Tag Archive: media

Just a few short months ago I shared a blog post concerning Bachelor Brad and Emily’s relationship. While all seemed to go well on the show and at the final rose ceremony, things started to break down after the show. This is somewhat to be expected as the show kind of creates an artificial environment where the participants are somewhat sheltered from real life. It seemed in the final show that although Brad and Emily were struggling with their reentry into real life they were working through these issues in a consistent and responsible fashion.

Something happened just recently however; tabloids first reported that Brad and Emily had finally called it quits and this was followed up by an interview with Emily during last Monday’s episode of The Bachelorette. Emily’s request was that she wanted to tell the story just once and then put it to rest.

There is no doubt that the constant media attention and hounding was detrimental to this relationship. I cannot comprehend what this would be like and so I cannot comment on this aspect of the relationship. What puzzles me however is Emily’s description of what went wrong; it doesn’t really seem like anything went wrong. Emily said that she and Brad talk and text often, she still cares deeply for him, she would defend him should people talk bad about him, and Brad will continue to play a role in her life for a long time to come. It sound like they have become quite good friends…and where I come from that is the foundation of what could potentially make a really great marriage.

The only ray of light that Emily shed on this matter was that she felt life with Brad would be too unstable for her and her daughter. Emily stated that when anticipating a temporary relocation to Texas to be closer to Brad she wanted to have an apartment and other necessities all lined up prior to her departure; it seems as though Brad did not share this same desire to have life preplanned. Emily also mentioned her reluctance to move in with Brad right away…I can only speculate how this very countercultural behavioral impacted their relationship. Finally, Emily confessed her lack of confidence in Brad’s long-term affection for her; she was not confident that Brad would still want to be with her 6 weeks or even 6 months out. Yet they remain good friends; on this point I must confess I am confused.

Once again The Bachelor/ette has provided us with some interesting reflections on the state of love and marriage within our culture. I commend Emily on remaining strong and true to her morals and to the ideal of life she has for her and her daughter. It is better to know now that she and Brad wanted very different things in life than to get in too deep (i.e. married) and then pull the plug.

I honestly get the sense from both Brad and Emily that they entered this relationship with only the best motives and truly wanted this to work. Perhaps the failure of their relationship was a result of cultural expectations mixed with tabloid harassment? I just cannot figure this one out completely and from Emily’s tone I think this will be the last we hear from her… any thoughts?

Good morning readers! I have a bunch of things on my mind today and so I thought that I would let them all out for you to see and hear about. Here we go!

1. If you were in Monkey Barrel this past week we talked about VAMPIRES! No, we are not setting the Bible aside and now preaching from popular media. What we are doing is taking popular media and demonstrating how lines up or does not line up with a Biblical worldview.

Now that you are done having a heart attack about us talking of Vampires in Monkey Barrel, let me tell you what we talked about. First, we discussed the various occult-like beliefs and behaviors associated with the whole world of vampires and its somewhat close association with Wicca. These are things that our Biblical worldview tells us are very real and certainly not good, pure and noble pursuits. Secondly, we saw that there are a variety of other practices associated with Vampires that are perhaps not spiritually-related but nevertheless contradictory to our Biblical worldview. Finally, we noted that those who engage in a lifestyle of fantasy and use that as a mask to avoid the pain of real life here and now are not doing themselves any good whatsoever. We need to pursue life with Jesus Christ, not fantasy.

A full discussion about this will be posted next week once I present this material to the Emergency Ministries group.

2. The second thing on my mind today is the Royal Wedding! Not the dress, not the hats, not the people, not the ring, not the weather, not the kiss, not anything like that…..come on now, what about the Royal Wedding do you think I would deem worthy for including in this blog post? ……..the sermon by the Bishop of London! I encourage you to review a few excerpts from the wedding sermon delivered earlier this morning at Westminster Abby as I was quite impressed with the truth about love and marriage presented to millions of viewers today. You can see some excerpts at http://www.officialroyalwedding2011.org/blog/2011/April/29/The-Bishop-of-London-s-Sermon

3. The third and final thing on my mind this morning is a new blog series that I have been thinking about and will begin to write shortly. I want to put the idea out there now to increase your expectation and whet your appetite. I plan to write a series entitled “The Top 10 Threats to a Teenager’s Faith”. In this series I will draw from my experience of 10 years working with teenagers to highlight some common pitfalls I have seen over and over again with the anticipation that perhaps it may assist some teenagers and parents from repeating the mistakes that others before them have already made.

That’s all for this morning!

p.s. I have noticed that my Katy Perry post from well over a month ago is STILL getting many hits every day and is currently my most popular post. Perhaps you’d like me to review more artists in the near future?

In response to my recent post regarding the disaster in Japan I was challenged by a personal communication from a reader, which stated that while they agree with the Scriptures and thoughts presented they couldn’t help but wonder how the principle of sowing and reaping applies to global disasters such as this and others. If we as a human race sow immorality, spiritual ignorance (or rejection), humanism, paganism…can we not then expect to reap destruction from this?

