Category Archives: Culture Apologetic

I am certainly no historian, but I do pay attention to the current events that I consider to be impactful. With that said, I offer this concerning the current political divide in America.

Bush/Gore

In my estimation, the great divide we our witnessing today began to manifest itself in the 2000 Bush/Gore election. The Democrats were so angered over the loss of that election that, by my observation, they were scarcely ever able to get on board with Bush. Sure, 911 brought some working together, but legitimacy was never extended to Bush. Then, came Obama. Never have we seen a President so bent on undoing America, nor one who was so successful at it. The right was unable to accept him. Then, as far as the pendulum had swung to the left, it swung to the right with Donald Trump. Unless you are in a coma, you can see just how shamefully the left is rejecting him. It all started in earnest with the Gore loss.

Three Parties

The wrestling together and haggling that we see happening in the Republican Party right now is what we used to see happening between Democrats and Republicans. So, in effect, we have a three party system: the far left, and two wings of conservatives.

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America: Melting Pot No More

Israel Zangwill, a Jewish writer and political activist well known at the beginning of the twentieth century,[1] wrote a play called “The Melting Pot.” In it, the Russian-Jewish immigrant David Quixano says,

America is God’s Crucible, the great Melting-Pot where all the races of Europe are melting and re-forming! Here you stand, good folk, think I, when I see them at Ellis Island, here you stand in your fifty groups, with your fifty languages and histories, and your fifty blood hatreds and rivalries. But you won’t be long like that, brothers, for these are the fires of God you’ve come to—these are the fires of God. A fig for your feuds and vendettas! Germans and Frenchmen, Irishmen and Englishmen, Jews and Russians—into the Crucible with you all!

Zangwill and his Melting Pot Playbill

Zangwill and his Melting Pot Playbill

God is making the American.[2]

That was then. Americans don’t melt anymore. Instead, we have chosen to hang onto our “blood hatreds and rivalries.” Now, we are polarized and offended.

A Lost Vision

I shared this idea with someone and they seemed surprised.

“You want that?” she asked.

“Do I want America to be a melting pot? Of course.”

She had confused the idea of people entering the nation illegally through porous borders with the concept of legal immigrants coming to America and becoming American. There would be no America without immigration. Illegal immigration has tarnished the vision of immigration as it ought to be.

It is understandable that the vision of America as a melting pot would be lost in the midst of daily examples of “Americans” who are offended. This present politically/socially correct disease, with its angst over things as foolish as cultural appropriation is really just the flowering of the failed philosophies of the Enlightenment.

Cultural Coherence

There was a time when it was common to assume that, with all of the cultural diversity in the world, there were certain universal principles to which all humanity could be held to account. But the Enlightenment era did away with such belief and replaced it with a deep selfishness that was delayed in America by our fight for independence and, frankly, by the grace of God. But now, the seeds of selfishness have flowered. Much of this is taken up in the discussion of Cultural Coherence.

Anthony Pagden, in his book The Enlightenment, explains that, with the onset of the Reformation and a new era in which modern thinkers “had made the ‘I’ the center of all inquiries into the human condition,” the fading of Scholasticism in favor of a “mechanistic” view of the universe, religious wars which left millions dead, and even the discovery of diverse peoples in Africa, Asia, and particularly the American Indian, the idea that all humanity in some way cohered together, enjoying some universal set of values, beliefs, and a common human nature, collapsed.[1]

Faced with such uncertainty, the only possible conclusion to which any reflective person could come was that there could be no certainty, no undisputed source of authority, in the world . . . Now everything that was known about the world, the rightness or wrongness of every act, had to be decided by the individual acting on his or her own.[2]

The philosophical, theological coherence provided by the accepted authorities (the Church, the Bible) in the areas of life that mattered most (heaven, hell, the existence of God, the Cosmos, etc.) was gone. The so-called “turn to the subject” which began in the pre-Reformation, was evidenced in the Reformation, observed by Galileo’s telescope, and codified and canonized by Descartes cogito ergo sum and Kant’s call for humanity’s release from its “self-incurred tutelage,”[3] all came together to midwife the birth of the modern self.

But the American experiment was to be different.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

America was different for a long stretch. She believed in God and decency. But Enlightenment era philosophy was always part of her DNA ,and when she decided that she no longer needed God, the seeds of that philosophy began to grow. In the past sixty years, America has invited God to leave her schools, supported abortion, crowned Evolution in place of a belief in a Creator, and embraced the abomination of homosexuality.

