Thinking Out Loud

September 25, 2017

Defiance

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:03 am

There was something in the air on Sunday.

After viewing, I went on Twitter to what people were saying about the airing of Star Trek Discovery on CBS-TV. The mood was somewhat defiant. Well over half — in some stretches closer to 80% — of people commenting did not like the pilot and were adamant that they would not pay a subscription fee to CBS All Access to watch successive episodes. I think some were predisposed to not like the show because they knew it was moving to pay-per-view.

In a microcosm of that defiance, the second in command on the star-ship defies the Captain and several commented that defiance is usually not seen among the ranks of Star Fleet. There were also indications that the science officer was not going to necessarily be always obedient.

The show itself was delayed when an NFL game went into overtime, pushing back 60 Minutes (with new correspondent Oprah Winfrey); a game which was one of many on Sunday where players defied the President of the U.S. by either kneeling or locking arms or not showing up at all during the playing of the National Anthem. The “Take a Knee” action is also spreading on Twitter.

The Miriam-Webster Dictionary online reminds us that defiance can be an action or an attitude:

Definition of defiance

1 :the act or an instance of defying :challenge

  • jailed for defiance of a court order

2 :disposition to resist :willingness to contend or fight

  • dealing with a child’s defiance

Googling “What the Bible Says About Defiance” points often to defiance in children and there are also references to rebellion. The scripture context when referring to adults is usually in reference to rebellion against God. (See 1 Thess. 4:8)

I don’t want to go especially deep into this today except to note my personal conviction that defiance and rebellion can be contagious. While I applaud those who make peaceful protests surrounding key issues that really matter, I am hesitant to see the spread of protest culture. In some cases these demonstrations can be a great agent for social change, but in others they simply cultivate anger and can be breeding grounds for violence.

But defiance is definitely in the air these days.

 

 

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August 17, 2017

Skye Jethani on News Media; Then, and Later, and Now

Skye Jethani ran this as a series of 20 Twitter posts on Thursday morning. I thought he’d post it to his blog, but in the absence of that wanted to make sure more people got to see it.

by Skye Jethani

Here’s what’s on my mind: Cultural division, the media, and the Civil War. Does 19th century media explain what’s happening today?

Newspapers before and during the Civil War were hopelessly biased in both the North and South. Many twisted facts into “fake news.”  There’s no doubt a steady diet of biased news fueled the divide between North and South and contributed to the profits of a media industry fueled by the new technology of the telegraph allowing for much faster reporting then ever before. Part of the problem was that neither side engaged reporting from the other. Media was highly regional with the opposing point of view rarely presented fairly. It was a fragmented and siloed media landscape that made generative dialogue difficult if not impossible.

The media landscape changed dramatically in the 20th century again due to tech. Radio and then TV created for the first time a national media that could speak to the whole country instantly. It was also an age of external threats where the country rallied together to fight WWI and WWII. The focus on external enemies continued with the Cold War. For much of 20th century regional media differences were overshadowed by a united national media. A handful of outlets spoke to all of us. Remember when Cronkite was the most trusted man in America?

A new wave of tech, this time digital, has erased the unifying media landscape of the 20th century and my childhood. Instead, we’re returning to the pre-Civil War fragmentation where we only hear the voices that agree with us, and where opposition voices are silenced or mis-characterized. The divide is not geographic this time but socio-graphic as social media curates our ‘friends’ and ‘networks’ into like-minded bundled for marketing purposes.

Many look at what’s happening today and the divisions splintering the country as an abnormal, new development. I worry the relative media unity of the 20th century may have been the abnormality, and America is simply returning to the fractured existence that has plagued us since 1776. Without a serious external threat (King George III, Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, USSR), and without a common national and trusted media, we may be returning to the unsustainable conditions of the 19th century that ultimately led to civil war.

When we’ve faced such existential threats in the past it was the virtue of great leaders that has kept us united. Washington galvanized thirteen colonies into a single nation. Lincoln preserved the Union with deft leadership and uncommon wisdom. We need that kind of executive vision, virtue, and resolve no less in these times. God help us, we have none.

God help us.


