The Apologetics Group's Weblog (TAG)

August 25, 2008

The Enemy in Our Midst: Popular Culture and the Battle for Men’s Hearts (Pt. 1)

By Eric Holmberg

Tuesday, 04 September 2007

Who’s the character in Seinfeld with the funny hair?” A chorus of hands shot up excitedly. “Kramer!” came the almost universal reply. “What time does Friends come on?” Again, there was no hesitation. “Eight!” “Thursday nights.” “NBC,” offered one young lady, nailing the coordinates in both space and time.

“Complete this line from Spiderman: ‘With great power comes….?” “Great responsibility!” over seventy-five voices cried in unison.

“Now can someone tell me the difference between rap and hip-hop? Or emo and goth?” There was a brief silence as the audience cast about for the best spokesman to address the nuances of the question. But after a few initial observations were made, the response again became lively and democratic. Person after person shared either their thoughts on the distinctions or at least illustrated them by identifying their favorite artists in each category.

“OK,” the speaker said. “Let’s now take the advice of Colossians 3:2 and turn our minds from the things of man and consider the kingdom of heaven. Who was the man of God in the Old Testament who had no hair?”

Silence.

“What hour of the day did Jesus die on the cross?” Emboldened by the narrow range of possible answers, a few hands went up and numbers were offered. But it was obvious that nobody really knew.

“Complete this line from Proverbs 3: “Trust in the Lord with all you heart and….”

“…obey Him?” the NBC girl offered hopefully.

“Sorry, although obeying Him is certainly a good idea. OK, someone explain to me the difference between justification and sanctification.”

The silence among the church’s college group was now deafening.

In the last chapter of the book that bears his name, the great reformer Nehemiah addressed an evil that had grown up among the Jewish people. As they had intermarried with neighboring pagan tribes, their children were no longer able to read or speak the language of Scripture. Instead, the tongue of Ashdod (Heb. “destruction”) had won the day. The City of Man was again moving toward the day when it could conquer the newly restored City of God.

How did Nehemiah respond to this great danger?

“And I contended with them and cursed them and beat some of them and pulled out their hair; and I made them take an oath in the name of God (to stop). Nehemiah 13:25

I can identify with Nehemiah’s passion ─ even if his methods would get me into a world of trouble! (How far we have fallen! Many Christians today would leave the church if their pastor dared to just preach a sermon suggesting that they may need to repent.) I too can no longer be silent as I watch the salt losing its savor, compromised by its conformity to the image (and the images) of this world. And I can no longer stand idly by and watch the “meat” of culture progressively decay, nurturing an army of maggots that spread the disease of perversion, idolatry and violence throughout America and the rest of the world.

I will be silent no more.

Michael Medved’s Hollywood vs. America and the writings of Dr. Ted Baehr of the Christian Film and Television Commission, among others, have done an good job of documenting the blasphemous, relativistic, humanistic, sexually perverse, violent, occultic, and profane proclivities of a culture obsessed ─ in the words of Neil Postman ─ with “amusing itself to death.” One would have to be waking up from a decades-long coma to not know that a walk down the aisle of a local video store or a scan through the internet or the channels on your cable box is to see the words of the poet William B. Yeats ─ no friend of Biblical morality ─ fulfilled:

We had fed the heart on fantasies,
The heart’s grown brutal from the fare.

Consider just one “snapshot” of the American psyche. The Superbowl has been called our greatest game, pastime, and ritual ─ a super-sized and super-charged “public square” where advertisers wait in line to pay $75,000.00 a second to wave their product before the eyes of 130 million people in the US and five-times that from around the world. The climax of the 2004 half-time show─where a platinum-selling singer exposed the breast of another “superstar” while singing about getting her naked─ was just one more flashing sign warning us of our culture’s long descent into the abyss of nihilism and amorality.

Five years before, the whole world was subjected to the surreal spectacle of dozens of dancers wearing S&M inspired outfits writhing to the “music” of a band (KISS) that just a few decades before was almost universally condemned for their violent, occultic, and sexually charged lyrics and fantastically debauched lifestyles. Holiday Inn, an all-American hotel chain founded by a Christian, chose as their entry into the sweepstakes of Superbowl advertising a media spot with a transsexual-theme. One of Budweiser’s 2004 ads alluded to bestiality. Two other companies hawked drugs touted to help men with “erectile dysfunction.” And even before the infamous “wardrobe malfunction,” almost a billion people were assaulted with Janet Jackson singing about a man’s “package” (street slang for “sex organ”) and how she was gonna have to ride it tonight; a self-described “bad boy” (with illegitimate children and a penchant for carrying guns and throwing parties where nude women cavort in the pool) bragging that he’s half man, half drugs. Ask the clubs – bad boy, that’s whassup; another rapper grabbing his crotch while asking his dance partner to take off all (her) clothes; and a self-avowed “pimp” and “trailer-trash” porn connoisseur (whose hit album featured such pleasant sounding ditties as F**k That and F**k You Blind) performing a medley extolling the virtues of “crackheads,” “crooked cops,” “hookers,” and pornography.

Could there be more than a little irony in the fact that this took place as roughly the same number of people around the world celebrated the most important feast of Islam: Eid-al-Adha, the day where Muslims commemorate Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac? Even as our troops watched the Superbowl in Iraq─there to defend “truth, justice and the American way”─we were displaying to the Arab world the ugly side of that way. Like-it-or-not, the conflict in Iraq is seen by the majority of Muslims as a religious war; a struggle between good and evil, Allah and Satan. And there we stood, giving ample evidence that our culture had indeed become demonic.

———————————————————————————————

“The Enemy in Our Midst: Popular Culture and the Battle For Men’s Hearts” will be presented in several parts. Look for the second part soon.

Eric Holmberg is the founder and director of The Apologetics Group, based in Tennessee. He has been a champion for the cause of Christ for thirty years now, and is showing no sign of slowing down. To check out what else he has to offer, check out his website at The Apologetics Group.

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