No, America doesn’t melt anymore. Her heart does not melt for God, it does not melt over her sins, and her people do not allow their petty differences to melt into unity.

NOTES

[1] Anthony Pagden, The Enlightenment, (New York: Random House, 2013), 24-64.

[2] Ibid., 40.

[3] Immanuael Kant, Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals and What is Enlightenment?, (New York: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1959), 85.

 

 

 

 

[1] http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/biography/zangwill.html

[2] Israel Zangwill, “The Melting Pot,” Act I.

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Even Conservative FOX Doesn’t Get Trump!

I was disappointed in several of the Fox News team last evening (Hume, Megyn Kelly, Dana Perrino) when they made a big deal about Trump’s unwillingness to accept the results if the election. Are they paying attention? With the Veritas videos, the State Department/FBI situation, the missing 33,000 emails, and a shamelessly biased media, why would anyone expect a fair election? As he said today, he will accept the outcome of a CLEAR (read: FAIR) election but he reserves the right to challenge an unfair one. Would Dems do any less? Would Republicans? No!

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Ellen DeGeneres: Caitlyn Jenner Gay Marriage Stance Is ‘Confusing’

Ok, so let me get this straight: the Olympian Gold Medalist Bruce Jenner, who changed his name to Caitlyn in order to express himself as a woman is being criticized by the lesbian Ellen DeGeneres because he is a traditionalist when it comes to marriage and seems to have a problem with gay marriage. Hmm…Jenner’s stance is “confusing” you say. Hmm . . . (guy has a male body but expresses himself as a woman to another woman who is married to a woman and thinks Jenner is hung up on the word marriage . . .) Yeah, I’d say there’s some confusion going on here.

 

Source: Ellen DeGeneres: Caitlyn Jenner Gay Marriage Stance Is ‘Confusing’

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University Urges Using ‘Gender Neutral’ Pronouns 

How far will American culture go into absurdity?

 

The University of Tennessee has asked students and faculty to begin using so-called gender neutral pronouns in the belief it will create a more inclusive campus.

Source: University Urges Using ‘Gender Neutral’ Pronouns – US – CBN News – Christian News 24-7 – CBN.com

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The Emirates Airline U.S. Open Series? Really? Are you kidding me?

emirates

I guess I have been asleep! It’s not like I am not all over things like this when I see them, but since I pay little attention to tennis, I missed this one! Here’s the official line from the Emirates Airline U.S. Open Series website:

Now in its ninth season, the Emirates Airline US Open Series continues to serve as a true regular season of hard court tennis, linking 10 summer tournaments to the US Open.  Fans follow the action throughout the summer during national broadcast coverage while players battle for $40 million, including a chance for bonus prize money at the US Open.  The Series collectively reached a U.S. television audience of 39 million and drew more than 800,000 on-site fans in 2011.  In 2012, Emirates Airline became the title sponsor of the Series, as well as the official airline of the US Open. 

Could someone please tell me why the U.S. Open Series is sponsored by Emirates Airlines? Emirates Airline is based in Dubai! I understand that they are also located in the United States as is every other international airline you can think of. And as a result, I can understand that various international companies might be called upon to sponsor an event that features international players. But for nine years it has been the Emirates Airline U.S. Open Series! Really? The image this portrays is simply intolerable to me! (Again, I am sorry that I never caught this before -z z z z z z!) If someday there is a truly American company that depicts itself as Muslim or Arabic, so be it if we arrive at that point. But this is an Arab company headlining as the chief sponsor of a major American sporting event! Are there really no American companies, born and bred in America that could step up and sponsor the U.S Open Series? Was this decision a purely financial one: to sell-out our patriotism because we needed money for stadium seats or was this a political statement being made by the United States Tennis Association?

 

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Jumping the Broom, Joyful Noise, and Unconditional—Three More Attempts At Answering Niebuhr’s Enduring Problem

Something goes wrong when we give eternal weight temporal human triumph.

The problem is that we have such proclivity to search out and enjoy a story for the sake of entertainment or inspiration that we immerse ourselves in the story and we fail to consider the compromises or the message of the story teller.

Jumping the Broom

Is the T.D. Jakes movie, Jumping the Broom, going to be entertaining? It looks like it. Is it going to be suggestive sexually? The trailer took care of that. But the question I am asking is how much compromise are we willing to engage in for the outside hope that someone in the world might possibly think about considering Christian faith?

