Monthly Archives: December 2013

A&E Attempts To Save Face

Duck%20DynastyA&E didn’t really cave.  In their statement:

1. They made it sound as if the Robertsons apologized.
“…he and his family have publicly stated they regret the ‘coarse language’ he used and the misinterpretation of his core beliefs based o…nly on the article.”

2. They reiterated their disappointment with Roberston’s comments and doubled-down on their position that those who oppose homosexuality are not creative, respectful or have integrity. “We believe it is a privilege for our brands to be invited into people’s home and we operate with a strong sense of integrity and deep commitment to these principals (sic). That is why we reacted so quickly and strongly to a recent interview with Phil Robertson.”

3. They distorted what the Robertsons believe and pray for, as if unity, tolerance and forgiveness is all that Jesus is about.  “As you might have seen in many episodes, they come together to reflect and pray for unity, tolerance and forgiveness.”

4. They made it sound as if they forgave Phil Robertson.
“As you might have seen in many episodes, they come together to reflect and pray for unity, tolerance and forgiveness. These are three values that we at A&E Networks also feel strongly about.”

5. They most likely are going to air their new PSA on “unity, tolerance and acceptance” during the Duck Dynasty episodes and pretend that they are the same values espoused by the Robertsons in order to diminish the truth of the Gospel contained in the show.
“We will also use this moment to launch a national public service campaign (PSA) promoting unity, tolerance and acceptance among all people, a message that supports our core values as a company, and the values found in Duck Dynasty. These PSAs will air across our entire portfolio.”

This event is not about free speech.  A&E is a privately-owned company and has the right to associate with whom they will.  On the other hand, we have the right to refuse to purchase their product.  If a company punishes one of its employees or in this case, contracted talent, for views that are most certainly orthodox Christianity, then I and my family will take our dollars elsewhere.

What I fear A&E will do to appease the loud, obnoxious sodomy advocates is to push their new PSA campaign of tolerance, acceptance and unity during Duck Dynasty in order to diminish the truth of what Phil Robertson said.  They have the right to do it, but we certainly don’t have to listen to it.

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A Fireproof America

OK, I’m going to start populating my new blog with articles I have previously written.  Here’s one I wrote in February 2009.

A Fireproof America
by Christopher S. Brownwell
Fireproof2
And the Oscar for the Best Picture goes to . . . Fireproof.

Okay, so that didn’t happen.  Fireproof isn’t exactly the type of film Hollywood rewards at its self-important awards gatherings.  The movie doesn’t play into the stereotype with which Hollywood saddles Christians.  Hollywood constantly paints Christians as fire-breathing, judgmental, self-righteous, religious bigots.

The movie Pleasantville is a clear-cut example of this stereotype.  Set in black and white, the film pleasantvillemakes the point that immorality adds color to your life.  When the youth of the town engage in sexual playfulness, they turn from black and white to color.  The director of the film then clearly equates religious scruples with racism.  The religious bigots of the town respond to this tide of colorful awakenings by the youth by placing “No Coloreds Allowed” signs in their storefront windows.  This humanist worldview found in Pleasantville sees Christianity as an old-fashioned, antiquated philosophy that has outlived its utility.

When Hollywood doesn’t characterize Christians as hateful Bible-thumpers, Christian characters are usually shallow and underdeveloped like Alice Lomax, the mother of Keanu Reeves’ character in The Devil’s Advocate.  Alice Lomax: “’Fallen, fallen, is Babylon the great.  It has become a dwelling place of demons.’ Revelation 18.  Wouldn’t hurt you to look it over.”  Kevin Lomax: “Couldn’t forget it if I tried.”  Alice Lomax: “Oh, really? And what happened to Babylon?”  Not hateful, but still an uneducated Bible-thumper.

Often Hollywood’s “love” stories are like cotton candy: very sweet, with no substance.  In Titanic, Rose DeWitt Bukater was trapped in a superficial, self-congratulatory patriarchical world.  Her way to rebel against it was to pose nude and then sleep with the artist.  This artist, Jack Dawson, lived hand-to-mouth.  Rose’s mother, Ruth Dewitt Bukater asked Jack “And you find that sort of titanicrootless existence appealing, do you?”  Jack Dawson responded “Well, yes, ma’am, I do. . . I mean, I love waking up in the morning not knowing what’s gonna happen or, who I’m gonna meet, where I’m gonna wind up.  Just the other night I was sleeping under a bridge and now here I am on the grandest ship in the world having champagne with you fine people.  I figure life’s a gift and I don’t intend on wasting it.”  There was no real love between Rose and Jack.  “Love” to them was just a means to fulfill a selfish need in each of them.  Rose, to rebel against rich patriarchy; Jack, to squeeze every bit of pleasure out of his life.

