Making it in America: We received an unusual artifact of religious media in the mail today — a stealth Christian campaign for the new Russell Crowe movie, Cinderella Man. The movie, as far as we know, is not a “Christian” movie; but Grace Hill Media is trying to flack it as such to those in the know, a “must-see film about inspiration, hope and faith.” And what Hollywood movie — besides Revenge of the Sith – isn’t? But Grace Hill is going for something more pointed here, with just three blurbs, from Christianity Today, something called the St. Anthony Messenger, and every Christian conservative’s favorite Jewish movie critic, Michael Medved. Nowhere in the release is religion, much less Christianity, specifically mentioned; but the PR guy encourages us to “share the good news” with readers. So here it is, folks: “Liberal” Hollywood has learned the true lesson of The Passion: Christian conservatives are a market. And that’s one hell of a racket.

Sharlet: One of the smartest voices in radio is launching a new public radio show — an experiment of sorts — on May 30, and The Revealer is delighted to be a part of its first week of programming (I’ll be a guest on June 2nd).

The voice belongs to Chris Lydon, the former host of the The Connection, and the program will be called Open Source. It’ll debut on Boston’s WGBH as well as public radio stations in Seattle and Salt Lake City, and we predict it’ll grow quickly from that base. My favorite radio producer, David Miller, will be working on the show. Listen to some of Dave’s stuff on NPR: “Politics and the Prayer Group”; “Finding Love, Late in Life” (no religion; lots of sex).

Dave has nice things to say about me, too, on Open Source‘s blog — which, as part of the experiment, will be part of the show. A lot of shows use blogs now, but Lydon will be posting his topics and his guests well in advance, so that listeners can actually help shape the show rather than just respond. “Open Source will not be a show about blogs,” explains Lydon. “It will use blogs to be a show about the world.” And Lydon goes into more depth about the Open Source idea here, naming as ancestors — as proto-bloggers — Tom Paine, I.F. Stone, and Emerson.

call from a radio producer friend about a week-long “End of the World” special his show is planning (all scenarios discussed) reminded me of an odd and entertaining little book I’ve had on my desk for some time now, Pocket Guide to the Apocalypse: The Official Field Manual of the End of the World, by Jason Boyett. Doomsayers, religion writers, and religion snickerers alike will benefit from Boyett’s “Apocalyptionary,” which is an A-Z, slightly snarky glossary of the language with which we know our cosmic comeuppance.

End Times: “Eschatology” — “the theological study of the end of human history” — may be familiar to many, but most of us could use a primer on premillenialism, postmillenialism, and preterism, not to mention dispensationalism, “a Protestant theological system developed in the mid 1800s by English theologian John Nelson Darby, later popularized by the Scofield Reference Bible.” There’s more on dispensationalism, if you care, but the “Please Use It In a Sentence” section of Boyett’s Apocalyptionary gets right to the most salient point about the term: “A majority of evangelical believers probably agree with the main tenets of dispensationalism, even though they don’t have the slightest idea what the word means.”

Boyett can say that, just like I can talk about my mama but you can’t, because he’s an evangelical himself. The book, in fact, may be an amusing bit of stealth evangelism. It’s published by Relevant, a conservative evangelical publisher that embraces pop culture. In its Pocket Guide to the Apocalypse, pop culture hugs it back, and squeezes.

–Jeff Sharlet