“Morning Glory”
 
            “Morning Glory” is the kind of “chick flick” that is relatively safe for guys:  the males are still secondary, though not insignificant. And though not intended as any kind of parable about church---religion is never even mentioned---it feels like many of the same dynamics, anyway.
            Rachel McAdams plays Becky, a talented, driven, attractive, young television producer who’s called into the office of the “Big Boss,” fully expecting that this will be her big breakthrough—but instead, she’s fired.  They’re bringing in a (younger) hotshot with better credentials.
            Devastated, Becky hides her disappointment in a flurry of resume-sending, and finally lands an interview with a struggling network whose morning show is barely holding on, and she promises to bring up the ratings.  But the male anchor creeps her out by making an immediate unwanted advance, and so she fires him.  And the veteran female anchor (Diane Keaton) feels overwhelmed and underappreciated.  Now what?
            Becky finds out that the old curmudgeon former evening news anchor, played by Harrison Ford, though now relegated to brief (boring) appearances on the nightly show, is still under contract, despite the fact that he’s made himself odious to everyone and is constantly seething about the “dumbing down” of television in general and “news” in particular.  He obviously can’t stand it when they’re doing “fluff” pieces, and in his high-minded preservation of outmoded principle takes himself way too seriously, and everyone else too lightly.  Nevertheless, he is at least a recognizable “air” personality, and so she forces him to honor his network contract and work the morning show in the midst of the all the superficial perkiness he so disdains.
            Now Becky is squarely in the middle of trying to make two co-anchors get along who simply aren’t trying to do so.  They can’t help themselves at times, and mutter cutting remarks to each other as they are signing off, but it turns out that bumps up the ratings.  People like watching the tension, because it’s different, and it feels real to them.  Becky tries her hardest, but the new “Big Boss” tells her that she only has a short time to make ratings improve even more, or she’ll be out, like the rest of the team leaders they’ve tried.  So she “ramps it up” by asking the weatherman to go on roller coaster rides and jumping out of airplanes, and, eventually, the determined-to-be-gloomy-and-cynical Ford actually opens up and does a cooking segment himself, making frittata on air.
            In the meantime, of course, Becky finds romance, though she has to work at not being constantly distracted by the unrelenting responsibilities of her high-pressure, unending, impossible job.  We fear that she’s going to burn out soon, but at the end, since she finally got some sparks going, we want to see her continue to succeed, even if she doesn’t have much of a personal life.
            Whew.  If this could be construed as a parable about church leaders, it’s also a warning.  Under constant pressure to be more appealing to the public, churche leaders are always seeking ways to make their grand old institutions “user-friendly,” and too readily discard substance for form, thus creeping ever closer to the pressure to be mere “entertainers.”  Those who complain about this dynamic, of course, are labeled as outmoded obstructionists, staunchly-principled cynics who won’t get off their high horse long enough to realize what’s happening around them, and adapt to it.  So what’s a good leader to do?  Other than burn herself out trying to “make something happen”?
            Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.
 
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church, Greenville , Texas