Skye Jethani is an author, speaker, consultant and ordained pastor. He also serves as the co-host of the popular Phil Vischer Podcast and writes the With God daily devotional, emailed to subscribers worldwide. Skye is a former editor for Christianity Today and Leadership Journal magazines. skyejethani.com  @SkyeJethani

February 12, 2016

Unsportsmanlike Media

Filed under: Christianity, current events, ethics — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:44 am

Color barsThere was less than five minutes on the clock when I finally tuned in Sunday’s big game. I’m not a sports guy. Even if I were, I’m told it wasn’t the greatest football telecast in history. And it’s a lot of football to watch just to see a few innovative commercials.

So this means I saw far more of the post-game coverage than anything else.

There are winners and losers in any sport, and one team walks away in celebration while the other goes home in defeat. For the losing quarterback it was too much to bear.

The cameras got a tight shot of the man sobbing. The broadcast director — the one choosing the camera shots that go to air — called the shot of the dejected player and then just held there for about five seconds which seemed like five hours. I’ve directed community television before and worked in broadcast as well, and the director in me was saying, ‘Enough already! Cut to another shot.’ (If it bleeds it leads, if it cries it…)

The next day the sports bloggers and talk radio hosts had a field day criticizing the quarterback. He was sulking. He was being unsportsmanlike. It was unprofessional.

Okay, I have a question: How is that the fans are allowed to abandon all emotional restraint cheering on their team, but the players themselves are not expected have any emotional investment in the game?

Carolina was the favorite going in. The championship game can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You’ve waited for this. You go in hoping for the win. If the win doesn’t happen it’s a loss, it’s a big loss.

My issue is the way the director held the shot for so long.

In the song Dirty Laundry, Don Henley sings, “People love it when you lose.” And “It’s interesting when people die.” (If you don’t know the song, at least play the first two verses, this is a lyric version.) In today’s world, what is considered good journalism is often close-ups of pain and suffering. Media ethics? Probably a somewhat sketchy field.

I did not hear of any of the sports bloggers or talk radio hosts criticizing the broadcast director. But to me, holding the shot as long as they did seemed equally unsportsmanlike. Yes, the same quarterback later walked out of the press conference, but maybe by doing that he was actually averting more emotional display.

For the crew at CBS: A flag on the play.

 

April 10, 2015

Staring at the Screen

Filed under: writing — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:40 am

Albert remembers that afternoon in 1975 as if it were yesterday. He was 15.

It was July, hot and humid as you would expect. The sofa had been positioned to face the television set and he was jammed into it with his brother Barry, 13, sister Cathie, 10 and youngest brother Douglas, 8. They were all wearing shorts and tried not to let their legs touch because of the sweat the hot farmhouse was causing.

Short StoriesTheir father Ernie had resisted getting TV saying it was “the devil’s instrument;” and that “nothing good would come from having it;” but he couldn’t resist when a neighbor farmer offered him his old console set for $20 so he could make the move to one with better color.

The siblings spent their summers doing chores, but this day was so hot they had stripped down to shorts and t-shirts for lunch, and because the intensity of the noon-day sun, Ernie allowed them to take a rare full hour break, so they headed to the family room and settled in front of the television.

The set however, was not on.

After capitulating to pressure of the culture of the day, Ernie had second guessed himself after installing the set in its place. The set connected to the wall plug by way of a utility cord that was actually detachable — something they did back then — and he had yet to turn the set on for more than a few second to determine it had survived the move on the back of the pickup  and was capable of receiving a few off-air stations. Then he removed the cord and placed it somewhere out of sight.

So Albert and his brothers sat staring at the blank screen. Cathie found the TV listings in the Sunday paper that was still sitting by the fireplace, a routine placement for kindling for fires that weren’t needed in July. “Let’s see, it’s 12:30 PM on Friday, so what would we watch?” The kids talked about shows their friends often mentioned as the screen simply stared back silently, showing their reflection in the glass. They had television, so to speak, or at least they were making some progress.

Forty years later Albert remembered the absurdity of that summer lunch hour. A few days later his father caved in and the kids sat glued to it at every opportunity. It was harder for Ernie to get the kids to do their chores, but it also brought a wealth of information into their home which they had lacked for so many years.

Why remember this now?

The day came back to mind as Albert stared at the blank, blue screen on his computer, wondering who he should call to get it working again.

September 3, 2014

Wednesday Link List

The cartoon is from ASBO Jesus, which sadly isn’t being updated. The lower one appeared here about five years ago, and was from Pundit Kitchen.

