The World Behind Media

A while back we realized that we weren’t really watching television enough to warrant paying for Cable. These days, where we live, people with an old (15 years) CRT television set like us are pretty much dependent upon cable or satellite TV if we want any kind of variety from which to choose. So we ditched cable, deciding to choose what we watch via our Netflix subscription, which costs a lot less. Then came Netflix streamed movies on demand. In some ways, our household now watches more than before, only we choose what we want to watch, and there are no commercials. Well, somebody chooses what we watch.

I’ve always been a bit suspicious of media like TV, though admittedly more suspicious of newsy programs than drama. But then, drama, comedy, and other content all comes from somewhere too. That somewhere involves a worldview and an agenda. Today, I’m wondering just how much the worldview and agenda in family-oriented media contradict Christianity. Surely, there are contradictions, and most Christians realize this. But are we vigilant enough? Or do we too quickly become complacent? How many Christian households are well acquainted with Barney and Teletubbies, and what’s the worldview behind those innocent-looking stuffed aliens? How about Pokémon?

My suspicions here are similar to those of others, who may sound a bit shrill or even wacky. While I do appreciate concerns about moral corruption and insidious agendas to control the world, my deepest concern is about faith in Christ. Let those who want control of the world fight it out among themselves, as long as they leave me alone. Eventually, my family and I will no longer be in this world, and eventually, this world will be no more, while our true lives will be just beginning.

Through Pokémon (originally on videotape from a friend at church), my oldest daughter became interested in the Japanese comics called “Manga,” even finding some books of it in our local public library. I browsed one myself, finding the word “sadist,” which is not yet part of her vocabulary. They’re not checking those particular books out any more. It leaves me to wonder what anti-Christian agenda may lie hidden in the worldview promoted by Pokémon. “Aw, c’mon. Pokémon?” Well? If nobody ever asks, then we may never know. Stories are powerful.

All of this means we should be actively catechizing our families in the truth, and taking advantage of every opportunity to learn from God’s Word. That includes weekly church services, Sunday school, Bible studies, home devotions, and regular discussions to help us exercise good discernment. Some stories provide an excellent opportunity for these discussions. The biblical Christian worldview is certainly in the minority, and while opposing worldviews may not always be overtly hostile, they are nevertheless corrosive to faith, can destroy these short lives we have on earth, and may well lead Christians to lose our true, eternal life in Christ. With that, we should realize that there’s no escape from the influence of such things. We may be able selectively to reduce the influence (like with that Manga book), but we cannot eliminate it. This is the world we are living in.

Your Thoughts, Should You Choose to Share Them

Here’s a presentation of a certain philosophy that seems pretty compelling. I’d like to watch it again and digest it some more, but my initial thought is that it may contradict the biblical view of earthly government. I say may because, well, I’d like to watch it again to be sure I understand it. On the other hand, a philosophy like this may be in a different category than the moral strictures of holy writ. It may describe the way a government (for example) should operate, rather than the way it may operate. Is there room for such a distinction?

It would mean that this philosophy provides only part of a worldview, requiring other things, like religion, to inform morality. Of course, it would require Christianity to provide the Gospel, and that may indicate a serious weakness of this philosophy for the Christian: instead of being oriented around love for our neighbor as inspired by the Gospel, it’s oriented around individual liberty. Does that echo the Fall into sin, or does it echo the dignity of every human person as God’s creation? Maybe there’s something here for both the Old Adam and the New Man.

I’d appreciate your thoughts on this, or your reaction to the presentation. Note that this philosophy is not even nominally Christian, but I think it draws much from the Christian worldview.

Christ is Risen

In celebration of the proof that God has delivered us from the guilt of our sins, and from this place of sorrow and pain, I invite you to take a look at a little experiment I’ve begun on Blogger. It’s called Cross Ventilation. I’m not necessarily the only author there.

Psalm 16: Meditation for Holy Saturday

A Michtam of David.
Preserve me, O God, for in You I put my trust.
O my soul, you have said to the LORD,
“You are my Lord, My goodness is nothing apart from You.”
As for the saints who are on the earth,
“They are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight.”

Their sorrows shall be multiplied who hasten after another god;
Their drink offerings of blood I will not offer,
Nor take up their names on my lips.

O LORD,You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup;
You maintain my lot.
The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;
Yes, I have a good inheritance.
I will bless the LORD who has given me counsel;
My heart also instructs me in the night seasons.

I have set the LORD always before me;
Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices;
My flesh also will rest in hope.
For You will not leave my soul in Sheol,
Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.
You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

(New King James Version)

Should Churchmen Be Concerned with Government?

Your answer to this question depends upon your doctrinal heritage. The Augsburg Confession actually answers this question, and sets us up well for a good understanding. But as you read the quoted article XVI (from Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions) below, notice the dramatic difference between the Lutheran position and the position labeled “Anabaptist.” The latter comes from the radical reformation, which has ended up rather splintered in our time. Not all of the present-day theological descendants of the Anabaptists agree with their position, but some still do. More significant, I think, is the divergence between the political “Christian right” and those who would make a complete separation between matters of faith and government.

The “Christian right” seems to be most interested in social issues, unless you include the interest of some in the future of modern-day Israel. That interest really has no scriptural support, stemming from 19th Century dispensationalism, and perpetuated by a fascination with misusing the Bible as a code book. However, social issues generally relate to the Ten Commandments and the moral law, which is intended for all people, in all times.

Those who would like to separate matters of faith and government also have a point, in that there are two separate kingdoms of God, which we do well to distinguish. What some fail to realize, however, is that on an individual level, a Christian’s activities related to government are sanctified by faith. That means a Christian citizen is never a mere citizen, and a Christian office-holder is never a mere office-holder. Faith cannot be divorced from life, even where government is concerned. Those who try make a wreck of faith, or of life, or of both.

In fact, one of the main premises of this blog is that necessary connection between faith and life. It applies to faith both in the sense of “having a belief” and in the sense of “a doctrine.” I use it specifically of the Christian faith.

1 Our churches teach that lawful civil regulations are good works of God. 2 They teach that it is right for Christians to hold political office, to serve as judges, to judge matters by imperial laws and other existing laws, to impose just punishments, to engage in just wars, to serve as soldiers, to make legal contracts, to hold property, to take oaths when required by the magistrates, for a man to marry a wife, or a woman to be given in marriage [Romans 13; 1 Corinthians 7:2].

3 Our churches condemn the Anabaptists who forbid these political offices to Christians. 4 They also condemn those who do not locate evangelical perfection in the fear of God and in faith, but place it in forsaking political offices. 5 For the Gospel teaches an eternal righteousness of the heart (Romans 10:10). At the same time, it does not require the destruction of the civil state or the family. The Gospel very much requires that they be preserved as God’s ordinances and that love be practiced in such ordinances. 6 Therefore, it is necessary for Christians to be obedient to their rulers and laws. 7 The only exception is when they are commanded to sin. Then they ought to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29).