Too often Hollywood is the arsonist who would burn marriage to the ground.  The celebrated Brokeback Mountain, which was nominated for Best Picture in 2006, subtly takes a swipe at marriage.  That two men find themselves attracted to each other is not the issue.  The real issue is that they were willing to abandon their marriage vows to fulfill their own sexual gratification.  Marriage was a shackle that got in the way of fulfilling their identities.

Wedding Crashers tells the story of middle-aged boys who crashed weddings, fishing for foolish women who would fall for their bait.  In the end they both found “love” and women willing to wedding_crashersOpforgive and forget that they spent their entire adulthood seeking one-night stands.  So, go ahead.  Live it up now.  When you are finally ready to settle down, you will have no problem finding love too.

Fireproof was in no danger of winning an Oscar.  The movie portrays the Christ of Christianity as the solution rather than the problem.  Caleb Holt, played by Kirk Cameron, puts into his marriage only what he expects to get out of it.  His affections turn from his wife to other things: his demand to be respected, the digital dream girls he finds on the internet, and his dream boat for which he’s been saving.  He angrily explodes at the perceived disrespect from his wife.  His wife wants out of the marriage.

At this point, the prevailing wisdom would say “Just bail.  Cut your losses and move on.  Marriages are a dime a dozen.”  But, that is not the message of Fireproof.  Marriage is meant to be for life.  Sure it’s hard.  Sure there will be rough times. But, as Ken Bevel’s character states “Fireproof doesn’t mean the fire will never come. It means when the fire comes that you will be able to withstand it.”

In surrendering to the love of Christ, Caleb Holt found freedom to truly love his wife and sacrifice for her.  The hope he found in Christ led to a change in his outlook and his behavior.  (If you haven’t seen the movie, but would like to, skip to the next paragraph now.  I’m about to reveal the tear-jerking ending.)  He humbled himself and began to help his wife by doing the little things around the house.  He destroyed his computer and gave up his addiction to pornography that kept him from seeing the beauty in his wife.  In an act of heroic selflessness, he gave up his life’s savings meant to buy his boat and secretly paid for the desperately needed medical equipment for his mother-in-law.

Kirk Cameron’s apology scene captures the emotions of the moment so exquisitely, deserving of fireproof_008an Academy Award. I am not saying that Kirk Cameron or even Fireproof should have gotten an award, even though Hollywood awards talentless actors like Sean Penn, and banal, uninspiring movies like American Beauty or Chicago. But, alas, neither Kirk Cameron, nor Fireproof were considered for an Oscar. The movie’s worldview runs counter to the messages Hollywood is selling. In a world where the political winds are enamored with “hope and change,” Fireproof demonstrates just the kind of hope and change Americans need.

The Light of Christmas

The Light of Christmas
By Christopher S. Brownwell

One of my favorite Christmas movies is National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.  My favorite line in the movie comes when Eddie surprises Clark after they arrived in time to see Clark finally successful in getting the lights on his house to work.

Eddie asked Clark “You surprised?”  Clark responded “Surprised, Eddie?… If I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn’t be more surprised than I am now.”

While watching this Christmas movie this year, however, I discovered a pernicious lie about Christmas.  Near the end Clark reflected on seeing a light in the neighborhood. “It’s the Christmas Star, and that’s all that matters tonight. Not bonuses or gifts, or turkeys or trees.  See kids, it means something different to everybody.  Now I know what it means to me.”

Griswold Family Looking at the "Christmas Star"This feel-good, post-modern, existential, pluralistic comment doesn’t enhance the meaning of Christmas.  Rather, it attempts to destroy it.  You see, kids, if Christmas means something different to everyone, Christmas has no meaning at all.

To Griswold, the true meaning of Christmas was to bless his family with a pool.  To Frank Shirley, it was to cancel Christmas bonuses and give out one-year subscriptions to the Jelly of the Month Club.  To Margo and Todd it was to avoid things that are dirty and messy and corny and clichéd.  But these different meanings ultimately clashed.