They call it Labor Day because on Tuesday we all had to work twice as hard to catch up. Take a few minutes to pause and do some clicking:

Link sleuth Paul Wilkinson is also available for private investigations if there’s a link in your life that’s gone missing.  Or, for free, you can read his blog, Thinking Out Loud.

church and state from pundit kitchen

March 21, 2012

Wednesday Link List

Click the image above for sourcing; meanwhile, here are the rest of this week’s suggested readings:

  • The Economist catches up to the wind of Evangelical and Charismatic Christianity blowing through the church in the UK.  Yeah, really, The Economist. 
  • I was recently scanning the four youth books that deal with cutting, addiction, abuse and food disorders by Nancy Alcorn, and noticed the books are somewhat of a commercial for something called Mercy Ministries. Then I read this report.
  • Last week while we were linklisting here, Pete Wilson posted an article about all the damage being done by Facebook. Except that Facebook isn’t really the culprit
  • At Internet Monk, Denise Spencer, wife of the late Michael Spencer who founded iMonk, shares some insights she discovered after being lost in a forest.
  • Why do so many Christian blogs have Christian book reviews, and so few have Christian music reviews? Amy Sondova at Backseat Writer is the exception with this in-depth CD review of The Same Love by Paul Baloche.
  • Here’s an intriguing idea: What if we read the directives in Paul’s epistles in the first person? This example from Galatians 3 models what could be an instant small group exercise. B. J. Stockman guest posts at Zach’s. (Chapters one and two are also blogged there.)
  • Here’s an opportunity to wear your Spandex to the Red Sea: Stryper frontman Michael Sweet is leading a Holy Land tour.
  • Why Writers Need Editors: A guy we associate with alternative Christian media doesn’t have much use for mainstream Christian media. Maybe too much so.  He apologizes, sort of.
  • Here’s a short story that will rock your world when it comes to how we tend to view who pays for what when it comes to missions. Not everyone gets a 4-star hotel with M&Ms (red ones removed) either.
  • Texas pastor and blogger Trey Morgan was involved in a house giveaway last week that didn’t involve either Habitat for Humanity or Extreme Makeover Home Edition. It’s the second house they’ve given away. (Here’s more about the first one.)
  • If some are chosen, elect or predestined, why evangelize? Here’s a Calvinist with seven Biblical reasons.
  • Wanna go deep? Here’s an article about the concept that worship is a physical act; there isn’t a higher or purer worship to be experienced; not in this life.
  • Author Linda Mintle talks to CBN News about the “Am I Pretty?” YouTube video disturbing teen trend.
  • And here’s another parenting must-read: Brad Whitt’s 20 Ways To Tell Your Child You Love Them
  • Know someone responsible for worship and/or creative arts ministry in your local church? Tell them about Sunday online magazine.
  • Dave Carrol has a great quotation from Randy Bohlender’s new book, Jesus Killed My Church.
  • Speaking of books, Rick Apperson reviews the new Mike Howerton book Glorious Mess which he found literally too funny.
  • Here’s a blog link just for the sisters; but the guys can read it, too. Sometimes parents exasperate their kids because we think that they have to learn to do a task the way we do it.
  • Hometown (sort of) rapper Chris Greenwood aka Manafest, has a new album, Fighter releasing in April. One of the producers worked with Justin Bieber while another produced for The Newsboys.
  • Don’t forget to have your link suggestions in by Monday night.
  • For our closing picture below, we ask the musical question: Why throw out your old car parts when they can be part of the church stage design on Sunday morning? Click the image for the story link.

February 4, 2012

Culture and Society: Shifting or Imploding?

This is from the blog Pastor Jeff Ramblings. It appeared there as The Cultural Shift

I will turn 52 later on this year. For some of you reading this that makes me very old and for some of you I am still quite young. But my 50+ years have allowed me to see some pretty major changes in the way in which we live. My children still find it hilarious that we only got three TV stations when I was growing up (which went off the air at 11:00pm) along with the palpable sense of excitement we had when we got a fourth station. Those of you my age know exactly what I am talking about. My first computer was an IBM XT8088 with a 10mg hard drive and a 5 1/4 floppy drive which I bought used when I was 28 years old. A friend of mine put a 286 motherboard in it along with a 40mg hard drive and that was all the computer that I was ever going to need.

