Media, Culture, and Godliness

My wife and I finished watching the first season of the hit TV show "24" on DVD last night. I became obsessed, yes I think that's the right word, with the show during the second season, and Kari joined me for season four after we got married. Neither of us had seen season one, so that was my birthday present this year.

Last night we had two hour-long episodes left, and only planned to watch one. But after the first episode ended, neither of us was planning to turn it off. (We both knew the other would sneak in to watch the final episode in the middle of the night).

In the next to last episode, presidential candidate David Palmer (played by Dennis Haysbert) is tempted to commit adultery by an attractive speech writer on his staff. She has been given permission to pursue the candidate, unbeknowst to him, by his wife who believes an affair would give her more control in the relationship. As we watched Palmer give the staffer a key to his private suite, and ask her to meet him there in a few minutes, I had no doubt as to what was coming. Palmer would give in to temptation, commit adultery, and find a way to cover it up.

He didn't. But that didn't keep the expectation I had from nagging me the rest of the evening. At what point did the entertainment industry switch to where the viewer automatically assumes characters will make the wrong moral choice?

And worse, why isn't the Christian community doing anything about it? I'm not talking about picketing, or boycotting. I'm talking about the fact that I watch secular programming and see good television. I watch "Christian" programming and see ladies with cotton candy hair, gaudy gold furnishings, and mullet-clad preachers in white suits "healing" women of their unmentionable problems.

The music industry isn't much better. Christian music is about 4 years behind secular music. Seriously. Britney, Christina, and Jessica came out about six years ago. Four years after they hit the scene, three or four (more modestly dressed) clones started making the charts on the Contemporary Christian Music world.

What is it about Christianity that causes us to react to the culture? What is it about conservatism that prevents us from being a trend setter, a light on a hill, rather than the little brother who wants to be a part of the game, but lacks the talent and ability to make it past the sideline?

Our churches don't need to be postmodern. We don't need to try to find ways to make ourselves more like the culture. (Wasn't that the sin of the Israelites when they demanded God give them a king so they could be more like the cultures that surrounded them?) The church needs to develop its identity apart from the culture, and allow the culture to come to it.

If our God is so great, why are we afraid to tell the world about Him and what He says? If He is the Creator God, why are we so afraid of reflecting that creativity through our own lives? If He created the universe out of nothing, why does Christ's Body feel the constant need to be like everyone else? We champion holiness, purity, love, justice, and righteousness as "godly characteristics" in ourselves (And rightly so). Why are we unwilling to reflect His creativity and proactivity in similar ways?