The Secular Media and Your Family’s Best Defense: A Review of Noise by Teresa Tomeo

If you want to read a book on today's media and the Catholic family there is absolutely no better source than Teresa Tomeo.  Teresa is the Catholic talk show host of "Catholic Connection," produced by Ave Maria Radio that can be heard on over 120 Catholic stations through EWTN Global Catholic Radio, the Internet, and Sirius Channel 160.  She has deep roots in the media milieu, having spent most of her high school years, college internships, and all of her career in the trenches, as they say.  Not only has Teresa, herself, been "in the business," but as a talk show host she has interviewed countless people who have contributed vastly to her understanding of the secular media's impact on the Catholic family.

If you are a Catholic adult you'll want Teresa's book, Noise, in your home.  You'll want it because, even if you feel there isn't anything new that could be said about the media and its influence on you and your family, I will suggest that you are wrong.  Not only is Teresa's book full of the latest in statistics that will shake you, and wake you, but I see her book as an anointed way to open dialogue between yourself and your children and to make a real difference in how you and your family view the secular media.

Noise is chock full of great stats.  We all know that there are connections between media violence and aggression in children.  We've seen the anorexic images of the likes of Nicole Ritchie and the alarmingly slim female television figures that propagandize our teenage girls.  We know that our teenage boys are inundated with Internet pornographic temptations.  But Teresa's book shares these stats within the context of real stories.  Mind numbing data that we may have learned to shrug a cold shoulder at become very real, and feel too close for comfort, when we read of the woman whose teenage son was just completing intense therapy for Internet pornography addictions or Sandra, a young mother with an out of control daughter (and I won't tell you the daughter's age).  Needless to say, we can see glimpses of ourselves in these adults as we know the struggles parents face in raising children today and, although we may raise an eyebrow, we know better than to cluck our tongues in judgment.  There but for the grace of God…   Indeed, statistics that have been swept under the rug take front and center stage in Teresa's book but with the warm, conversational tone indicative of Teresa's personal radio style.

 Noise is a great opportunity to open dialogue between yourself and your children.  Teresa and I are about the same age, so when she shared the story of slipping a box of cereal onto the conveyor belt during a grocery shopping trip with her mom just so she could get the latest copy of Bobby Sherman's record (yes, record), I laughed out loud (lol, for those savvy parents of teens).  While I won't give away the ending of the story, I will use it to support my point that Teresa's book is a great way to open dialogue between parents and children.  Why?  Why not?  What happened to the time when parents made the decisions and children obeyed, even if in protest?  Why not make your teenager read a chapter of Noise every week and then sit and discuss it with him or her?  If you can get past the rolling eyes, it might be a great way to seize control and also give your child some information to digest.  If nothing else, it cannot hurt.  And, as we are called to plant seeds, this book is sure to plant a veritable harvest.

Finally, I would suggest that Noise is a household 'must have' because Teresa has ended her chapters with a great list of "Action Items."  And if you've taken me up on the suggestion to integrate this book into your teenager's reading requirements, the action items become fully alive as both you and your child begin discussing things like the money-making motives and objectives behind advertising.  You can be "on the lookout" together.  You will be giving your family new eyes to see the world because, as Teresa points out, the answer isn't "off with its head," but to engage yourself and your family in an intelligent, wise way to encounter our everyday secular media.  And if your children are younger, you are sure to appreciate these action items as a way to prepare your children for what's ahead.

No matter what, you will embrace all that Teresa shares in Noise because, as Teresa points out, the best defense is a good offense.

(Note: I have Teresa's site, her number [if you would like to ask her to speak at your event], an Amazon link, and her publisher's link posted under book reviews at www.bezalelbooks.com.)

Cheryl Dickow

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Cheryl Dickow is a Catholic wife, mother, author and speaker. Cheryl’s newest book is Wrapped Up: God’s Ten Gifts for Womenwhich is co-authored with Teresa Tomeo and is published by Servant (a division of Franciscan Media); there is also a companion journal that accompanies the book and an audio version intended for women’s studies or for individual reflection. Cheryl’s titles also include the woman’s inspirational fiction book Elizabeth: A Holy Land Pilgrimage. Elizabeth is available in paperback or Kindle format. Her company is Bezalel Books where her goal is to publish great Catholic books for families and classrooms that entertain while uplifting the Catholic faith and is located at www.BezalelBooks.com. To invite Cheryl to speak at your event, write her at Cheryl@BezalelBooks.com.

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