Monthly Archives: October 2017

Judgment Day Is Coming to Hollywood

Harvey Bill sexual predators.jpg

Often I’ve heard that tiresome canard “I don’t go to church because it’s full of hypocrites.”  People dismiss the truth claims of Christianity because of the hypocrisy of Christians.  Mahatma Ghandi famously said “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”  Setting aside the fact that Ghandi is hardly an expert on Jesus, and his comparison between Christ and Christians came from having created a “Jesus” to his own liking, Christians do fall short of perfection.  The truth is the Church is filled with hypocrites.  But Christianity is the one place hypocrites can go to be cured from their hypocrisy.  Church is the “hospital” for hypocrites.

In fact, in the 1980s, a cleansing judgment on hypocrisy began with the house of God.  Several scandals centering around sexual and financial improprieties rocked the Church scandal.jpgChurch.  Televangelists Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart made headlines for their sexual and financial infidelities.  Oral Roberts insisted in a fund-raising campaign that God would let him die if he did not raise $8 million.

The Catholic Church endured its own cleansing when allegations came out of priests who struggled with homosexuality molested young boys.  An analysis of the abuse of children under age 17 by priests from 1950 to 2002 showed that over 10,000 victims reported being molested.  Some have suggested that there may have been as many as 100,000 victims.  Nearly 5,000 priests were accused, which is roughly 4% of the 109,000 priests in the American Catholic Church.

These televangelists and pedophile priests made Christianity a laughingstock.  But the Church dealt with the hypocrites by removing them from their ministries and from fletch lives2positions of leadership.  Instead of letting the Church deal with its hypocrisy by itself, Hollywood, as a representative of the larger pop culture, lambasted the Church by making televangelists the villains in their movies like Chevy Chase’s Fletch Lives, Steve Martin’s Leap of Faith, and Steve Curry and Annie Potts’ Pass the Ammo.

Hollywood couldn’t keep itself from throwing stones at the Catholic Church with movies such as Philomena, The Magdalene SistersStigmata, The Da Vinci Code, and 2015’s Spotlight about the Boston Globe’s investigation into the child abuse allegations and cover up by the Catholic Church in Boston, starring Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, and Mark Ruffalo.

However, Hollywood over the years built its own sexual-predatory glass empire equipped with several casting couches.

Having continually cast stones at those who promote high moral standards, judgment is now coming to Hollywood.  (By “Hollywood” I mean American pop culture at large, but especially those in film media.)  Hollywood has its own long history of scandals and hypocrisy.  Does anyone remember fugitive child rapist Roman Polanski, and Woody Allen’s sexual liberties with Mia Farrow’s adopted children?  Hollywood protects its own.  It even awarded Polanski an Oscar for Best Director in 2003 to thunderous applause, and Meryl Streep’s standing ovation. 

Corey Feldman spoke out against the pedophilia in Hollywood that he said led to his friend Corey Haim’s death.  Hollywood and the media put on the full-court press to shutdown the truth from getting out.  During a segment on The View in 2016 with Corey Feldman as a guest, Barbara Walters asked him, “Are you saying they’re pedophiles?…Are you saying they’re still in this business?”  Corey Feldman answered “Yes.”  Barbara Walters then lamented that Corey Feldman was “damaging an entire industry.”  No, it wasn’t the pedophiles who were damaging an entire industry.  Barbara Walters hypocritically blamed the victim for speaking out. 

Hollywood came to the defense of President Bill Clinton who preyed on a White House intern.  His sexual misconduct was excused because he kept abortion legal.  (Just ask reporter Nina Burleigh who famously said “I would be happy to give him [oral sex] just to thank him for keeping abortion legal.  I think American women should be lining up with their Presidential kneepads on to show their gratitude for keeping the theocracy off our backs.”)  Hillary Clinton and James Carville worked overtime to smear Bill’s many accusers as “trailer trash.”

