Category Archives: Pop Culture

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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Leaping to Embrace the Faith of Lady Gaga

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Recently, I read an article about Lady Gaga’s “radical faith.”  The author of the article extolled her for standing up for “her faith in Jesus, and for every person Jesus related to.”  The author assumed she is a Christian, but then curiously relegated Christianity somewhere beneath the “Gospel.”

Before extolling Lady Gaga’s bravery for standing up for her faith, perhaps we should delve into what her faith really is.  We are commanded to test the spirits to see if they are of God. I John 4:1.  First, her “radical faith” appears to begin with some form of Catholicism. lady-gaga-instagram Lady Gaga, born as Stefani Germanotta, posted a picture on Instagram of her with her priest.  She lauded his homily and highlighted a quote she connected with.  Her priest supposedly said “The Eucharist is not a prize for the perfect but the food that God gives us.”  This comment is somewhat silly and does not come near describing the spiritual significance of the Eucharist.

Jesus first instituted this event just before his crucifixion and resurrection.  He used part of the Passover Seder to memorialize his sacrifice that was for the remission of our sins.  See Matthew 26:26-29 and Luke 22:19-20.  The Eucharist is about remembering Jesus Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection that our sins necessitated.  It is not about “the food God gives us.”  Lady Gaga’s priest either taught it wrong, or Lady Gaga misunderstood what he said.  Either way the comment and her approval of it demonstrate, at best, an immaturity in Christian doctrine.

What about what Lady Gaga says about her faith?  She said she believes in Jesus.  Mere belief in the existence of Jesus, however, is not enough to have a saving faith.  A saving faith is one that confesses with the mouth that Jesus is LORD and believes in the heart that God raised Jesus from the dead. Romans 10:9.  Making Jesus LORD of one’s life goes beyond saying “I believe in Jesus.”  It requires a surrender of our thinking and our behavior.  We agree with Jesus about our sin and our need for a savior.

James said that mere confession is nice.  Even the demons believe in Jesus, but they are smart enough to tremble. James 2:19.  James stated that a confession of faith is useless unless there are works that prove a true confession. James 2:20.

Can we know if Lady Gaga has a true confession?  Isn’t that judging, and aren’t we supposed to avoid judging?  These questions, you’ve probably all heard, and perhaps uttered, betray a misunderstanding of scripture.  Matthew 7:1 is offered in isolation, usually by people who have not read any other part of Scripture, in order to condemn “judging.”  They fail to read the entire chapter to where Jesus warned us to be discerning (i.e. to judge) when people come to us with doctrines that are false.  “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.” Matthew 7:19-20.

We can often know if someone has a true confession. True confession is accompanied by good works.  Also, someone’s belief in their heart can be measured by the things they say.  Jesus said “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”  Luke 6:45.

What are some things Lady Gaga has said that indicates what is in abundance in her heart?  She said “I am spiritual, I pray.”  A lot of people are spiritual. Hindus are spiritual.  Atheists are spiritual, although they would deny it.  Praying may indicate an inclination to the spiritual, but to whom does she pray?  What does she pray about?  Being religious or spiritual does not make one right with God.

She said that all religions, which presumably includes Christianity, teach hate.  She laments that all religions practice bigotry against racial groups, other religious groups, even sexual groups.  “I’m a very religious woman who is confused about religion.”  Even the most mature Christian has questions about the faith from time to time.  However, Lady Gaga’s confession demonstrates she really hasn’t considered the truth of Christianity.  She seems to be forging her own spiritual path that includes only what is convenient.

Lady Gaga goes gaga for gay rights in Washington DC

She is a loud voice for the championing of homosexual behavior.  Her song “Born This Way” is an ode to the lie that homosexuality is an inherent, natural trait.  It celebrates the sin of loving a “different lover” but insists it’s not a sin because “God makes no mistakes.”

She used the example of the woman caught in adultery to show that Jesus loves and protects people and does not judge them. She misunderstands Jesus.  Jesus demonstrated love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, he died for us. But, he had to die because of our sin.  That is a pretty serious indictment on mankind.  Our sin cost us the death of God the Son.  Lady Gaga’s understanding of Jesus does not seem to grasp him in his totality. Jesus didn’t just love the woman caught in adultery.  He did in fact “judge” her by recognizing her sin.  What Lady Gaga left out was Jesus saying to the woman “Go and sin no more.”

The love of Jesus did not leave the woman caught in adultery unchanged. In fact, it is the love of Jesus that compels our change.   Yes, Jesus offers forgiveness, and his blood paid for it.  But what I did not read in the comments from Lady Gaga or in the article by Carlos Rodriguez was the word “repentance.”  There is no forgiveness without repentance.  Repentance is agreeing with God about the nature of our sin.  Repentance sees our sin for the wickedness that it is.

The pastor who wrote the article misses the mark in trying to embrace the “radical faith” of a celebrity.  He warns us not to question her faith because Jesus “said to focus on the log in our eye and not the splinter in Gaga’s.”  This pastor, who admits his confusion about religion and insists the “Gospel” and Christianity are different, ignored the point Jesus was making.  This pastor paraphrases Matthew 7:3-4 without finishing Jesus’ thought.  In verse 5 Jesus said to first take out the log from your own eye, then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. The point Jesus was making was not to never be concerned with the splinter in a person’s eye.  Jesus said that we must remove the similar obstacles in our own lives in order to clearly help those who are struggling with their issues.  The point is about being right with God in order to help others get right with God.

The pastor applauded Lady Gaga’s “experience with God’s tender love and mercy.” I have been a Christian a long time.  In my nearly 40 years of being a Christian, I have matured in the faith.  In that maturity I have discovered Christianity is not about having an experience with God. Experiences are emotionally driven and wear off.  Experiences are of little value unless they transform our minds.

Christianity is about us recognizing our depravity and our utter incapability to be righteous on our own. It is about understanding our need for a Savior. I do not hear that in Lady Gaga’s comments. I do not see the surrender to Jesus in her public life. AND, Jesus in fact did tell us to judge a person by their fruits. See Matthew 7 (the entire chapter, not just verse 1). Her heart might be tender toward Jesus, but she appears to misunderstand who he is and why we need to have our sins forgiven. Her “radical faith” seems to miss the mark as does Carlos Rodriguez’s praise of it.

I know this post is not an emotional, feel-good word.  It’s not meant to be harsh.  But, it is the truth.  It is offered in love.  We are not to be transformed by the renewing of our hearts, but of our minds.  Romans 12:2.  Let us not be too hasty in leaping to embrace the professions of faith from famous people and pop culture icons.  Understanding right doctrine and who Jesus really is will keep our hearts from deceiving our minds about the “radical faith” of celebrities.