You spend any time on the web (especially news sites like the Drudgereport) and you can begin to notice trends. I’ve been noticing one here recently: mainstreaming.
Let me illustrate. Take a topic like waterboarding (not a nice topic, I admit…but that’s part of my point here). You know the war on terror, well, think back to all the Guantanamo Bay and Abu Graib prisoner of war interrogation flap in the last few years. Waterboarding was part of the content of that flap. It is an extreme means of interrogation (some say torture) where a prisoner is subjected to dripping or pouring of water on the face such that breathing is difficult and gagging is common. “You talk and we stop” as is common in interrogation (unless you’re Jack Bauer hanging by a chain). It’s not the kind of thing that you’d find yourself discussing at Dairy Queen. Nonetheless, over the past few years, it has become such a topic of conversation all over media that people know about it. (Had you ever heard of waterboarding before?) Today, do a Google search and you’ll get 1,010,000 hits (whatever that really means); you’ll even find pictures. More significantly, we’re not alarmed by it, really. Yeah, what I just described might make you queasy or shake your head but not rise up in outrage. At one time, it did, but not any more.
Let me get to the trend I’ve recently noticed.
Notice anything in those headlines? Porn star and public office. Porn star and world’s greatest golfer. Porn stars and safe sex. Porn star and Miss Congeniality. Mainstreaming.
Growing up, “porn” was a word that no one ever said. Porn “stars” were worse than the harlots of the Bible (though they are no different). Culturally, we had a firm line in the sand on the boundary of acceptability and porn-anything was out of bounds. No more. What should be culturally stigmatized because it is profane is mainstream. It’s “news” though the fact that it’s news is what makes it news. We even look at empowered porn-starlets running for public office like they’re doing something good; feminism lives! Gone is the view that such a lifestyle should be avoided, ostracized, de-legitimized, or condemned; that those who choose to be in it need to be rescued by the gospel of Jesus Christ and empowered by a culture to be legitimate contributors to society. It is mainstreamed now and there’s no outrage. Women and men, strangers, routinely and publicly engaging in sexual acts that were created by God for marriage in private. (You know, if you’re thinking that it’s one of the oldest professions in the world and so what? then you’re making my point.) Does the thought of your daughter cranking out X-rated films that others are masturbating to do anything to your sense of common decency? That’s somebody’s daughter, after all. Mainstreaming. Heck, I bet many probably look up the names and see if they can be “friends” on Facebook.
In place of what we have now mainstreamed as a culture but shouldn’t, are things that we should esteem but don’t. At some point in the past, the holiness that comes from faith in Christ was deemed boring; that God should be so droll and stingy. How backwards. We are so boring as a culture. For all our “liberation” from the shackles of holiness and Christian morality all we can do is slouch against the next thing that’s going to make our hearts beat faster (barely). When that stops working, we bend in a different direction drooling over the next thing. Pathetic and boring. Reminds me an alarming scene in a dumb movie, The Island. Some pretentious capitalist is explaining how this pulsating blob of human flesh without a face can be someone’s own personal clone to save their life. The whole premise is that you could live like hell and still get that critical liver transplant that your alcohol addiction destroyed all because you have a perfect clone organ donor. Disgusting. Our culture is like that pulsating heap of faceless flesh. No faces, no personalities, no relations beyond what our basal urges can demand. Maybe Freud was right. (On second thought, no he wasn’t.)
The real news is that we are a culture of losers. We are as mindless as those on our back-room screens. We have divorced ourselves from meaning in the pursuit of the next stimulation. The holy is now common and the profane is now all that matters. What amazes me most is not that we’re pathetic losers, but that God redeems a single one of us. He did say, “My ways are not your ways.” Thank God.