Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Biblically correct vs. politically correct

Serious props go out to Miss California, Carrie Prejean, who stood up for Truth at the recent Miss USA pageant. When asked her position on same-sex “marriage” by celebrity blogger Perez Hilton, an open homosexual and one of the pageant’s judges, Prejean responded by saying, “…a marriage should be between a man and a woman”. Apparently, this cost her the crown, but won her the ire of Hilton who viciously attacked her on his website following the pageant. “If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first” (Jn 15:18).

With the media coming down on her like vultures (“wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will be” -Mt 24:28) since the pageant, Prejean has remained true to her self and her beliefs and has had some great lines:

“…am I trying to be politically correct, or do I want to be biblically correct? And I think that I want to be biblically correct.”

"I will be praying for (Hilton)… I feel sorry for him, I really do. I think he's angry, I think he's hurt. Everybody is entitled to their own opinion. He asked me specifically what my opinion was on that subject, and I gave him an honest answer."

Continuing with the theme of Jesus (and his followers) versus the world, here’s another comparison that was sent to me by a parishioner:

Cell phone vs... Bible

Ever wonder what would happen if we treated our Bible like we treat
our cell phone?

What if we carried it around in our purses or pockets?

What if we flipped through it several times a day?

What if we turned back to go get it if we forgot it?

What if we used it to receive messages from the text?

What if we treated it like we couldn't live without it?

What if we gave it to kids as gifts?

What if we used it when we traveled?

What if we used it in case of emergency?

This is something to make you go....hmm...where is my Bible?

Oh, and one more thing. Unlike our cell phone, we don't have to worry about our Bible being disconnected because Jesus already paid the bill…


At 11:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny thing- ever since I started Bible Study, I carry the Bible in my car. I'm usually out at some practice somewhere, so my reading is often done wherever I happen to be in order to complete it all (probably not what would be recommended, but it's the best I can do). However, I also make it a habit to look up the daily readings. Daiy Masses are harder for me to get to these days, and I like to, at the very least, read the daiy readings. I can't count the number of times, especially lately, that reading and often re-reading the Gospel readings help in in any particular moment.

Today's Gospel reminds me that all that sustains us comes from God- no other. Right now that is particulary meaningful to me in my life, and I've had amazing things that have happened recently to show me that.

At 1:58 PM, Blogger CynthiaBC said...

Speaking of pop culture, I thought the following article by Mary Elise Lowe might be of interest:

Reality TV
Is it a virtual sin to watch contestants struggle?

During a recent class at Augsburg College, Minneapolis, my students discussed reality TV shows. Some said they are merely entertainment — the contestants agree to participate and deserve whatever hardships they face. Others said the programs are demeaning, humiliating and exploit people for the sake of ratings and revenue.

Our discussion took an interesting turn when someone asked, “Is it ethical to watch these shows?” From one perspective, reality TV can be considered a harmless pastime. But from a Lutheran viewpoint, watching these programs could be seen as a violation of the eighth commandment: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

A multitude of reality shows exist — most are designed to raise tempers, threaten relationships and bring out the worst in people. Even less offensive shows such as Top Chef, The Biggest Loser and The Apprentice contain profanity, lying and scheming. Cameras in every room capture private conversations, and you only need to watch a few minutes to hear participants gossip and give false testimony about each other.

On some of the more explicit shows such as I Love Money, The Moment of Truth, Intervention or Tool Academy, contestants regularly commit the traditional sins of lying, cursing, lust, adultery and pride. The Moment of Truth contestants are connected to a lie detector and asked deeply personal questions about their sexual and financial histories while their families watch offstage. The goal is to humiliate contestants and their families on national TV.

Perhaps the most ethically questionable shows are those concerning addiction. Celebrity Rehab and Intervention explore an addict’s life before, during and after rehabilitation. Web sites for these shows encourage addicts to get treatment, but I fear many viewers watch only for entertainment.

Is it wrong to be entertained by the struggles of others? Is watching reality TV sinful?

On one hand the answer might be no. When I watch TV, I’m not lying, dishonoring my parents, stealing, committing adultery or taking God’s name in vain. On the other hand, Martin Luther’s answer might be yes. In his catechisms, he instructs Christians how to follow the Ten Commandments. But Luther doesn’t only explain what we shouldn’t do — he also tells us what we should do. His interpretation of the eighth commandment provides a lens that reveals how we might sin against God and the neighbor when we watch certain reality TV shows.

In his explanation of the eighth commandment in the Small Catechism, Luther writes: “We should fear and love God so that we do not betray, slander, or tell lies about our neighbor, but defend him, speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest way.”

When we take pleasure in the pain of others as they struggle to get sober, lose weight or find a spouse, we aren’t following the commandment in the spirit that Luther suggests. Surely this is a long way from speaking well of the neighbor and defending her.

This theme of care for the neighbor flows through all of Luther’s writings. In On the Freedom of a Christian, he wrote: “The Christian man is the most free lord of all, and subject to none; a Christian man is the most dutiful servant of all, and subject to every one.”

Obviously we shouldn’t lie about our neighbors, but Luther sets an even higher standard for Christians. We are to defend and care for the honor and reputation of our neighbor—even if he is a TV contestant. He writes: “God does not want our neighbor deprived of their reputation, honor, and character anymore than of their money or possessions” (Large Catechism).

Sadly, many reality shows are specifically designed to shame and embarrass contestants. The Biggest LoserTool Academy and Temptation Island dishonor contestants by exposing infidelity. Watching someone commit adultery or get voted off a show for being overweight doesn’t defend the honor and reputation of the neighbor.

Luther also helps us understand how we might violate the eighth commandment when we judge the contestants and gossip about them.

