Was it Habitat for Humanity? We went last Saturday. It had been pouring down rain the day before, but Saturday turned into a beautiful day, despite the inches of mud we had to walk on. I started out on the roof, hammering decking (plywood) into the beams. It was kind of scary at first, but the more decking we had up there, the safer it was. I hit my finger pretty hard with the hammer, and it's been purple and swollen for the past couple of days. I can finally bend it, but not all the way. I wish I could say it's broken (because that sounds cool), but I think it's just really badly bruised, which isn't as cool.
Was it Holly and Sophie's recent health saga? Saturday night we rushed Sophie to the ER because she was shaking and turning blue, with a really high fever. The shaking and blueness were from chills, which stopped before we even got there, but we found out Sophie has early pneumonia. Poor girl just can't stay well! And poor mom is about worn out! I am still praying for Holly's salvation. She actually scheduled an appointment to talk with our pastor, but got scared and canceled it. Not that the pastor is the golden ticket or anything, but I was hoping he would lend some authority to the answers to her questions. In the meantime, I continue to talk with her, and answer questions as best as I can. I know it's up to the Holy Spirit.
Maybe it was about Friday, who has now started an odd habit of taking each piece of food to the carpet to eat. Nah...
Maybe it was my growing awareness of the filth (muck...putrescence, if you will) I allow to enter my brain via TV and movies, as well as the growing awareness of good alternatives. Leanna posted about avoiding TV, and Margie posted about not avoiding movies because of content, but being discerning as you watch them. Lately I've realized that so much of what I watch is meaningless, or promotes a worldview I don't agree with. Sometimes it's so subtle, I don't realize it. An example that Jon and I have given is Grey's Anatomy, which is a show we were hooked on for awhile. Then we started to realize we were rooting for things that were...well...sinful! We wanted McDreamy to leave his wife to sleep with his intern, who had already slept with the rest of the cast (plus a few more). How did our minds get so clouded that we would cheer for the exact opposite of what God desires? It happens in lots of shows/movies. We allow the director to steer us exactly where he wants us to go, so our emotions cloud our discernment.
So, here's the question: How do we deal with a sinful world, right in our living room? Do we embrace it? I think the answer is no. Do we reject it? Well, that's where it gets fuzzy. The book that Margie reviews (Hollywood Worldviews) suggests that we don't reject it, but be discerning as we watch. This allows Christians to stay culturally "with it," so we don't build a communication barrier with the world. The author, Brian Godawa, gives this definition of a "cultural anorexic:"
"[Cultural anorexics] miss the positive values that do exist in many movies, but also those who would completely withdraw from culture because of its imperfection suffer a decreasing capacity to interact redemptively within that culture. They don't understand the way people around them think because they are not familiar with the 'language' those people are speaking or the culture they are consuming. A communication barrier results, and these cultural abstainers often end up in irrelevance and alienation from others."
I have to admit I don't have a culturally relevant bone in my body. I don't even really know if Slater was cool or not, and I had no idea that was his last name. I always picked The Cosby Show as my favorite TV show in school, just because I'd seen a few episodes of it at someone's house (and I had a suspicion that I really wouldn't have fit in if I said The Andy Griffith Show, which I watched at the babysitter's house). All this to say, I've lived a life of not being culturally relevant. Has that built communication barriers between me and the world? Probably. But here's the deal. The media is not real life. Most people in this world don't fit in the mold of TV life. How many of you have talked to a medical intern, who have laughed at the "reality" of Grey's Anatomy or ER, or how many cops praise the accuracy of CSI? For that matter, those of you who've gone to foreign countries know how other cultures judge Americans by our TV, and what strange ideas they get about us (every American woman is loose, half the population is homosexual, etc.). Gosh, WE even get strange ideas about us! I was shocked to realize how conservative America is, when given the chance. What was it: California? who soundly voted down gay marriage, which lets me know that media and politics have a sneaky way of distorting truth.
So maybe I can't connect with the media, but I can connect with people. When people need help, it turns out that they realize what's relevant. I think of Holly; she used to do what was socially acceptable--party all the time, have a live-in boyfriend, etc. When I met her, she intimidated me, because I was the one who didn't fit in, not her. I felt the "socially unacceptable" emblazoned on my forehead. But she needed help, and I gave it to her, and it turns out that's all that was necessary to form a friendship. Sure, she laughs at me for not knowing who a singer is, or ribs me for being "perfect," but I'm real with her, and she knows I'm far from perfect. In turn, I know she's not "unredeemable," like so many Christians are quick to judge those who fall prey to the world's vices. (And I'm still quick to judge those I don't know.) I guess that's some of the point Brian Godawa was making in his book. He said not to reject a movie for its faults, and I'm saying not to reject a person for her faults.
Forget the movies. It doesn't matter if you've never seen a movie in your life. Humans are human, and we all have a need to be loved and accepted. We all mess up and know it, and we all look for meaning to our lives. Christians know a God who loves unconditionally, offers forgiveness and acceptance to all, and gives us each a calling higher than anything we could imagine. Now that's relevant. And we've got it! Why are we afraid of it? Why do I think, "Oh, she's a partier; she'll just laugh at anything I have to say." You know what it is? It's a very tiny part of my mind, whispering to me, "Your Bible doesn't have answers for this. You can't trust it to offer what she needs." What a lie!! How could I listen to such trash? But I admit that I do!
It sounds cliché, but the Bible really is all we need for answers. It doesn't have to turn us into pious, self-righteous people who can't look at the ugliness of the world, for fear of being tainted. Believe me, the ugliness of the world is right there in the Bible, too! And so is the answer for it.
Trust in God. Have faith that He has come to redeem the world, sinners and all! And He's going to use you to do it. Don't worry about whether you're socially acceptable, or if you can keep up with the latest lingo. The world is lost, and most of them won't care if you're a little awkward, as long as you're the one holding out the lifeline. God promises that He "did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self discipline." Take hold of that promise, and get out there!
This began as a response to Godawa's definition of a "cultural anorexic," and ended up as a call to boldness in our evangelism, because we hold something that is more culturally relevant than anything else. I haven't read the rest of the book, and would like to. The judgment he gives toward "cultural anorexics" can be a slippery slope toward allowing things into our minds for the sake of relevance, when that's not what makes us relevant. I'm not saying we need to swear off pop culture forever, but I do think we need to be on our toes and discerning with whatever we watch, whether it be the latest horror flick, or the summer Disney adventure. Discuss what you see with your spouse/friends. Challenge yourself to figure out what worldview the movie/TV show is promoting. And if it's promoting something you don't agree with, don't watch it! Don't excuse watching what's popular just so you can know how the world thinks. Keep it up for too long, and you'll find yourself as Jon and I did, cheering for the exact opposite of what we should.
Yep, that's what I was going to talk about. That's all for now. :)