In my regular bible reading today I just completed the final chapters of Deuteronomy (I’m a little behind in my attempt to read the entire bible by May, but I’m trying). Throughout this section we read of Moses passing his mantle of leadership on to Joshua as the Israelites prepare to enter into the promised land. Part of this ‘passing of the torch’ involves a reminder of God’s law; specifically, the Israelites can expect to enjoy peace and prosperity in their promised land if they continue to adhere to the law of God. On the other hand, if they depart from the law of God and devote themselves to pagan idols and ways of life they can expect to experience curses and indeed have their promised land removed from them. This was not an empty threat; this is actually what happens when the Israelites become enslaved to Babylon for decades. Certainly this principle of sowing and reaping was active in the Old Testament.

What about the New Testament? We see the principle of sowing and reading taught by Paul in the letter to the Galatians.

Galatians 6:7-8 “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”

Here are my thoughts as this pertains to our present world. Death, decay and disaster are all a part of the human experience of life because of decisions humanity has made while living in this world. It is a fundamental matter in the Christian worldview that the present imperfection experienced is as a result of humanity’s inherent sinfulness (the explicit desire to do my own things my own way) and the fact that we are reaping what we have sown from the very beginning time when sin entered the world. This is not a condition that will persist forever; however, it is a present reality.

Therefore, within the world that we live I believe that our corporate immorality and failure to acknowledge God does merit punishment and judgment; we reap what we sow. If we can really take care of ourselves completely and provide all that is necessary for humanity to experience abundant life…perhaps God allows us to try it on our own sometimes. Our inherent smallness and inability to hold everything together on our own is evident in disasters like we saw in Japan and New Orleans and in the sociological/political/religious chaos that led humanity to destroy itself in the 9/11 attacks in the US.

What makes me uncomfortable is when we start to attribute ‘blame’ (for lack of a better word) for these disasters on specific people as opposed to recognizing that it is a symptom of humanity’s ignorance. The ‘blame’ (again, for lack of a better word) lies in humanity itself and not in the individuals who are affected by these disasters. Humanity sows seeds and reaps what we have sown; in the process of this the lives of the righteous and the unrighteous are affected.

Matthew 24:6-8: “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.”

Just about a month ago Emergency Ministries hosted a small weekend conference talking about the effect of media (i.e. music, video, magazines…) on teenage culture. Brett Ullman (www.brettullman.com) was our guest speaker for the weekend and he challenged many of us to examine the media that we allow to impact our lives. Some media has a great message about the way the world is and our role in it; other media has a distorted view and does not communicate truth about life. We were also challenged to think beyond the labels of “Christian” and “secular” when it comes to media; great messages can exist within “secular” media and some not so great messages can exist within “Christian” media.  This certainly makes decision making in our lives a little messier; however, you might be surprised with what you come up with in the end.

Last night after watching Glee, Mandy and I briefly discussed different musical artists with our houseguests. I am a music lover and sometimes I get caught up with the energy and music of a song without realizing what the song is actually saying about life. Here is a prime example of this: last night on Glee one of the competitors at regionals did the song “Raise Your Glass” by Pink. The song is full of energy and musical competence and I must say that I liked Glee’s rendition…although I have never really listened to the words.  I decided this afternoon to check it out and see if I had landed myself a “secular” song that has a message I can affirm

After doing my research…I seem to have been a little off base with this one. The whole song is a call to misfits and underdogs to rise above cultural stereotype and enjoy their distinctive and unique life (“raise your glass if you are wrong, in all the right ways, all my underdogs”). However, the alternate approach to ‘life’ portrayed in the song is about as shallow as the life that Pink is calling her “nitty gritty dirty little freaks” to come out of; it seems that she is calling them to a life of partying and indulging in senseless role reversals (in the video there is a scene where human breast milk is being fed to young cows). While the message of this song may be catchy for a while I don’t think it has the substance to make a lasting positive impact on our culture.

So…I decided to give it one more shot. I remember last night talking about the song “Firework” that was highlighted on Glee a few months back. I had forgotten which artist had recorded the song but after a simple google search I discovered that it was Katy Perry. When I read the lyrics I became convinced that I had discovered just the kind of song I was looking for: ‘secular’ in its label but with a very truthful, noble, and inspiring message. The message of the song is this: if you ever feel down and out like you’ve blown it for the last time, there is still hope for you! You are unique and cannot be replaced so don’t check out of life. You just have to find the light inside of you and let it shine…like a firework! This is the essence of the whole song; there is no obscene language and no reference to substances or sex to take away pain or hurt. This is a life giving and life inspiring song that I do feel has the substance to make a lasting positive impact on our culture. I also think it fits the Philippians 4:8 test:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (NIV)

Kudos to Katy for giving us such an inspiring message!