Now, dozens of women have accused media mogul Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape.  In the throes of this scandal Harvey said “I came of age in the 60s and 70s when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different.  That was the culture then.  I have since learned that it’s not an excuse, in the office – or out of it. To anyone.”  Essentially, he is saying “Please excuse my moral ignorance. Now that I’m caught I’m a changed man.”  But, it was a story that the media knew about as far back as 2004.  NBC, however, spiked the story and flushed any of its remaining credibility down the drain.  In 2004, the New York Times dropped the Weinstein story when two actors, Matt Damon and Russell Crowe, urged the publication to back off.

Hollywood cannot sweep these accusations under the rug.  As more accusers come out, more and more people in the film industry have to admit to their knowledge, and their silence.  But, what has Weinstein done that Bill Clinton did not do to Paula Jones, Juanita Broaddrick, Kathleen Willey, Gennifer Flowers, Monica Lewinsky?  Why does Harvey have to go to rehab in Europe while Bill was able to serve out his term as president and remains at large?  In order to protect itself and its devious sexual practices, the power brokers of Hollywood will try to make Harvey the sacrificial lamb. 

The scandal of sexual deviance, however, does not end with Harvey.  Treating women (and young boys) as sex objects seems to be a systemic problem in Hollywood.  Ben Affleck recently apologized for groping Hilarie Burton and is now accused of groping a makeup artist.  The Left’s new Trump-hating darling, Jimmy Kimmel, is taking some flak for having done a bit for his “Man Show” that had women guess what was in his pants, telling one of them “Maybe it would be easier if you put your mouth on it.”  According to the UK’s Mirror, other Hollywood studios, producers, and actors are in fear of being exposed for their own “lay for pay” deals.  The Harvey scandal may just be scratching the surface.

In the midst of the televangelist scandals, Hollywood ignored its hypocrisy.  How did Hollywood respond to these Church scandals such as the PTL scandal?  They empowered the “victim” by having her take her clothes off.  The $269,000 hush money Jim Bakker paid to Jessica Hahn couldn’t keep her mouth shut, or her clothes on.  Touting her as “no longer a victim,” Playboy featured Jessica Hahn in pictorials in November 1987, September 1988, and December 1992.  She even made an appearance on Married with Children in 1991 as Al Bundy’s shoe-loving temptress, who tried to seduce the married Bundy into an adulterous affair.  Hollywood took the “victim” of the PTL sex scandal and starred her in roles as a hussy.

Doesn’t anyone else see the hypocrisy in that?

Hollywood was not concerned that preachers failed to live up to their moral standards.  Hollywood was angry that preachers had moral standards and that they insisted those standards are universal.  With the televangelist scandals of the 80s, Hollywood could safely drone on and on about “hypocrisy” in the Church while eschewing moral standards and ignoring its own hypocritical scandals.

No, the Church does not hold a monopoly on hypocrisy.  With the silence on Roman Polanski, Woody Allen, Harvey Weinstein, institutional pedophilia, Hollywood has a lot of explaining to do.  Having made much about Trump’s bragging that he could grab women with impunity, Hollywood now has to deal with an epidemic of studio executives, media moguls, and producers grabbing aspiring actors with impunity. 

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has now expelled Harvey.  In a statement the Academy said this expulsion was “to send a message that the era of willful ignorance and shameful complicity in sexually predatory behavior and workplace harassment in our industry is over…The Board continues to work to establish ethical standards of conduct that all Academy members will be expected to exemplify.”  Let us hope that is true.  Will Hollywood apply this new standard to the likes of Polanski and Allen?  Doubtful.  Unlike the Church, Hollywood is not submitted to a higher moral authority than themselves.  Instead of dealing with the larger problem, I’m afraid Hollywood will continue in its hypocrisy while hoping to make this current controversy just about Harvey.

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Authentic Worship Is Not A Therapy Session

Is worship all about our therapy, to feel good about our problems?  Is the Sunday morning service primarily for focusing on getting rid of our metaphorical burdens and chains?  Do we approach Sunday mornings as if it is all about “having an experience with God?”  And those experiences all too often (if not every week) turn into us dwelling on how God can free us from our discomfort and pain.  I know that where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17), but there’s gotta be something more to worship than having it always being about our situations.  I just don’t seem to think worship therapy is what discipleship is all about.  Am I wrong about that?  Honestly, I really would like to know.  It seems most of this singing in church is all about us and not about God.

