Interesting comics this week about the days when technology was not quite so modern.
Category Archives: Culture
For those of us of a certain vintage, we recall the bane of chain letters. A well-meaning friend would send you a letter telling about the secret to success. Your task was to forward the letter to twenty-five other friends. If you did, you were guaranteed success. If you broke the chain, disaster would follow. Considering I always tossed them in the trash, it probably explains why I am still working to make a living. 😉
Today’s version of the chain letter is telling someone to say “Amen” or “Like” your Facebook post. “I bet we can’t get 1,000 people to repost this phrase or cute picture.” Don’t break the chain or else …
Please let me make up my own mind as to whether or not I agree with what you’ve posted and want to share it with my network. If I think it is valid and helpful, I will. If I consider it frivolous, I will ignore it. If you keep doing it, I may even unfollow you. Please let me make up my own mind.
I will now step off my soapbox.
‘Beauty and the Beast’ Features Disney’s First Gay Character – While I am not surprised by the headline and the story, I am disappointed.
“Beauty and the Beast” to feature an “exclusively gay moment” – Professor Denny Burk of Boyce College offers his take on this issue.
Even though I’m not surprised by this, I am disappointed by it. My own children were delighted by the live-action Cinderella that came out in 2015. It was really well done. For that reason, we have been looking forward with great anticipation for another well-done production. But if these reports are true, we won’t be seeing this one.
The reason is very simple. I am not going to let a movie studio communicate to my children that sexual immorality is “normal and natural.” This movie will no doubt be packaged in a narrative and a production value designed to capture their imaginations, and it will do so in a way that conceals a false and destructive message. To let them see this material would go against everything that I am trying to teach them about the good, the beautiful, and the true. If these reports are accurate, this movie would powerfully subvert that effort.
We have to be constantly vigilant about what stories capture our children’s imaginations—even stories from places like Disney. In fact, I should stipulate, especially from sources like Disney. As one friend put it to me:
We don’t allow Disney into our house, except for the older stuff. They are wicked engineers of the imagination. The corruption of the best is the worst.
My friend’s point is a simple one. Our minds and our consciences are shaped more by the stories that frame our experience than by anything else. The story-tellers, therefore, are the “engineers of the imagination.” They can influence and shape us for the good or for ill. They can either reflect or deflect our moral imagination from the true story of the world—and there is but one true story. Virtue involves not only knowing that story but understanding all of life within its frame of reference.
This decision by Disney is one more example of what Tim Jack used to say, “Why be surprised when the world acts like the world?” I’m sad, but not surprised. It certainly colors my expectations for the movie and might influence my decision whether or not to see it in the theaters.
Most commercials are loud, direct, and blatant in their message. Retailers like Target, Wal‑Mart, and Toys-R-Us shout “BUY!” Car dealerships shout the same message while high end auto manufacturers like BMW, Mercedes, and Audi tweak the message so it proclaims, “Status!” Drug companies promote health (blood pressure, diabetes, Hep-C, etc.) and pleasure (Viagra, Cialis). Trailers for movies and TV shows shout, “Watch me!”
On rare occasions comes a commercial that promotes a subtle rather than overt message. During the FOX broadcast of the NFL Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins game on Thanksgiving Day, there were two commercials that promoted a very subtle worldview. One praised mankind while the other promoted tolerance and acceptance.
Dodge Ram pickup trucks aired a commercial that was aimed at praising hard-working Americans. However, it is blatantly man-centered. The tagline of the commercial was “Praise the work!” As parents, we teach our children to say “Thank you” to someone who does something for you. As Christ followers, we say “Thank you” to God because we know that all good gifts come from his hand. The Dodge Ram commercial promoted thanking yourself because you did all the hard work required to obtain and enjoy all the blessings you have. Because men and women are strong, wise, creative, and hard-working, they don’t need to acknowledge anyone else. They can “Praise the work” rather than give thanks. A very subtle, self-centered message.
Apple aired a commercial promoting tolerance and acceptance. The commercial, called “Frankie’s Holiday,” began with a Frankenstein creature laboring in a workshop. He took a package and walked down the hill and into the town square. He took out two Christmas lights, one red and one green, and attached them to the electrodes on his neck. He then played “There’s no place like home for the holidays” on his smartphone and started to sing along. The townspeople stared at him in horror and amazement. When one of his bulbs went dark, a young girl in the crowd helped reattach it so it lit up. She then started singing with the creature. Eventually, all the townspeople joined in. The commercial’s tagline is “Open your heart to everyone.” The subtle message was that there are no monsters, only people who are different. We should accept and tolerate all people, especially those who are different. Again, a very subtle, worldview shaped message.