When we tell a story that shows such grace and love and understanding for things like premarital sex, adultery, manipulation, deception, all in the name of a God who only loves, the audience leaves thinking that God does not require anything of them; that they are “OK” in their present state. The message isn’t that God is calling and wants to transform your life, it is that God has already come and He is with you right now in the life you are currently living. No need to change. Just give a shout out to the “man upstairs.”

Joyful Noise

Joyful Noise, once again a sexually compromising and suggestive “Christian” movie, wants us to place at the pinnacle of our hopes, our goals, and our aspirations, the triumph of the human spirit—the value of humans inspiring humans—as though this is man’s chief purpose. It casts a vision for a better humanity with the inclusion of Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” and various other pop songs all mixed in with occasional songs that almost pass for Christian.

In a review of the movie written by Ari Karpel, Dolly Parton expresses her feeling that God used Todd Graff, the openly gay 52 year old writer and director of the movie. From the review:

Ms. Parton attested: “He has been! [a vessel, presumably of God] God worked through him, that’s what I told him. I would joke, ‘What is this, Jews for Jesus?’ ”

Ms. Parton’s statement implies that some work of God has been done through this film and begs the question, “What did Dolly feel that God was trying to accomplish in this movie?” Somehow, Christians think that any mention of Jesus or any depiction of faith, no matter how convoluted or unscriptural, will somehow lead magically to someone getting saved and thus warrants any amount of compromise necessary, particularly if it means Jesus gets to go to the “Silver Screen,” which belies our underlying desire for fame and fortune.
Perhaps Dolly felt that Mr. Graff might consider Christian faith if he worked on a movie that loosely depicted some version of Christian faith, not thinking that if he did consider faith, he would be considering, not a faith based on the Bible, but one based on a compromised, bottom-up vision of spirituality with Saint Michael Jackson headlining from the loft of heaven, singing about a man in the mirror. A brand of self-improvement style, look-the-other-way spirituality with the name of Jesus tacked on for good measure, but it’s OK because evangelical Christians are just so tickled to be noticed because we so badly want to be in the movies and to be in the White House so that we can reveal to the world just how much we are willing to compromise just to be liked! We are Sally Field at the 1985 Oscars, gushing, “We’ve wanted more than anything to have your respect!”

Unconditional

Michael Ealy, star of the USA Network television show Common Law, is also the star of a new movie Unconditional, put together by Harbinger Media Partners and designed to inspire movie goers to “pursue God and serve others.”

So here is another opportunity to examine a typical answer to Niebuhr’s question about what to do with Christ and Culture. This movie, however noble an attempt it may be at drawing people to God (not hard to do when roughly 88% of the world’s population believe in God. Drawing them to Jesus? Now that’s another thing altogether…), has chosen as one of its stars a man who’s role on the USA series Common Law was that of an over-sexed, self-serving cop. But, because perhaps he has some name recognition and has endeared himself to his audiences with some notable roles, the “church” decides it would be good to make him a headliner in one of its movies as it attempts one more time to provide what is presumably a movie with Christian values in “theaters everywhere.”

I have to ask, “What are we really after here?” Is it simply that we feel like we should have good clean movies in our theaters so that Christians can go to wholesome movies instead of worldly ones (because we are going to the movies either way”)? Is it that we really think that if we remind the culture of some good moral values and tag on some mentions of God, or show someone going to church, etc., that there will somehow be a massive return to what we as a nation have forgotten and become a Christian nation again? Has this worked in the past (if the movies Joyful Noise and Jump the Broom are any indicators I think we know the answer)? Sure, the movies by Alex Kendrick and Sherwood Pictures have been inspiring, true to Christian values, and widely received by the evangelical church, but they are obviously Christian and not headliners for those doubling as sex maniacs—thus not the best acting but still worth watching. Are we trying to prove to Hollywood and the world that we can do it too?

Deeper still is the question of why we wink at Hollywood’s sin in those rare moments when they are willing to throw the church a bone? This movie endorses Hollywood’s behavior—or at least shows that we are willing to look the other way under the guise of grace—not in its content but because it features an actor who is obviously still willing to do whatever Hollywood wants him to do in order to be a star and get a part. Is it so important that we get another tepid message about “God” into the theaters that we are willing to say to the world “Yes, we think Michael Ealy is good in that T.V. show too and we know that God forgives human sexual weakness so we’re going to compromise ourselves in real life so that we can attempt to depict grace on the big shiny silver screen which we are so desperate to succeed at.