Beginning a sermon series in the Book of Daniel, our pastor referenced “cultural Christians.”  Like a “Summer Soldier” or a “Sunshine Patriot” these “cultural Christians” only follow Jesus when it’s easy.  When there is pain in the Christian walk, they do not obey God.  Our pastor said that it is impossible to be a cultural Christian and experience the real victory or the authentic joy of the Lord.  Cultural Christians are about an outward profession of faith, but inwardly they have compromised with the world because they prefer to be at ease.  They are not fooling God.  They are only fooling themselves, and perhaps, their fellow church goers.

My pastor’s sermon got me thinking how church services are often unwittingly geared toward making cultural Christians comfortable in their compromise.  As mentioned above, the worship service focuses on “having an experience with God.”  The songs chosen, the lighting, the use of multi-media, the strategically placed encouraging words, are about how God meets our needs, and is all we need, and can heal our pain.  The music, the congregation, the environment produce an emotional high that lifts the spirits of these cultural Christians so that they feel they can go on with their lives for another week.  Then, after their lives of compromise get them feeling down and burdened during the week, we’ll do therapy all again at the next Sunday’s worship service.

The cycle continues, week after week.  No one is experiencing authentic joy or real victory because there really is no true repentance, or true worship.  Inauthentic worship leads to inauthentic experiences.  But, because emotions are emphasized over the intellect, the authenticity of experiences is judged by how they make us feel.  After focusing on ourselves in worship, instead of God, we gather around people at the altar, in group hugs, maybe with some crying, and we feel that God is in it all because of the way we feel. (Anyone who questions these worship therapy sessions are thought of as just judgmental, and quenching the Spirit, because they make people feel bad.)

Some will object. “Shouldn’t we want to have experiences with God?”  Or they might say “Isn’t being freed from chains a good thing?”  Of course we should want to encounter God.  Of course being freed from burdens and chains is a good thing.  I know that God does change some people’s lives during Sunday morning services.  I am not challenging the good in experiencing God or in freedom from chains.  But, I submit that those things are merely by-products of authentic worship, and should not be the focus of our worship.  When the priests came to the Temple to worship, they brought a sacrifice.  Sacrifice is what our worship services tend to lack.  Instead of coming to the altar of the Lord with our sacrifices of praise and service to others, we merely offer our petitions for relief from our problems.  Real worship acknowledges God for who he is, not just for what he has done or can do for us.

Discipleship is measured by how we deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow Jesus, not by how easy the Christian life is for us.

Sexual Liberation of Women Leads to Sexual Slavery

Women-and-sexual-slavery-Essay

The article “We Were All Meant To Be Sluts” is one author’s attempt to liberate women from the sexual shackles placed on them by society.  The author, however, actually undermines the goal the author set out to achieve.  He wants to liberate women’s sexuality from society’s “system” of morality.  However, his postmodern advice will only lead to the sexual slavery of women.  (I do find it somewhat self-serving that a MAN would champion the sexual liberation of women, perhaps creating more willing sexual experiences for himself.)

Mark Groves, the author, asked “If sexuality and sexual freedom brings our character into question, then what do we think about the many wise and amazing human beings who found themselves and learned their lessons through sexual exploration and being open-mindedhit-by-bus about making mistakes?”  This statement assumes that personal experience is a preferred way of gaining wisdom.  You can certainly gain wisdom by walking in front of a moving bus, but wisdom from doing that is best learned from other people’s experiences.  There are consequences to sex outside of the safety of marriage, especially if those sexual encounters are frequent.  Sexual boundaries are meant to protect people from the consequences of promiscuity.

Mark also based most of his article on a straw man argument that those who promote the benefits of marriage and warn against the consequences of sex outside of the lifetime straw manexclusivity of one man and one woman have a “fear of sexuality.”  Yes, there are consequences for promiscuity that can have serious repercussions for families and society.  But, we do not fear the sex act.  Sex within the boundaries of marriage is satisfying and stabilizing.  Sex within marriage protects women from the savage, unrestrained sexuality of men.

