Although television has been a major factor in American life for nearly a generation, it has yet to find a creative niche. Except in times of crisis, its great potential for immediacy goes largely untapped. Television as a positive force is still so insignificant that the sudden demise of the medium might be more of a joy than a calamity.

From the religious perspective, the most lamentable thing is that the churches have hardly even begun to use television. What was first seen as a new means for fulfilling the Great Commission is still looked upon wistfully by evangelistically minded Christians. But they are attempting only a smattering of productions—some of them remarkably good—and virtually all of these appear early Sunday, when the unchurched are asleep. An exception are semi-annual Billy Graham crusades in “prime time.”

The predicament was aptly underscored a few days ago by a Hollywood scriptwriter at a conference in Montreal. John Bloch, who helps create such shows as “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” and “Run for Your Life,” told the conferees that “all the money and energy being channeled into half-hour programming on Sunday morning is a waste.” He urged church communicators to try to penetrate prime evening time.

Columnist Jack Gould of the New York Times agreed in principle but questioned the practicality of Bloch’s appeal. “As he knows better than any viewer,” Gould said, “the output of Hollywood is rigorously formalized and dependent on materialistic considerations above all else.” Gould didn’t have any answers, either, and was able only to look askance at “the deluge of evangelists who spend huge sums on radio every weekend to hear the sound of their own voices and come up with soothing maxims that faith in God is the ...

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