Our Voice

The Hostile Culture

America’s culture becomes ever more hostile to people of faith, and especially to those Christian or Jewish.
Judeo-Christian ethics, morals and beliefs, once the very fabric of America itself, are under constant and often vicious attack.

Abortion, the killing of living, human beings, babies not fetuses is everywhere.  The Gay Agenda termed as unnatural and non-biological by the Torah, the Old Testament and of course the New Testament is everywhere.  Gay marriage, men marrying men and women marrying women has destroyed the once sacred definition of marriage between one man and one woman.  This hostile culture has perverted freedom into license so that now in America, virtually:

ANYTHING GOES

 Blasphemy abounds.  There is little verbal respect for the God of the Universe and the Judeo-Christian religions and principles.  Any sense of the holy or sacred is tarnished and so often disrespected with impunity.  One never knows when watching television, or a movie or even in the workplace for that matter when blasphemy, and of course indecency will erupt.  Children learn early foul language never used or heard some decades ago.

Many suggest that Christians withdraw, retreat from this ever-increasing hostile culture.  Come ye apart and be separate say some.  Live and act, as the Scripture states as a:

PEOPLE SET APART

Author Rod Dreher who wrote the highly anticipated book THE BENEDICT OPTION argues that the Church should:

“Embrace exile from mainstream culture and construct a resilient counterculture.”

So that the artistic, the cultural, as part of a Christian lifestyle becomes refined, changed, perhaps born again, purified of the immorality and indecency so prevalent in our secular culture.  Art removes the pornographic.  Radio and television become wholesome, Christian-based.  The theater, both plays and movies, come to us with a moral cleansing.  And perhaps most importantly, education once again stresses, teaches values, morals and returns to the Judeo-Christian standards upon which this country was built.  They the secularists go their way and we the people of faith go ours.  Separate but equal so to speak.  We do not support or finance theirs and they do the very same for ours.  Separate but equal.  Counteracting, challenging, offering moral alternatives.  A true and real separation.

But that is a difficult lifestyle path.  People of faith and Christians in particular constantly engage in the secular culture.  We watch our favorite television and cable shows, putting up with occasional immorality or attack on Christianity.  We pay for and watch current movies and tolerate the morality or the lack thereof we view. It is commonplace to be entertained on the Sabbath especially with sports and we allow that to happen.  It seems as though the standards of old that were basic to theatrical production no longer apply.  But it is wonderful to watch great movies.  One of the greatest I have ever seen is Amadeus, the story of the genius Mozart.  A brilliant music.  I remember the old sound of music, Camelot, wonderful entertainment experiences.  I remember well the clean comics of old THE THREE STOOGES, Red Skelton, Milton Berle and so many others who gave us clean comedy without indecency.  Return to that, recreate it, and separate it from the secular culture, so say those who wish Christians and Jews to be:

PEOPLE SET APART

Mr. Dreher and THE BENEDICT OPTION do indeed present an interesting alternative.

“Embrace exile from mainstream culture and construct a resilient counterculture.”

Then comes the opposite.  On the other hand, Scripture admonishes us as Christians to be:

SALT AND LIGHT

To the culture.  We should, as people of faith, engage the culture in order to transform it.  Writer Eric Metaxas notes well that such an approach is not easy work.  But he states that engaging the secular culture is extremely valuable and worthwhile.  But, such engagement:

REQUIRES THOUGHTFUL ENGAGEMENT

We should engage instead of attacking the secular culture with:

CHRISTIAN BLANKET CONDEMNATION

In so doing, Metaxas says, it may call for us to broaden our understanding and deal with ideas that seem unfamiliar and uncomfortable.  If we do that, thoughtful engagement, such efforts can produce what he calls:

GENERATIVE

That can generate new ideas, new thought processes and effectuate a better understanding of what is of real value in our culture.  Such engagement can indeed be life-giving, perhaps a certain kind of cultural born again experience.  There are millions, tens of millions Christians, who enjoy and support art and culture even to the point of making it a priority in their lives.  I am one, having devoted my life to communication primarily through the wonderful medium of radio.  We write and produce.  We form programming.  We talk to the culture, politically and artistically, and of course spiritually.  We do so with the best Christ-honoring music we can find and the teachings of those anointed to preach and communicate truth.  We stage events, concerts and support great artistic productions which honor the seasons, Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving and those which respectfully honor America, July 4-Freedom Day, Labor Day, Memorial Day and others.  We think, as Metaxas does, that it would be a mistake to withdraw from the culture and to simply engage it.  We want to participate in the culture, to help it create and to nurture, morally nurture what is produced.  We want PG friendly movie.  Television that is moral and without immoral nuances.  In short, we want to support good art in every way we can.  If Christians withdraw, disengage, we leave the cultural battlefield to the secularists.