Mark reduced marriage from a sacred status to simply “a beautiful thing” because the “divine heterosexuals who rule the institution” get divorced, commit adultery, and view pornography.  He is saying that marriage is only as important as people treat it; that the worth of marriage is wrapped up in the worth people give it.  By that logic black slaves were unimportant because slave owners treated them poorly; or that women in Saudi Arabia are less valuable than men because they are treated poorly.  Contrary to Mark’s assertion, marriage has inherent worth regardless of whether people treat it as valuable, because the One who created the institution of marriage defined and gave it value.  That people do not value what is inherently valuable does not reduce marriage’s worth.

In a bit of hypocrisy, Mark decried the suppression of female (promiscuous) sexuality in one breath, but then in the next breath, he shames the sexual freedom of rapists, child molesters, and people with sexual fetishes.  By what standard of morality does he condemn rape and child molestation?  Who decreed those sexual practices to be wrong?francis schaeffer feet in mid air.jpg  Mark Groves? Society?  If society has decreed rape wrong, isn’t that just another “system” that interferes with someone’s sexual freedom?  Didn’t society once say homosexual sex should be punished? Isn’t it society’s “system” that puts the brakes on female (promiscuous) sexuality?  Why is Mark upholding one system that suppresses someone’s sexual freedom while trying to tear down that system for sexual practices he prefers?  The truth is, Mark has no standard by which he chooses other than his own personal preferences.  Christianity, on the other hand, has a moral foundation for saying rape and child molestation is wrong because such acts are decreed wrong by a transcendent moral source, God.  In reality, Christianity promotes an eternal, objective standard of morality, while Mark promotes a relative, subjective standard that changes with the whims of society.

Towards the end of his article Mark offered a bit of postmodern nonsense advice.  He postmodernism relative truthsaid “There is no one way to do anything. And anyone who claims to have it all figured out is the very person to run from” and “There is no ‘right way’. There is only your way. And no one knows your life better than you. Live YOUR truth.”  He is essentially saying “You can’t tell people what to do” which is, of course, telling you what to do.  The problem with this advice is that it is self-defeating.  Self-defeating statements cannot possibly be true.  He is saying that truth is relative. The problem here is that he is making an absolute truth claim.  He is saying “It is true that truth doesn’t apply to everyone.” But in order for him to make that claim, his truth claim has to be true for everyone.  His assertion is self-defeating, and therefore, not true.  The truth is that truth is true for everyone.

Mark tries to summon the magic of John Lennon’s “Imagine” with his several “Imagine if” statements. He said “Imagine if we were told to just play, see, and feel.”  Yes, imagine acalvinhobbesmoralrelativism world where everyone did as he pleased.  Imagine if there were no judgments to prevent you from playing, seeing, and feeling what you’d like. Imagine no boundaries where the strength of men overpowers the weakness of women, but no one was allowed to make any judgments.  That is the world Mark Groves will find with his bad advice.

He tries to prevent this outcome by asserting “all of our decisions just need to be guided by our human capacity and desire to be kind. If every decision we made were based on the answer to the question: ‘What would love do?'”  But, Mark has no moral foundation to base his guidance on “human capacity and desire to be kind.”  “Human capacity and desire to be kind?” What if someone doesn’t want to be kind?  What gives Mark the authority to force someone to make decisions on kindness?  Who gets to define what “kindness” is?

Mark talked about “love” but then in the end just defines love as the sexual act.  “You are the expert of you. You know you better than anyone. You know how you love. You know what feels good, and you know what your heart beats for. You know what you want to try and what you are curious about.”  “Love” in his imaginary world is nothing more than the banality of sex for the sake of an orgasm.

human-trafficking.jpgAll that Mark has done with his article is to give people an excuse to “Live YOUR truth,” to abandon commitments because they are no longer pleasurable.  That world would not be paradise for women, but a hell on earth. Trying to liberate women, Mark Groves would put them in chains.