Post-modernism doesn’t believe in a fixed, absolute truth.  Everyone defines his own “truth.”  Existentialism is about defining your own meaning of life through your own personal experiences.  Pluralism has devolved into a personal philosophy comfortable with believing in contradictory truth claims.

Despite Griswold’s post-modern, pluralistic, existential philosophy, Christmas has a fixed meaning.  The message has been the same for 2000 years.  That message is that Light has come into the world to make a way for us to escape the darkness.

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:5.  “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and the people loved darkness rather than light because their works are evil.”  John 3:19.  “Remember, therefore, from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first.  If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.”  Revelation 2:5.

Light brings knowledge.  “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shone in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”  II Corinthians 4:6.

America has always been a conduit for that Light to shine.  In 1630, the Pilgrims’ pastor, John Winthrop, encouraged his congregation in the New World that the establishment of their colony would be a city on a hill if they obeyed God. “[F]or wee must Consider that wee shall be as a Citty upon a Hill, the eies of all people are uppon us; soe that if wee shall deale falsely with our City on a hillGod in this worke wee have undertaken and soe cause him to withdrawe his present help from us; wee shall be made a story and a byword through the world, wee shall open the mouthes of enemies to speake evill of the wayes of God and all professours for Gods sake….”

The concept of a “City on a Hill,” from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, was that all can see the city.  It is exposed.  While exposed, those in the surrounding valley would be guided by its light to a place of safety.  But, what was the source of this light to be passed down from one generation of Americans to another?

Our Founding Fathers knew.

George_WashingtonGeorge Washington in his Farewell Address: “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.  In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens.”

John Adams in his letter to Zabdiel Adams, 21 June 1776: “Statesmen, my dear Sir, may plan and speculate for liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand.”

Benjamin Rush in an essay: “The only foundation for…a republic is to be laid in Religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments.”

That message handed down from our Founders is that the Christian faith, which carried the belief in the Light, was indispensible for liberty to exist.  Light had come into the world that first Christmas morn in the form of Jesus.  It is the Light of Christmas that shines from our City on a Hill.

Some, however, want to extinguish that Light because they prefer the darkness.  The Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which is not about the military, religion or freedom, and other angry atheists have stepped up their efforts to darken the Light ofShaw Air Force Base Christmas.  Groups like the MRFF swoop onto a military installation with supposed complaints from anonymous service members to get Nativity scenes removed from Shaw Air Force Base and Guantanamo.  Brave warriors, trained to fight despite fear, then cower at MRFF’s demands and remove the offensive Light without a fight.  This type of cowardice goes on throughout our country where public schools remove “Christ the Savior” from “Silent Night” or a Christmas tree from school grounds.

What turns brave men into moral cowards?  Atheism is not to blame.  The philosophy that has been the most successful in hiding the Light of Christmas is the philosophy of Clark W. Griswold.  The reason why there is a war on Christmas and that atheists are winning is because the vast majority of the rest of the country believes just like Clark Griswold, that Christmas means something different to everyone.

The War on Christmas isn’t so much a War on Christmas as much as it is a war on Christ.  There is a war on a specific meaning of Christmas.

You see, kids, if we can define our own meaning of the Star of Christmas, we don’t have to worry about the consequences of sin.  We get to choose our own morality.  We can define our “own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”

So, capitulating to the noisy atheists at Christmas is easier and more desirable than to stand for the Light.  By doing so, many have dealt falsely with God, as Winthrop warned against.

People love darkness rather than Light.  We, as a nation, have no moral clarity because too many of us are thinking in the dark.  Our moral cowardice as a nation is showing in areas like our acceptance of same-sex “marriage,” in our fondness for sexual promiscuity, in our idolatry of sports, sex and alcohol, in our divorce rate.

The light is going out in our churches because we have rejected the Light of Christmas.  As the light goes out in our churches because of moral cowardice in their members, our nation’s lampstand will be removed.  No one has the power to extinguish the Light, but there is One who can remove it.

The philosophy of Griswold is wrong. The ultimate meaning of Christmas must mean the same thing to everyone.  That Light is the only source for our liberty.  If we don’t recognize the true meaning of Christmas, the Light will go out of our nation and we will lose our City on a Hill.