Metaxas asks the questions:

When was the last time you participated in a boycott?

Or shared a Facebook post alerting your friends to a dangerous cultural trend?

If you are intent on disengaging, then inform and warn others.

Then on the other hand, Metaxas asks:

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU WENT TO AN ART MUSEUM?

OR BOUGHT TICKETS TO THE THEATER?

OR LISTENED TO A GREAT PIECE OF MUSIC?

OR WROTE A POEM AND SHARED IT WITH FRIENDS?

In short, when was the last time you participated in the culture rather than simply criticizing or complaining about it?  Great questions.  For, we live in this world, we are entitled to the best fruits of this world in our culture.  So, why withdraw?  Why disengage?  Be active, change it, confront when necessary, but see our culture as an opportunity, a resource and not a battleground.  To do so, says Metaxas, is not to sacrifice our convictions or beliefs by any means, and in fact to “stand by them.”  In short, we can and should do both:

DISENGAGE, CRITIQUE AND BE SEPARATE FROM

And as well:

ENGAGE, CREATE AND NURTURE THE CULTURE

That makes good sense.  We can both:

BECOME A PEOPLE SET APART

AND

BE SALT AND LIGHT TO THE SECULAR CULTURE

Both.

In short, we should play a major role in cultural leadership.  We can as Christians and people of faith employ:

EMPATHY

MEMORY

WARNING

GUIDANCE

MEDIATION

AND

RECONCILIATION

So that people of faith do not simply read novels and biographies but write them.  We do not simply read poetry but we become poetic authors ourselves.  We write plays and movie scripts.  And television shows.  And we contribute our hearts and minds to radio, we influence and reconstruct THE TALK.  We great our very own:

GENESIS MOMENTS

Where we as people of faith provide the leadership, the moral leadership which our culture requires.  We should reach out, reconcile and reenergize all those in the arts without “reflexively pushing them away.”

But again, Metaxas says, we should never sacrifice or compromise.  We should standup when culture is threatened, especially politically or morally.  When marriage is threatened, we resist.  When gender identity replaces men or women for bathroom usage, we should resist.  When there is every aggressive, even vicious attempt to excise God and religion from the marketplace, we should resist.  When faith is mocked in the arts, we must resist.

But there are far more opportunities to cooperate, support, contribute and even provide leadership.  We can and should invest in cultural works.  We should support good theater by buying tickets.  We should support fine art by purchasing paintings.  We should support the work of authors who write cultural classics.  No matter the size of the investment, we encourage the good in culture when we invest in it.

It really is a fine balance, both engaging and disengaging.  Both protecting Christian culture on the one hand by living as a “people set apart” and at the same time, being salt and light to a deeply secular even anti-Christian culture.  We can and we should, says Metaxas, do:

BOTH

I fully agree.  We should protest, boycott and otherwise challenge the pornographic.  But on the other hand, we should look at every turn for that so-called:

GENESIS MOMENT

So that we can learn to nurture and care for our culture and those who create it.  What would life be without great paintings, magnificent art, the SOUND OF MUSIC, learned discourse and dialogue, wholesome television and radio, all of the artistic side of mankind at work.  It is really in so many ways the stuff of life.  Enjoy it all for as the Gospels say of our Lord:

I AM COME THAT YOU MIGHT HAVE LIFE AND LIFE MORE ABUNDANTLY!

Culture at its best is the key ingredient, the fundamental resource of that abundant life.  Enjoy it as much as you can but at the same time, create and recreate it and bring our culture constantly toward a renewed appreciation of goodness, truth and beauty.