Monday, June 16, 2008

Wars of Words and Ideas

Along the road of life one gets a taste for the things that are of interest to oneself. My senses pick up when I see a good anthropology or archeological article in the New York Times.

Dissecting history is an interesting endeavor. These days with speed of light technology, things change too quickly sometimes. Early American history is of great interest to me because I grew up in Philadelphia and I frequently as a youth had the opportunity to visit and revisit sites that most of the rest of you only read about in a history book or see in a video drama.

Historical perspectives of men such as Washington, Franklin or Adams and the whole revolutionary birth period have been revised several times in the last several years. If you think you studied history in high school or college, look up events and people on the Internet and read something quite different than what you thought you remembered.

One thing I have noticed on some cable programming is that history is now entertainment. Even if the program has the word history in the title of the program, you are likely to spot many errors in the so called facts presented.

So too I believe that there is a subtle attack on Christian beliefs going on in terms of the entertainment industry and its presentations. Semantics and or revisionist history seems to have replaced truth and logic in the scheme of things. To be fair, I must also say that not all programs are untrue to Christian history.

Over a dozen years ago I was sitting in my chair on a Sunday morning and I was reading my newspaper. It was Easter Sunday and I had not yet joined the congregation I have mentioned in another article. My son was quite small and not yet in the first grade. The TV was on to a cable program, a kid’s program whose name you would recognize. I am half listening to the Easter story on the kiddie show and half reading my paper. Then I hear something like “oh they started seeing what they thought was Jesus’ ghost and that is why they thought he had risen from the dead”. What? Holy Canoli!

I never let my child watch that program again. You think that politics or religion or strange versions of each would not be pushed onto your child. In this case it was. You start to look at who has what opinions and who owns stock in which communications companies and your start to figure out that certain entertainment companies are owned by certain families who have outward atheistic points of view and agendas and then you start to sound paranoid if you express your theories to whoever may be willing to listen. Etc.

There are extreme points of view in this country where politics and religions and profits mix and quite frankly it is better to read a book than be submitted to unfriendly, unfamiliar propaganda.

I did not grow up with the traditions of Christianity in tents or revivals. There is a whole body of Christianity out there that I as a city boy raised in the R.C. church find strange if not downright exotic. When I hear evangelicals talk about the evil eastern liberal media, I get turned off by it all. I don’t think I was brainwashed by that so called eastern media establishment. Yet there are many grains of truth these days in the things they say.

There is a war out there to control the hearts and minds of people politically, morally and economically. It is too big to describe and dissect and frankly I don’t have the energy at this stage of my life to deal with it. I have to beware, go where I find comfort and stick to the things I learned when younger. Perhaps there is no fool like an old fool. If I turn the TV off then a lot of trash and demons don’t get into my home. Perception is reality in many, many cases. Is the perception correct? Is the reality perceived correct?

As a cultural Christian I try to stay out of the town square when disagreements and fist fights break out. We may be a diverse country but we are much divided over opinions about everything these days.

Sitting there in front of the telly creates a comfort zone and a bubble. It’s like driving a car to work, turning up the air conditioning and playing the radio loud. If we have to take public transportation for a few days, many of us do not know how to deal with other people. Public civility has disappeared from the American Town Square.

Respect for your neighbors no longer exists in many ways that existed in the past. In many ways the new global culture is sterile, antiseptic and not people orientated. The new global culture is profit orientated.

Perhaps like those brave explorers of 1492, a lot of grit and blood and foul intentions have to be worked out before our children or grandchildren get a chance to build a viable, people oriented, user friendly global town square in the future.

To try and understand your neighbor, have empathy and walk a mile in their shoes, to love your neighbor as yourself. The basic teachings of Jesus are as hard today as they were 2000 years ago. The challenge any practicing Christian, cultural or otherwise, is to be aware and be available to the needs of all. The rest is in the hands of God.