It is a real Christ intersecting-with-culture situation in which the “church” is again trying to solve the issue of what to do about human culture. Do we separate ourselves entirely and enter into Niebuhr’s “Christ against Culture” scenario, or do we simply get in there with the world and label everything as good because it came from humans and humans were created by God so therefore what they do must have some redemptive value—besides there is no hell anyway right Mr. Bell?

So the movie trailer looks interesting enough and will probably be inspirational. There is nothing wrong with that. If this were a movie produced by Hollywood there would be reason to cheer. However, it seems to be an effort by some well-meaning men who want to bring help to those who are suffering and want to create some movies with good moral values. Again, nothing wrong with that. My concern is that when people take it on themselves the duty of pointing people to God, and all they can muster are general images and references to God and His grace but never go the full distance to pointing them to Christ, we only strengthen the “I’m ok, you’re ok” mentality that says everyone is fine. God would never judge someone who has been through so much pain or who is obviously weak and unable to keep from falling.

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Maybe The Liberals Will Love You Now! The Bushes and Same-Sex Marriage

President George W. Bush receives applause whi...

President George W. Bush receives applause while delivering the State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2007. Also pictured are Vice President Dick Cheney and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It has widely been reported that former President George H. W. Bush, or “Bush 41” as he is called, served as a witness at a gay marriage ceremony in Maine. The newlyweds were some of his long time friends.

I think most conservatives thought that they could count on the Bushes to uphold conservative Christian values. The AP article I read1 revealed that, other than the two elder Bushes, Laura, her daughter Barbara, and Dick Cheney all support gay marriage (Cheney’s daughter is gay). President George W. seems to have retreated into an “I won’t answer that question because I’m not in politics” mode, and Jeb apparently thinks the state should decide and that we all need to be supportive of non-traditional families. All of this is disappointing but not all that surprising. It is the rare leader these days who sticks to his values in the midst of this headhunting, fragile, self-infested American culture.

What should one do when he or she is called on to attend or participate in a same-sex wedding? Let me answer it this way: By attending, and certainly by witnessing or serving as an attendant, singing, etc., you are saying “I support gay marriage.” If that is your stance then you have your answer. If you do not support same-sex marriage but you participate anyway, then you have compromised your integrity and registered your support. Congratulations, you’re like everyone else!

Abstaining from participating in a same-sex wedding does not have to mean that you do not love the people involved or that you are trying to sever your relationship with that person. It does mean that you have decided to take your friend or friends or family members seriously by loving them enough to be honest and not compromise your integrity. Unfortunately, the voiced lack of support for homosexuality or same-sex marriages is equated with hate, so if you stick to your convictions you will pay.

In our culture today, the thing we dread the most is disapproval. We have therefore practically legalized approval. It is becoming mandatory that all groups everywhere must be approved by all people everywhere. God forbid that someone should voice their disapproval of someone else’s lifestyle, thus causing them to experience the excruciating pain that comes with introspection!

 

NOTES

1 http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/09/26/20701781-george-hw-bush-serves-as-witness-at-same-sex-wedding?lite

 

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What we can expect with the gay rights issue . . .

Since gay rights have now successfully been elevated to the level of a civil rights issue–along with women’s suffrage and black civil rights, as per our President’s inaugural speech–I think we will see the current celebration roll into a full-fledged press for same-sex marriage across the states (as the article referenced below indicates). I do not know the amount of federal monies that become available for states who have made same-sex marriage legal but I cannot imagine that there aren’t any! And as brother Bill Clinton taught us it is all about the money!

I ALSO THINK that we will see a heightened assault through the legal system against any and all individuals and/or institutions who have not yet affirmed their support of gay rights.

Finally, since it is now a civil rights issue, I think we can expect a Constitutional amendment in the not too distant future.

As for the church, the recent apology from Exodus International served only to further the idea of gay Christianity. The bottom line here for the believing Church? As we continue to stand for the inerrancy of Scripture and an uncompromising belief in what the Bible says, we can expect to find a new seating arrangement with genuine, believing Christians relegated to the margins of society until we can learn to play nice with others, which in America means to affirm that every belief system is valid.

Gay Activists Set Sights on Next States to Target – US – CBN News – Christian News 24-7 – CBN.com.

via What we can expect with the gay rights issue . . ..