A Slow Fade . . . .
If you remember anything about 1960’s television, you remember the original Batman series. Bright, psychedelic colors. Comic book type speech balloons exploding during the scenes. And, of course, Robin with his turn of that famous phrase, “Holy (insert a danger), Batman”.
At the age of 10, I was a DC Comic fanatic. I loved Superman, Batman and Robin, Aquaman, the Flash, and Justice League of America. What I remember well about these comics was the simple stories and the triumph of good over evil and the lack of violent deaths. If death occurred, it was implied and took place off the page.
When I was 12, bored out of my skull in my parents’ home town of Saline on a long summer weekend, I entered the local drug store. They didn’t have drugs, but they had comics. I had read all of the DC Comics available but I had never read a Marvel comic. I talked about this experience in this post, but to summarize: in desperation, I bought a copy of Fantastic Four #66 . As I read the comic, I realized it was very, very different from DC Comics. There was the Thing, a deformed being who was in love with an ordinary woman. Rather than be repulsed by his appearance, this blind woman loved the Thing unconditionally! You mean someone could love even me, this little awkward fat, gestating nerd? I was also shocked when people died in the story. Not off the page, but right there in plain sight. Not particularly graphic, but they were dead and the writers were not afraid to show it. In fact, those brief and infrequent scenes of death were all the more shocking and moving because of their scarcity.
I was hooked! Here was meat where I had been sampling milk and cookies. Here was real angst I could relate to as an adolescent. I went back to the drug store and bought every Marvel comic they had and my fate was sealed. I never read another DC Comic again.
About ten years later, a friend asked me to come over and play Dungeons and Dragons. What is that, I asked? He outlined an interactive role playing game (printed out as a manual, not computerized!) featuring demons and wizards and witches and trolls and goblins. My alarms went off. Did I want to get involved with the occult? At this point in our culture, any such games smacked of Satanism and involvement with ideas that could allow the occult to enter into my life. I kindly refused.
My son was around 11 or so and he approached me about a card game called “Magic”. Together, we sat down and discussed what this card game involves. I saw a natural progression from D&D to Magic, an immersive game that substituted the manual for game cards; collectible cards. But, I realized that the ideas and concepts were very advanced and very mature — mainly for teenagers and adults. So, I told my son, “No” and together we found an alternative, role playing card games from Star Wars and Star Trek and Babylon 5. Sean was a bit disappointed in not playing Magic, but he excelled at the other games. In fact, we visited the 30th Annual Star Trek Convention in Pasadena in 1996 and Sean played a new version of the Star Trek game in a test phase. The developers told me he picked up about a dozen problems with the game playing and they were able to improve the game play before the complete release of the game.
Now, we move on to DOOM. I was not hesitant to introduce my kids to computers. Sean could play on my computer, a Commodore 128, by the time he was 2. He had his own computer by the time he was 5. I started buying him game consoles very early. I wanted him to be an early adopter of digital technology because I knew this was the world in which he would grow up. When he was 13 or 14 he wanted to buy DOOM for his computer. Once again, we sat down and reviewed the game and looked at some of the test screens. My answer was “No”. The graphics were so intensive; the first person shooter was so ruthless I didn’t think it was appropriate for his age. I promised him that by the time he was 16, I would let him play anything that was rated for his age. Instead, he and I played a Mac based game, Marathon. This game had a first person shooter perspective and I was reluctant to play because you could kill human beings and they would explode in gore. But, the game also had puzzles and mind games. I played it to the very end. Sean went on to play all three versions of the game.
I bring all of this up because I have seen a progression in our world. I’ve watched our sensitivity to the value of human life plummet as a society. It is reflected in our art. It started in comic books and movies and television shows as our culture deteriorated into postmodernism. I think the turning point was the Vietnam War. Prior to that period, our views of war and senseless death were sanitized. We did not have television coverage during the Korean War or World War II. But, the Vietnam War afforded the media an opportunity to show real war and death and carnage in its immediate, colorful, raw form.
The media saw an opportunity for personal advancement; for sales; for money; for fame; for awards; and for advancement of anti-government agendas. Now, every day at dinner time, instead of family sitting around the dinner table discussing the ordinary events of the day they were bombarded with gory, bloody stories of this endless, pointless war. Death seeped into our culture, unfettered, unedited, immersive. The world shifted and changed in 1968 with the death of Martin Luther Kind, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy and the uprise of the war protests.
