Wow. Just Wow.

by Mar 13, 2018ChurchLife, Culture, Personal, Piety5 comments

Wow—from an evangelical literary review that looks promising:

I’m wondering if perhaps “fundies” have advantage in our emerging justice culture that others don’t have. Fundies grew up knowing that what they watched and where they went had moral importance. Fundies understand from an early age that entertainment is never just entertainment, and that mindlessly consuming anything is probably mindlessly consuming something bad. Fundies are well acquainted with putting moral demands on the world around them. They are usually scorned viciously for it. But doesn’t it feel like the fundies were ahead of the curve? I mean, when you live in a post-CTE, post-Weinstein, post-Nassar, post-Woody Allen era, might not the fundies have a lesson to teach about what life is like when you realize you can’t think deeply and enjoy heedlessly at the same time?

Just wow.

This supports what I’ve been saying to both of the people who will listen: American Protestant Christian fundamentalism, for all its faults, has something to offer to the body of Christ—and we who have been shaped by it ought, if possible, to strengthen what remains so we can keep giving those things. (What many fundamentalists don’t seem to recognize is that other Christian groups also have important things to offer to the body of Christ, too. But that’s another topic for another day.) I am abidingly thankful for the unshakeable impulse fundamentalism gave me, an impulse to check the Parental Advisories on a movie before I watch it. It’s been many years since I watched a movie for which the “sexual content” section on Focus on the Family’s Plugged In Online went beyond a line or two. My wife can tell you that this has meant many, many movie nights spent in a fruitless search with many rejected candidates. Many “movie” nights end with our watching an episode of the Dick Van Dyke show (and we just skipped one of those, too).

I’m not holy because of the things I don’t do. Asceticism ≠ holiness. But I certainly wouldn’t be holy, wouldn’t be obeying the principles of God’s word, if I trained my conscience to accept ignoring Eph 5:3 in my entertainment choices:

But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.

It’s possible for Christians to deny the good gifts of God in culture by withdrawing from legitimate pleasures in entertainment media. But me and Andy Crouch don’t see that problem very often. It’s also possible for fundamentalism to become legalism, for personal standards to be applied Pharisaically to others, for us to practice our righteousness before men instead of before God, for us to claim biblical support for “standards” that we made up. Caveat lector.

But it’s also possible to so privatize the application of Scripture that I’m unwilling to call a spade a spade, particularly when that spade is practically nude and parading around for the world’s viewing pleasure and yet Matthew 5:27–30 is still in my Bible I just checked. I’m abidingly thankful for the power fundamentalism instilled in me to truly not care when the cool kids were all watching something I knew I shouldn’t enjoy. When people are being entertained by sins Jesus died to eradicate, I don’t fear vicious social scorn or the charge of legalism nearly as much as I fear the Lord. (I say this before God in good conscience, sadly aware of the times when I have failed.) This is my fundamentalist heritage.

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  1. Thomas Overmiller

    Mark, you said, “My wife can tell you that this has meant many, many movie nights spent in a fruitless search with many rejected candidates.” That sounds like my wife and me as well. So true!

  2. Adam Blumer

    We watch a lot of Dick Van Dyke and I Love Lucy (Amazon Prime) for the reason you’ve stated, even in Netflix, which is jammed with (unwatchable) content. Can we watch any new shows these days? Hardly. And if we want to try something, I do the same: check it out at Plugged In. Few exceptions pass the Philippians 4 litmus test. Good article. You’ve well stated what a number of us have been thinking (and doing) for some time. Not to tell our friends how holy we are because of our viewing choices but because we really don’t think watching crud is glorifying to God.

  3. Grant Jones

    Back in the 70’s when my wife and I started to have kids, we watched a lot of the “New Dick Van Dyke Show” and “The New Andy Griffith Show”. My kids were too young to have seen the original Andy Griffith or Dick Van Dyke shows, but the new versions of both of those shows that were popular in the 70’s were just as good as the original shows. Adam, does Amazon have “The New Dick Van Dyke Show” available, or just the original show?

    • Adam Blumer

      Hi, Grant. i’m afraid I don’t know (I’d have to go search the library). We watch the “Dick Van Dyke Show” on Netflix and “I Love Lucy” on Amazon Prime. I’m not sure whether Amazon or Netflix has the shows you mentioned. Amazon Prime also has “The Rifleman,” which is also a decent western series you may want to check out. In fact, in the first episode, I believe, the father tells his son the story of Job from the Bible and about how to deal with tough times. A different time in America when Bible stories and prayers were standard TV content.

  4. Grant Jones

    Thanks for the info, Adam. I’ll check that one out.

    If you get a chance to see “The New Andy Griffith Show” or “The New Dick Van Dyke” shows, I think they are entertaining and as good as the originals. They were made in the 70’s so have a more “modern” up to date feel to them then their earlier renditions, both of which were in the 60’s.



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