Internet Smut Challenges Me. Bring It On, World.

1 10 2010

I’m currently alone in my office on a Friday evening, working and listening to my Pandora music station all by myself.

Ever the ball of contradictions, I’ve set up my Pandora to be a veritable smorgasboard of musical genres–everything from Jimmy Eat World and OneRepublic to Eminem and Chris Tomlin.

I know. I’m probably the only person you’ve ever met that actually dared to mention Eminem in the same breath as Chris Tomlin.

You should see what else is on my playlist.

As I was dutifully answering the nine thousand (only slightly exaggerated, believe me) emails that accrued in the mere three days I was away at a conference this week, one of my favorite Christian songs blared across the radio.

I cranked it up. And, since I was alone in the office, I started singing along.

Someday I’m going to find out there’s a hidden camera in the office and I’ve been on my own reality television show for the last six months. And I’ll die of shock once I realize how many times that camera caught me with my feet up on my desk, simultaneously answering emails and talking on my phone to some guy named Joe who’s trying to sell me cookie dough fundraisers for my youth group.

Come to think of it–my life would probably be the most boring and thus poorly rated reality shows of all times.

After all, I am in the office at 6:00 pm on a Friday night.

Anyway, as I sang along to this inspiring worship song, I clicked on the webpage to star this song as one of my “favorites”. And that’s when it hit me:

BAM!

 A gigantic, half-page fluorescent advertisement for–well, I’m not sure I can actually admit what it is on here. Heck, this is a family friendly church, after all.

Suffice it to say that it was a very worldly, very adult product that I felt ashamed looking at.

It got me thinking, though–this is the age we live in. Sinful, dangerous, disgusting products are marketed alongside the most innocent and pure enjoyments we have.

I’ve recently been reading an incredible book that has my mind firing constantly, The Culturally Savvy Christian by Dick Staub.

The man is a genius. He has the uncanny ability to succinctly summarize every thought and feeling I’ve had about the world in my short life into an incredible book. Read it. It’ll change your life.

Virtually everything Staub wrote in this book has hit a deep chord within me, and has resonated with me. It’s affirming so many thoughts I’ve kept to myself about the Christian world–what Staub calls, “Christianity-Lite”. The basic message of the book is that just as our American pop culture has become totally superficial and soulless, American Christianity has devolved into “its own mindless, diversionary, and celebrity-driven superficiality”.

As Staub says in his book, “As thoughtful, culturally engaged Christians, we resonate with this world but at the same time experience dissonance when exposed to its mindlessness, soullessness, and spiritual delusions. Our role is to be discerning, discovering points of disagreement between our faith and culture by listening to both, then choosing a path that pleases God. We will pray and work for the enrichment of our culture, careful to avoid the threats and seize the opportunities it offers.”

As I thought about that ad that popped up on my computer and pondered Staub’s words, I realized that this was a perfect demonstration of that tension I experience with the world.

I live in it. I enjoy many aspects of it. Heck, I just admitted that I actually enjoy some of Eminem’s songs (I know, I know–I’m not saying I accept his foul language and woman-beating lyrics–just that he has some catchy beats).

As a Christian, I have a few choices on how I can react to situations like that ad popping up when I was in the midst of an uplifting, spiritual moment:

I can let it distract me and take me out of my worshipful mood.

I can get angry, and feel embittered–like I was just spit upon by an enemy. I could write a letter of complaint to Pandora and the company, complaining about how they ruined my “wholesome” afternoon. And then I would refuse to ever listen to Pandora again.

I can point to myself as a victim of “the Man” and rant and rave to my fellow Christians about how evil the world is.

I can glaze over it and not even think about it, giving in completely to apathy. I could completely forget that things like that ever happen.

Or, I can think about it critically–as Staub says, I can be “discerning”. I can continue to listen to both what our pop culture celebrates and what our Christian faith celebrates, and enjoy both–but with a mind that’s always running, always looking, always examining.

I think that’s what it means in Scripture where Jesus says, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.” (John 17:15-16). And where He reminded us, as Christians, that He is sending us out into the world as sheep in the midst of wolves and tells us to be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16).

I don’t see anywhere in the Bible where God tells us to put our heads in the sand and pretend like the world around us doesn’t exist. Or where He tells us to create our own cultural “bubble”, which allows us to effectively cloak ourselves in every concievable item of Christian marketing without peeking out into the real world.

It seems like a pretty good ploy of Satan, if you ask me. To try to scare us away from living in the world and dialoguing with people and items who may be totally contrary to what we live for–and thus effectively shutting up our potential eternity-changing messages to those lost people.

So, I guess I’ll keep on listening to my radio station, regardless of what smut is marketed to me–with my ears, eyes, and mind fully engaged, that is.

Bring it on, world. I’m ready.

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2 responses

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