I’m on vacation until Monday, so this is an auto-post. But please feel free to leave your usual comments and accusations of heresy, and I’ll be back on Monday to answer, with a post following on Tuesday. Keep it real.
I’m not the sort to promise hell upon people for enjoying simple entertainment. (In fact, I’m not the sort to promise hell for anything short of not believing in Jesus, because that’s, y’know, un-Biblical.)
But something has been brewing in my mind for a while, sending a mighty WALLUMP to the top of my brain every time somebody complains about the bombardment of cheap shallowness we call American consumer culture.
Which I certainly understand.It’s true that our culture seems to have about as much depth as a piece of paper these days. Everything the networks deem noteworthy for us is carefully packaged and marinated in bias, while a great deal more goes unseen. Meanwhile, Beyonce and her bizarre religion-mocking getup are blasted at us, television and movies can’t decide whether to glorify or condemn evil, and our holy holidays are commercialized beyond recognition.
But one factor seems to be escaping us.
It’s our fault.
Don’t blame the media for drowning us with talk of Miley Cyrus. They sell her because we watch.
Don’t blame the industry for giving us “Jersey Shore”, “True Blood”, and “The Real Housewives of Lower Cleveland” (or whatever they’re doing now). They sell them because we binge.
Don’t blame the industry for giving us Transformers 19 (or whatever we’re up to) or James Franco’s latest stoner movie. They sell them because we put butts in seats.
Don’t blame the media for handing Donald Trump all the airtime last election cycle and crowding out other candidates. They sell him because we watch and buzz. (Did you notice how it wasn’t until Marco Rubio started insulting Trump that the networks gave him any airtime? And then they focused on him long enough to register the “small hands” line and cut away as soon as his stump speech arrived.)
Don’t blame the publishing industry for tripe like Fifty Shades of Grey (or Hustler). They give that to us because we read, and make horrible conclusions about the nature of romance and what women should be willing to tolerate from men.
Don’t blame stores for hawking artery-choking junk food. They sell it because we eat it.
Don’t blame the retail industry for commercializing Christmas into oblivion. They do it because we shell out. (You did too, didn’t you?)
We are the problem. Humans.
We always are.
Every person in the media has kids to feed. They do what makes them money. They also have competition – every creator, studio, network, and publishing house . This forces them to capitalize on “what’s working” rather than take risks. You can’t blame them for any of this. Risks, substance, and real information don’t sell. Just look at C-SPAN.
Here’s an idea: if you want to reduce the chintz that’s become inherent to our civilization’s media, fix civilization.
Am I suggesting a boycott of shallow or decadent shows?
Well, no, not directly. If I did, I’d become another one of those Christians (probably Southern Baptist, amirite? Well, yesurrite) and get dismissed accordingly with a hearty eyeroll. It would be another example of Christians being louder about what they’re against, rather than what they’re for. Besides, it would be ignoring the real problem.
We must fix civilization with the Gospel.
That is, in fact, the only fix.
There are so many problems that stem from the human heart, going far beyond cheap entertainment. Poverty. Abortion. Homosexuality. Racial strife. And too many people are trying to spot-fix these vortexes of sin one at a time without any help from the Gospel. I wholeheartedly agree with charity, idealism, and every earthly solution we can find. But without the Gospel penetrating and changing hearts, it will not help.
But bring to people the message of sin and repentance, of heaven and hope, and these issues will be fixed at their source. Real truth and wisdom will be sought; the hate and selfishness spawning all these social ills will be cured.
Far from what many skeptics would say, it is not Christianity itself that has brought us these things.
“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.” – G.K. Chesterton
It is not too much Jesus that’s the problem; it’s not enough.