February 11, 2011 / Mediation, Uncategorized
In 1991, the Academy Award for Best Picture went to the disturbing psycho thriller, The …
April 28, 2011
Rhetorically speaking, it’s unbelievable that the media has recently directed (nearly) all of its attention to the “Birthers,” a group which is currently championed by author, businessman, and television personality, Donald Trump. Then again, this is America. So maybe it’s not so “unbelievable” after all!
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the highly publicized issue (by the way, if you are, you’ve missed little to nothing), the “Birthers” are a group of “theorists” who deny the legitimacy of Barack Obama’s presidency because they believe he wasn’t born in America. This theory (as it were) is largely ballyhooed by those we may consider fringe. Nevertheless, the topic has taken the reigns of public interests.
(For the record, Obama’s American birth has been verified. Two and half years ago his certificate of live birth was released (see here). However, many were still dissatisfied. The growing controversy prompted the release of the “long-form birth certificate” just yesterday (see here).)
So what’s the point? Well, the point can be best expressed in the question, “Where is the substance in American popular media?” Wherever you turn, media outlets seem content to focus heavily on stories about the Birthers and their conspiracy theories about the President, the Royal Wedding, the latest Hollywood prattle, and/or other things that we would consider superficial. But are we, as Americans, really so comfortable inhabiting a lower level of public discourse?
Now, you may be asking, “What does any of this have to do with the interests and affairs of this blog?” Well, the reason this issue is important to consider at the intersection of media and Christian theology is this: the contours of Christianity are most deeply formed in the soil of hardship and struggle (a la the Early Church), but if America is (as reflected by our media) so pacified in its current state that basal news stories keep us entertained, then maybe our position in life is too comfortable for Christianity to take root. Thus, our media says much about our interests,1 which, in turn, says much about our overall state of affairs, which says much about our posture towards Christianity. (Are you seeing the connection?)
Surely this would be one way to explain why Christianity has been on the decline in America while flourishing in places like Africa and China, wherein hardship (political strife, civil conflict, social unrest, and rampant religious hostility) defines many of the current affairs. (Philip Jenkins’ The Next Christendom would be a good book to read on the spread of Christianity outside the West.) Yes, it would seem that the soil of American culture and flourishing has acquired such a deep sense of independence and prosperity (though, of course, America is not a perfect place by any means) that we have little place for Christianity, which is a religion that has (historically) proven prosperous for those at the bottom; those suffering difficulty; those in turmoil and unrest. And American popular media coverage seems indicative of our general insensitivity toward such a Christianity.
To put it another way, where are our tribulations? After all, Paul preached to the Christians in Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” – Acts 14:22. Is the kingdom of God at stake?
1It is doubtful that the folks in Ivory Coast, for example, would be interested and stimulated by a figure like Donald Trump and his recent activities.