We can laugh about some of these changes. There are other changes that feel almost cataclysmic in nature and ones that many of us do not see as changes for the better. Ravi Zacharias speaks to some of these in the opening pages of his new book Why Jesus?: Rediscovering His Truth in an Age of Mass Marketed Spirituality.

“Spirituality is writ large in the West as gurus come and go. Perhaps a primary reason for this spread of alternative spirituality and a key to unlocking much of this puzzle for us is our means of communication today. Cultural shifts do not happen in one giant step.

  • How is it that a culture that once frowned upon certain sexual practices now frowns upon those who frown upon them?
  • How is it that from the normal use of language in public broadcasting and in public discourse, so well tempered that even mild deviations were viewed as serious infractions, we now experience on a daily basis entertainment that has moved from the genius of humor to the crassness of shock and vulgarity?
  • Why is it that the more perverse the story, the greater the audience it draws on television or at the theater?
  • Why do people create false scenarios in order to have their own ‘reality’ shows?
  • Who are these icons created by the media of the visual whose belief in some form of spirituality seems real, even if they are made-up for the sell?

Has all this happened because our taboos were wrong or is it that, in a very real sense, we have pushed the Replay button on the saga of Eden and can now look, touch, and taste anything we wish to because we have become gods, determining for ourselves what is right and what is wrong?” (pp. XIII-XIV)

 

August 6, 2010

Let’s Look at the Amish

Somewhere near the end of our vacation, we were in a town where suddenly a horse and buggy appeared in the opposite traffic lane. Not knowing if my wife had noticed, I simply said; “Amish;” to which she replied; “Oooh! Let’s look at them.”

The strange remark — which I got right away, but you may not have — is a dry reference to people we know who say they are going to go to Pennsylvania to “look at the Amish.” Not shop in their stores and buy jams, jellies or crafts from them. Not spend a week helping out on one of their farms — the way one might volunteer on an Israeli kibbutz — as much of an adventure as that would be. Not attending one of their worship services.

No… just “looking at the Amish;” the way we might visit a town if everybody there had two heads.

But maybe, just maybe, we should take a minute to ‘look at’ (in the sense of ‘consider’) the Amish.

While everybody else in Christendom has suffered the fate of slowly being dominated and shaped by the spirit and culture of the world, these people have managed to truly understand what it means to be “set apart;” what it means to not ‘give in’ to the dominant culture and its ways of seeing the world.

And isn’t that

…continue reading here…

Photo is from Daily Encouragement by Stephen & Brooksyne Weber.

May 17, 2010

Religious News All About Sex and Gender

What makes a religious news story these days?   According to a quick look at the religion page of USAToday on Sunday, it’s all about GLBT issues and sex scandals.   Four out of the five “top news” items fall into that category, as do four of the remaining ten stories, and the featured story about the rally at the Vatican to support the Pope’s handling of the abuse scandal.

You can check the page for yourself anytime, here. Hopefully, in the days to come, you’ll find a “good news” story or something about doctrine or theology.   Right now, editorially, it’s becoming increasingly about a single issue.  In the meantime, please note that Christ followers have many more concerns and activities taking place than what you’re seeing reported.

March 6, 2010

One “Religion” Gets Preferred Advertising Worth Millions Daily

Their followers maintain religious devotion to their every pronouncement.  Their right to millions of dollars of free newspaper space around the world is never questioned, in fact many of those papers pay them for inclusion in their print and online editions.

These same media outlets are very cautious about granting space of any kind to Jewish, Christian or Muslim faith groups because that would be “sectarian” and they don’t want to be seen as promoting this or that religion.  So why is an exception made for this one group?

They, of course are astrologers and their daily encyclical is usually called “Your horoscope.”  Their belief system is secularized predestination — Calvinists, take note — believing that our lives are guided by the stars, in various ways, depending on the star (or Zodiac) sign in place at our time of birth.

My usual tongue-in-cheek reply to this is, “I don’t believe in astrology, but then again, we Geminis are natural skeptical.”

Kidding aside, why does one faith group get preferential treatment?   And how can any media outlet turn down any request from any religious group when they already grant one unfettered access to their readers?

Comments:  This is a piece about press discrimination or media favoritism.  Comments as to the merits of astrology will be deleted.

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