While most commercials air several times during an NFL broadcast, these two commercials were only aired once during the FOX broadcast. Not watching any of the other two Thanksgiving Day football games, I don’t know if they appeared on CBS or NBC. While the commercials were creative and well done, they were frightening in the subtle way they communicated and attempted to shape one’s worldview.
As followers of Jesus Christ, we have to be alert and aware of what is being taught and communicated. We have to ask the question, “How does this fit with what Scripture teaches?”
This post was originally written the day after the election in 2008. Since the pendulum has now swung in the opposite direction, I had to rewrite it slightly. Despite the swing, the truth is still applicable today.
Now that the blue red wave of Democrat Republican fever has swept the country, what does God have in store for America?
Those who thought God was a Republican Democrat are acting as if he died. They are stocking up on sackcloth and ashes because life as they knew it has ceased to exist, or so they believe.
Those who thought God was a Democrat Republican are having a Holy Ghost revival. They are popping the champagne corks because they have reached the Promised Land, or so they believe.
What people seem to forget is that God is neither Republican nor Democrat. Long ago, Joshua asked a similar question as he stood before the city of Jericho and faced the angel of the Lord. “Are you for us or for our enemies?” (Joshua 5:13). The angel replied, “Neither . . . but as the commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” (verse 14).
The question is not, “Whose side is God on?” God is God. The real issue is, “Who is on God’s side?”
After an election like yesterday, we need to be reminded that as the sovereign ruler of the universe, God can raise up kings and queens, and remove kings and queens. He can place anyone in power at just the right moment to accomplish his plan and purpose. The books of Nehemiah and Esther give testimony to that fact.
God’s plan is not dependent on who resides in the White House or the State House. God can use a godly king like David, a man after his own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). He can also use a pagan ruler like Ahasuerus (Esther 8-9) or Cyrus (Isaiah 45:1-13) to accomplish his plan and purpose. God can even speak through a donkey (Numbers 22). (No political pun intended or Narnian animal alluded to. This was a living, breathing, talking beast of burden who rebuked a prophet of God.)
If God is truly sovereign, the results of this election did not take him by surprise. He moved to put the right people in power to accomplish his plan and purpose.
Which brings us back to the original question, What does God have in store for America?
Out of curiosity, I watched the “Pilot” episode of the new CBS drama, “Pure Genius.” I was surprised how subtly evangelical faith was mocked in the program.
The premise of the show is about a Silicon Valley tech billionaire who establishes a hospital, Bunker Hill, and recruits world-class doctors to staff it. It would be akin to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates partnering with the medical community.
The pilot episode mocked evangelicals in two ways. One is that the show establishes the “majesty of man.” “If we can dream it, we can do it” is the resounding theme of the program. As the tech billionaire, James Bell, explains to Dr. Walter Wallace, a new recruit, Bunker Hill blends the best of technology with the best of medicine in order to “cut through the red tape” and “get things done.” They dream up solutions and create new technology in order to save lives. They do not accept or abide by any limitations.
The second way the program subtly ridiculed faith was by portraying a Christian as a controlling, abusive person. One of the story lines in the first episode was a pregnant woman who had a tumor growing around her heart. Doctors could not operate because her pregnancy wasn’t far enough along for the baby to survive outside the womb. The parents had chosen previously not to undergo chemotherapy because of the potential side effects on the child.
As the story moves forward, the father clearly exhibits faith and wants the doctors and his wife to trust God. He asks them all to hold hands and pray for “two more weeks” before performing a C-section to deliver the baby and also doing surgery to remove the tumor from his wife. He is portrayed as an evangelical since he prays in the name of Jesus.
Up to this point, it appears to be an even handed portrayal of faith and prayer. However, James Bell, the tech billionaire is clearly uncomfortable with faith because he stands in the hallway looking on while the parents are praying. Later, you see a group of people either meditating or practicing yoga on the grounds of the hospital which indicates eastern religions are favored. The show takes a negative turn by revealing that the husband has been abusing his wife.
The episode leaves you with a negative view of religion. On the one hand, you don’t need God because men and women are smart and creative enough to solve any problem. On the other hand, those who profess to follow God are controlling and abusive. If you must practice religion, make sure it is of an eastern variety rather than evangelical Christianity. A very subtle message woven skillfully into a drama.