It has been downhill since then. Funny that the generation that embraced the sanctity of every individual human being led to the civil rights movement and the women’s equality movement also has turned that whole paradigm upside down. Now, there is very little regard for human life unless it is our own. We have become such a self centered, selfish society screaming for our needs to be met. We are so de-sensitized to death and destruction that there are those among us who actually praise the development of a video game such as “Playing Columbine” where you can assume the role of one of the killers in that horrific event and kill high school students with abandon. It’s just a game! It’s just art! It has no relationship to my behavior once I walk away from that game! Get over it!
No, it is not the after effect of such a game I worry about. It is the mindset that allowed it to be developed to begin with and the lack of discernment when one sits down to play it with the thought that there is nothing wrong here. I’m sorry, but after 57 years on this earth I am convinced that ideas have consequences. I am convinced that what we put into our minds and hearts will have an effect on our behavior. What is next? A Holocaust simulator? A game where we can imprison and torture Jewish civilians and become Dr. Mengele and experiment on them before we gas them and throw them into the ovens? Is that where we are headed?
Ravi Zacharias once said “The only thing worse than nostalgia is amnesia.” Are we forgetting what it means to be human?
No matter what spiritual values you may or may not have, there is great wisdom in what Jesus of Nazareth said about what we put into our minds and hearts:
Luke 6:45 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 12:34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
What do we treasure? What are we putting into our minds and hearts? I don’t care what studies do or do not show, common sense tells us that what we put into our minds and hearts becomes a part of what we are and how we act. It has always been that way and shall always be that way!
Tomorrow, I want to share some thoughts from my son on these issues.
Can Christians Make a Difference Anymore?
I am stick to my stomach!
I am repulsed beyond repulsion!
I cannot believe what I read last week.
Two medical ethicists working with an Australian university have written a post in the Journal of Medical Ethics that if abortion of a fetus is allowable, so should be the termination of a newborn.
That’s right! If you missed your chance to have an abortion, then just have the newborn killed! And, we’re not even talking about throwing babies in the fire to worship Baal!
Here is more of what they said:
“Alberto Giubilini with Monash University in Melbourne and Francesca Minerva at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at the University of Melbourne write that in ‘circumstances occur[ing] after birth such that they would have justified abortion, what we call after-birth abortion should be permissible.’”
They want to change the name of such a “procedure” to “after birth abortion” instead of infanticide because it
“[emphasizes] that the moral status of the individual killed is comparable with that of a fetus (on which ‘abortions’ in the traditional sense are performed) rather than to that of a child.”
You must read this article NOW at this link:
Why am I making such a big deal, other than the obvious reasons this is INSANE and WRONG?
We have seen the devaluation of human life before. When humans become mere chunks of flesh or “meat sacks” then we have lost our way as humans. We are indeed animals. No surprise here. Look what Paul said in Romans 1:
For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised.
Now, I have friends who are atheists, agnostics, evolutionists, naturalists, Muslims, and Hindus. I cannot imagine a single one of them condoning the killing of a newborn because the mother and father no longer desire to raise the child. This transcends world views! This transcends philosophies and theologies. If we, as a culture, condone killing newborn babies, then we, as a culture deserve to disappear; be destroyed; be cast down and ground under like dust. The killing of newborns is NOT an act of a civilized nation. And, any thinking person MUST stand up to this! We simply must! For if we don’t, then we are no better than those who killed 6 million Jews because they were deemed “inferior”!
But in doing so, beware. To take a stand on anything implies that we have an absolute value system about that issue. It makes the statement that there are transcendent values; moral values that cannot be made or destroyed by human agency. Our Declaration of Independence labels these as “inalienable” rights. The right to LIFE, LIBERTY, and the PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS. Inalienable means a right that is transcendent and beyond human control. It CANNOT be taken away!
As published Christian authors, those of us who tell the Story of Truth can help to shape and mold public opinion. Writers have for centuries represent the forefront of cultural change mostly for the worse. But, we can do the opposite. We can write blog entries, essays, emails, Tweets, and, yes, stories that champion the kind of values that our culture has lost. We can be salt and light in the world, raising the beacon of Truth to a world steeped in darkness and evil. If we don’t speak up; if we don’t put into words our outrage over such changes in society, then God will hold us accountable for every letter, every word, every paragraph that was put forth for the world to see that failed to raise the light of Jesus Christ.
What do you think? What is our responsibility as followers of Christ? What can all of us, regardless of beliefs, do to help reshape a broken culture?
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