In saying all of this I am not suggesting that Katy Parry should become a role model of morality and taste for teenaged culture. (In fact, there is one short segment from this song’s video that I think we could do without…I’ll let you decide which one).  I am somewhat perplexed that the same girl that sang this song also sang “I Kissed a Girl (and I liked it)” just a few years ago. Nevertheless, I am reminded of something that my systematic theology professor would tell us students in seminary: all truth is God’s truth. What he meant is that wherever in life you find something that is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable…that is evidence of God’s fingerprints on humanity and we can celebrate that together. We can look around in our culture and find pieces of truth here and there and use these to say to people, “this, my friend, is the way!”

Unfortunately truth and lies can come out of the same mouth; I guess this is just another reason why our faith is in God and not in each other.  I believe however that truth shines brightly no matter where it is found. When our faith is in God truth will be evident and we can use this as a witness to God’s ever-present interaction with our world.

So, listen and be encouraged by Katy Perry’s talent and the truthful and admirable message she declares in her song “Firework”.

So I watched Glee last night…and about half way through the episode I was having a bad case of déjà vu about their portrayal of God, faith and Christianity; it just seemed like they were perpetrating all the cliché statements of pop culture concerning faith. I felt as though the whole foundation of Glee (i.e. the plight of the underdog) had more depth and more integrity than what was playing out before my eyes.

My hope was restored as the show concluded as there did seem to be an attempt to present a balanced perspective; no solid conclusions were reached but there was balance.

All of this has me thinking about the role that prime time television plays in educating our culture. If I were not a person of faith I may have finished watching Glee last night and been somewhat perplexed. Is faith really worthless? Is there really no God; Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) certainly had a convincing argument to support this fact. What about supernatural things taking place in our world today; are they really as ludicrous as a ‘grilled cheesus”?

I think that we all (myself included) need to take a step back from prime time television to realize that its purpose is not to educate but to provide lighthearted and satirical entertainment at the end of a busy day. These programs give us a moment to exit the constraints of the real world where the rules are changed and characters are free to say and to do what they wish. In a stuffy world of confusing political correctness and nauseating conversations about proper etiquette, the genre of shows like Glee help to provide relief and humor from all of this; to this end they do accomplish their task.

There is an unfortunate and undesirable side effect related to the humor and comic relief brought about by prime time television; many people actually believe everything they hear.

The writers of last night’s episode of Glee managed to fill the show full of clichés and stereotypes related to having faith and not having faith. There was the appearance of the image of Jesus in a physical object (the ‘grilled cheesus sandwich’), there was the classic ‘I asked for it and God did not answer, ergo he does not exist’ argument, there was the notion that keeping faith out of school is a good thing, there was the extremely trendy statement ‘God created me a homosexual and yet condemns me for this very fact’, and a host of other popular statements. There was enough reality and emotion in what was presented for the viewer to be almost convinced that this is the way the real world actually is.

The thing is, the writers of this episode of Glee were under no obligation to provide a balanced ‘peer reviewed’ perspective of faith and of God. Prime time television in general is under no obligation to ensure the complete accuracy of the information that they present and they are under no obligation to resolve every dilemma that they raise. Their genre is one of entertainment and not education; however this distinction is becoming muddy in our present day.

I am sure that some will commend Glee for confirming God’s non-existence last night without realizing the subtle nuances that were present and without really examining the arguments that were raised. Let me (gently) correct the record as one who works in and studies faith and God: none of the arguments and/or dilemmas presented on Glee last night were new, nothing presented on Glee last night is as simple or as clear-cut as it may have appeared, and no new conclusions or syntheses about faith and God were construed by the characters on the show. It certainly was entertaining, but that is all.

I commend the writers of Glee for achieving somewhat of a balance last night. Emma Pillsbury’s (Jayma Mays) reminder that although God works and speaks in mysterious ways, but probably not through a grilled cheese sandwich, was a tactful way to dismiss the ‘grilled cheesus’ while not dismissing faith. I also commend the writers for demonstrating the faith of students like Mercedes Jones (Amber Riley) as firm and unwavering. Finally, I think that it was in good taste (and balance) that once Kurt Hummel (Chris Colfer) seemed to accept prayer as a legitimate expression of sympathy and grief we see his comatose dad begin to respond to his son’s presence for the first time.

I am not sad that this show aired, in fact I am somewhat glad. Glee’s whole foundation is built around exposing stereotype and cliché in a comical fashion. The basis of the show is about the competition between sports and arts in a local high school and the typical students involved in each. Last night’s episode placed the topic of faith and spirituality in the minds and conversations of the general public and this is not necessarily a bad thing.

To fix our confusion of the genres of entertainment and education I think that conversation and blogging such as this is so necessary so that once we jump back into the real world we can make sense of what we saw and perhaps dreamed about just the night before.

What do you think?