Christians in the Culture

Here’s a little quiz for you. Who do you think might have said this:

Any guesses?
Maybe Michael Landon said it, speaking of his warm
and fuzzy, family-friendly TV shows.
Maybe Tim Tebow said it, wanting to explain why
he Tebows on TV.
What’s your guess? Which TV show that speaks to
young people would get your vote as being the one that takes seriously its
responsibility to make the world a better place?
Jonathan Chait tells us, in an article in the New Yorker, that  the person who is taking
seriously his responsibility to teach young people is Doug Herzog, president of
MTV.
Here’s the paragraph that contains the material I
quoted above:

The history of Hollywood is a long tug-of-war
between artistic conscience and the bottom line. Louis Mayer, fearing the
backlash from William Randolph Hearst, offered $850,000 to the producer of Citizen Kane to suppress the
film and burn the negative. The show Thirtysomething endured a series of advertising
boycotts. One scene, with two gay male characters in bed together, cost ABC $1
million in advertising; another, of them kissing, cost an additional half million.
Network president Roger Iger cited his “social and creative responsibilities,”
and the executive producer noted, “I am grateful that ABC was willing to air
the program at a loss.” Even some of the cheesiest and most commercial ventures
feel the pull of social conscience. “We’re talking to young people every day,
and a lot of responsibility comes with that,” said Doug Herzog, president of
MTV. “We believe that through the medium of television we try to make the world
a slightly better place.”

I have some respect for a man who believes in his
message so strongly, that he’s willing to lose a million dollars in order to
get it out. And it worked. He, and others like him, have done a great job of
convincing the world that the homosexual lifestyle is normal.
What about Christians?
Are we willing to spend money promoting our
message? Sure we are. The Christians I know are the most loving and generous
people around. They believe they have a message that saves lives and they are
willing to spend on missions.
Then why doesn’t the world think Christians are
great the way it thinks the homosexuals are great?  
For one thing, our message is, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” and that’s not what the world wants to hear.
Repenting doesn’t sound like a lot of fun. It brings to mind, struggle and pain
and a need to put sinful desires to death.
We can’t do much about that problem. The message
is what it is.
Another problem might be that we’ve treated this
country as a rebellious Christian nation, instead of as a foreign nation
needing to be evangelized.
The Moral Majority sounded more like Old
Testament prophets calling down fire from heaven upon the prophets of Baal, and
less like Paul who became all things to all people so that by all means he might save some. And as it turns out some members of Moral Majority weren’t all that moral
and they’re no longer the majority. Oops.
Chait wonders why the Conservative Right gave up the fight to make Hollywood clean up, but I’m not sure the conservative right should have ever fought to
clean up Hollywood to begin with.
What if conservatives moved into Hollywood to
live? Maybe Christian readers and movie-goers could look at Christian writers the
way they look at missionaries. What if we allowed Christian writers to follow
in Hudson Taylor’s footsteps and dress their novels and scripts to look like
Hollywood movies? 
I believe Hudson Taylor was criticized in his day
for dressing like a Chinese man, but now, most missionaries do what
they can to adapt to the native culture. How can Christian writers adapt to the culture without compromising their faith and witness?

Taking a jab at impotent conservatives, Chait says, “What passes for a right-wing movie these days is Dark Knight Rises, which submits the rather modest premise that, irritating though the rich may be, actually killing them and taking all their stuff might be excessive.” Very funny line. What about the Christian message, though? Secretariat had a modest Christian message: God created horses. Can we do more?

What is the Christian version of two gay men in
bed?

Any ideas?

Hat tip to Justin Taylor via Rebecca LuElla Miller, for links to Chait’s article.

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 is the editor of the Best Books for Young Readers newsletter. Subscribe for a chance to win a Kindle Fire or a Google Nexus. Winner’s choice, and it will arrive in time for Christmas.