alternative to renting the films from Amazon is to check your local public library to find those. They are likely to have a better collection of religioius movies than Amazon Prime free collection. Library dvds are, however, frequently beat up. If Amazon Prime has the film for free it would generally be better to use the Prime copy. That being said do not shy away from the library collection, as the religious movies are likely to be in far better shape than the popular blockbusters and children's videos. Furtheermore, if the religious movies are checked out a lot that will encourage librarians to include more in the collection. Librarians are always looking for ways to increase their circulation.
If your library does not have important religious movies you might want to suggest they buy them or even buy them yourself and give them to the library. Before you buy them, however, check to see if they want to add the title to the collection. The normal thing to do with a donation is to sell it at a library book sale. So check with the librarians before you buy. Building the public libraries religious collection can be a very cost effective way to evangelize. I have several web pages on evangelization through public libraries.
As a huge portion of the population, perhaps more than half, gets Amazon Prime for the shipping and many other services, it strikes me as important that we explore what Prime has to offer Catholics and other people of faith. This can be another form of evanglization.
The Only Constant is Change
What Amazon offers is constantly changing. In the last few months Amazon has dropped the "Touched by an Angel" spinoff "The Promised Land" and added "Lilies of the Field," "The Passion of the Christ," and many episodes of "Touched by an Angel." So many of the movies and TV shows you are interested in may show up over time, but if you delay on seeing what they offer now it may disappear.
Other Subscription Services
Two major competitors to Amazon are Netflix and Hulu. I got Hulu for a couple of months and can say it provided very little. I have only found one religious movie, "A Prince of Egypt" and the only religious TV series I have found so far were "Seventh Heaven," and "Gumby" both of which are on Amazon.
Netflix is currently adding new episodes of Veggie Tales, I am not sure about the old episodes. Netflix also has "A Prince of Egypt." I am planning to try out Netflix fairly soon. I will be able to say more when I see that.
However, I am not too hopeful. There is at least one website that tells you where you can stream movies and TV, Just Watch dot com. This service is provided by Yahoo. Using this site I have found that most of the key movies are not offered on any of the subscription services. They can usually be rented for three or sometimes four dollars. The service will not include Amazon as a source for many of these movies but I just checked and found that they are available on Amazon. It maybe that Amazon has recently done this deal and the site is just a little behind. At any rate if you prefer not to give out your credit card number to many sites, check Amazon to see if they rent the title there before you go to the other sites.
Evangelization and You
At my parish there have been messages encouraging us to evangelize. This is one of many initiatives that I am engaged in to evanglize. I encourage you to help me on this. To that end if you wish to pass on your suggestions for possible inclusion in this list, ask questions, or share your thoughts here is my contact information
Media Evangelization Index
Last Updated June 10, 2010