Blonde moment

And the silver spoon.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Is it only about gay marriage or is there more?

I've been doing the "open minded" thing the last week by listening to MPR in the afternoon while at work. I have a couple of reasons for doing so. First, I can't get AM reception in the office. Second, I want to hear where some of my liberal friends are coming from. Third, at least I now have an intellectual reason for not listening to MPR regularly. One of the issues that struck me as narrow minded was the opinion that the election was about gay marriage and abortion. Though both are parts of the whole problem conservative Christians see with society, they are not the only issue. Gay marriage was the straw that broke the camel's back. When the camel's back breaks, one does not explore the last straw, but rather, why it was overloaded in the first place. I would like to explore what other factors there are in causing the conservative Christians to say "enough."

Let us go back in time about 15 to 20 years. What were the popular television shows on prime time? "Who's the Boss," "Family Matters," "Full House," "The Cosby Show," "Family Ties," and others. "The Simpsons" was considered shocking television. Now, we have reality television where the more obnoxious, vulgar, and sexually explicit a television show is, the better the ratings. We have television shows like "Desperate Housewives" and "Sex in the City." It is hard for a family to sit down and watch television together.

One might suggest that I could change the channel. I do. I do not watch reality television or trashy sit-coms. On Monday nights, I watch "7th Heaven" or "Everwood." I know some consider "Everwood" on the risqué side. However, it is responsible and considered a family show where people do suffer consequences for their actions. The rest of the week, I watch O'Reilly and "Law and Order" reruns. Conservative Christians want more shows like what we had in the late 1980's; and like "7th Heaven." They feel this way not because they want to suppress people's right to _expression, but to protect their children from things small children should not see. Again, the answer is "change the channel."

I would argue that there are not always similar alternatives to some situations. Take, for example, the Super Bowl. I understand beer commercials. I will even accept them. What is not acceptable are images like Steven Tyler from Areosmith singing "Walk This Way" with Brittney Spears. Wardrobe "malfunctions" are not acceptable. A society that thinks cowboys Toby Keith and Nelson singing "Whisky for my Men, Beer for my Horses" is too much for a half time show, but think Justin Timberlake singing sexually explicit lyrics to Janet Jackson is fine have priorities mixed up. Again, conservative Christians could change the channel, but there is no alternative to the half time show.

Conservative Christians are being forced out of the culture by the answer "change the channel." I say, "Why should we change the channel?" Enough is enough. Perhaps I do want to tell people what to do; to an extent. Justin Timberlake can sing all the explicit lyrics he wants. Fine. He should just have the decency to not do it during prime family viewing hours. Networks can show all of the smut and obscene shows they want. They should have the decency to do so after prime family viewing hours.

Part of the problem is not that conservative Christians are so closed minded that they cannot take the culture as it is. The culture is so closed minded to family values that they alienate the conservative Christians. In regards to television, if the networks and such really want a unique idea, try this on for size: have a gay or lesbian couple in a completely monogamous relationship with kids and let this couple teach the kids lessons similar to what is taught on "7th Heaven" or "Everwood." There are a variety of topics that this show could address that are not being addressed right now. This would also be landmark television, to the extent of when Ellen Degenerous came out of the closet. Would conservative Christians watch at first, probably not. But conservative Christians would be interested in a show that taught family values, and would consider such a show as a safer alternative to the smut that is currently on television. Bring back clean family television.

Another part of the problem is that actors and media members are condescending to conservative Christians. Conservative Christians are not narrow minded, uneducated hicks. In fact, most conservative Christians have good arguments why they feel strongly about obscene television and other topics. Pick an issue, such as the sexually explicit culture, and wait for a month after the latest shock. Then sit down with a conservative Christian and discuss the event. A conservative Christian may surprise a liberal culturist by sounding urbane and even citing decency acts. Conservative Christians are perceived as people who do not know or understand anything and are in a little sheltered world. They are perceived as people who have no appreciation for arts, poor, illiterate. They are people who are perceived as rich capitalists who are greedy and selfish.

Conservative Christians like orchestral and operatic music. They often provide instrumental training for their children at the same rate, or a grater rate then their secular counterparts. They have college degrees. Some are very well versed in classical literature and thought. A conservative Christian may send their child to private school to get training in some of these classics because public schools do not offer the average student such advantages. Conservative Christians operate food shelves, soup kitchens, and homeless shelters. Conservative Christians also contribute financial resources and their time to such things. Evidence in the Generosity Index. Note the placement of red and blue states in this index. Look at the placement of red states verses blue states. Thanks Mitch.

To quickly expand: I understand that because the private sector in and of itself does not cover the need of the poor, the government helps. I also understand that not all Christians tithe or donate money to the poor. However, neither of these are excuses for punitive taxation policies towards those making more then $200,000 a year. You want a fair tax policy? Eliminate loop holes. If you're a person who earns more then $200,000 a year and you're ashamed of the tax break you received? The IRS does accept donations, as does the non-profit of your choice.

The third, and final, point I will discuss about the overall culture is that conservative Christians have a different idea of what a well rounded education involves. Most conservative Christians want their children to read a wide variety of literature, perform ever increasing in difficulty math, and to be able to think on a critical level. They want schools to teach basics like reading, writing, history, literature, math, science, art, and music. They want most of the time in school donated to this, and not to disciplinary issues or to a broadened horizon assembly. Children can cover many of these topics while broadening their horizons and experience. Children can research different country, its culture, history, and beliefs. Understanding the facts will help children to form opinions and start to think at a critical level. Conservative Christians also wish to keep sexual education out of elementary schools, with the possible exception of an anatomy course. Conservative Christians just want their children to have a well defined period of innocence in their lives.

I would like to conclude by discussing how conservative Christians and the libertine culture can co-exist. First, sexually explicit or vulgar language should not be broadcast during prime time viewing hours. This is not suppression of speech. This is understanding that not everyone accepts sexually explicit material and vulgar language as a couth or educated way to communicate. Many, including those who are not Christian, consider such things degrading, both to people's bodies and to their intelligence. Second, develop more programming that touches on family interaction in a clean and moral manner. Third, do not insult the intelligence of anyone. It is one thing to tell people that their statistics or facts are wrong. It is anther thing to tell someone that they are stupid for having an opinion and voicing it. Fourth, accept that the vulgar and sexually explicit have absolutely no moral standing except for in the Northeast and out on the West Coast. Just because people like your entertainment does not mean they like your politics or that your politics are the correct way of viewing the world. Finally, if one is not a Christian AND has not read the Bible, do not call Christians hypocrites because they disagree with how you express some economic values. Yes, it is a Christian value to give to the poor and to help the disenfranchised. But just because a Christian is a Republican does not mean that s/he does not help the poor and disenfranchised. It might mean that the Republican disagrees on how it is to be done. There are many Christian values expressed on both sides of the political landscape. Many Christians have chosen to express distaste for the libertines who run the popular culture by voting Republican. Some recently switched parties from the Democrats. The problem is not only gay marriages, it is primarily the libertine nature of the popular culture and the disrespectful behavior of the popular culture towards conservative Christians.


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