He writes: “Learning a bit of gossip about someone else, they spread it into every corner … delighting in the chance to stir up someone else’s dirt like pigs that roll in manure …. This is nothing else than usurping God’s judgment” (Large Catechism). Luther challenges us to see that all judgment — even about TV contestants — is reserved for God alone.

Take a different view

Reality TV requires contestants who are addicts, athletically challenged, overweight and unfaithful. But Luther reminds us not to view these neighbors the way the world, or the networks, sees them. The losing contestants are those most in need of our care and compassion.

Luther writes: “In our relations with one another all of us should veil whatever is dishonorable and weak in our neighbors, and do whatever we can to serve, assist, and promote[s] their good name .... We should prevent everything that may contribute to their disgrace” (Large Catechism).

Following the eighth commandment means more than just telling the truth about our neighbor. We should not celebrate their shortcomings or gossip about them. The best way to care for our neighbor and preserve their dignity might just be to change the channel.

At 2:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also appreciate the courage Ms. Prejean showed in stating her beliefs and not being afraid to witness for the Lord.

Having said that, we are also to avoid the near occasion of sin. I may be way off base, but it seems to me that beauty pageants in themselves are a tribute to vanity, and can lead to extreme sexual liberality. Parading oneself in a skimpy outfit before a national audience is hardly, in my humble opinion, what a Christian should be doing.

When one walks into the lion's den, don't be shocked when he eats you. That's what happened. Ms. Prejean walked into the lion's den, that inequity which is the entertainment media and Hollywood... and they ate her...

At 2:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What do I say to my high school teenager that is disgusted with the actions of her, as she says, "so called Catholic high school?"

1. A seventeen year old student at her school became pregnant and informed the administration that she was going to keep the child. She has the support of both her and his family. She is a good student with no discipline record. The administration strongly suggested she leave the school. The young lady said she was told to leave.

2. A senior at the same high school has a very strong, well rounded application for college. She knows which college she wants to attend, and submited all the required documents that she was responsible for before the deadline. The only outstanding issue was her final fall semester transcript. Per school policy, a transcript will not be mailed if there is an outstanding financial obligation.

The family is experiencing financial problems. The student's outstanding tuition bill was paid in small increments, but it was not paid in full until after the college's application deadline date. The student was accepted to all the colleges to which she applied, except for one, the one she really wanted to attend. She was told that she met the admission criteria, but the university could not accept her with an incomplete application. The university explained that they received plenty of completed applications from strong candidates whose families were also facing financial hardships. Although this senior knew she was going to college, she was heartbroken.

The only thought I have been able to offer my daughter is that one high school's actions do not speak for the actions or beliefs of the entire Church. I'm open to other suggestions and insight. I'll be honest; I'm both happy and sad that my daughter will finish her 12years of Catholic education having experienced the aforementioned scenarios. Despite my daughter's disappointment or frustration with the administration's decisions, I do think she has had a great education and truly understands the definition and value of trying to live a virtuous life. I also think she understands and can identify hypocrisy. I pray she receives her diploma with pride and determination to stand up for what is right, not what is easy and popular.

At 3:55 PM, Anonymous Katherine said...

I also carry my Bible in my car, from Bible Study. Lately it's been a big help, when I've been down.

I think Miss California was very respectful when she answered that question, and Perez Hilton should not be offended when he was looking for an honest answer. She could have made up what he wanted to hear, I suppose, but she stayed true to herself and God. She is someone that young women can look up to.

At 8:44 AM, Anonymous mindy said...

I do find it a sad commentary that we seem so voyeuristic, especially when it comes to others' pain. If all were completely honest with ourselves, I think we'd admit to a time when we'd heard some bit of gossip about someone and felt a little better about ourselves that that person wasn't us (I'm distinguishing between the times we are grateful that we don't have those problems).

Our society is one that tends to measure success directly against that success/failure of another, but that's not what success is about. We each have our own path, will have our own way and will have our own struggles, and how we handle them is the true measure of our success.

I appreciated you and your students’ viewpoints. Thanks for sharing them.

At 8:50 AM, Anonymous mindy said...

To Anon 2:52

“I'll be honest; I'm both happy and sad that my daughter will finish her 12years of Catholic education having experienced the aforementioned scenarios.”

What a great statement. I think your daughter’s attitude speaks a lot about her character. As a mother, were I you, I think I’d feel- “job well done.”

At 9:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for your kind words Mindy. I think I'll take a deep breath, glance upwards, feel and perhaps say outloud to myself; "Job well done. Thanks God." It is His work, not mine. I loose track of this sometimes.

At 10:45 AM, Blogger CynthiaBC said...

mindy, the article was written by Mary Elise Lowe, a professor at Augsburg College, not by me. I only cut-and-pasted the text.

At 12:36 PM, Blogger fran said...

2:52 Anon,

Let me begin by saying that every story has two sides. In the scenario you present we only know the student's side. However...

As a volunteer in a crisis pregnancy center, it was a bit disheartening to read the commentary about the 17 yr old student at your daughter's high school. To me, the situation could have been a valuable teaching and learning experience for the student body. Of course both student and family would have to amenable to this. Asking a pregnant student to leave her school seems so old-fashioned and not terribly supportive on the part of the school. And might I add this - What of the young man, who is the father of this child? Will he, too, be asked to leave the school? I think we all know the answer to that question.

That being said, I have never worked in an administrative capacity, anywhere, but I can also see how such a circumstance could pose some problems for the school. Bottom line, though there could certainly have been a better approach.

On the topic of doing what is right, I am sure most are aware, by now, that the former US ambassador to the Vatican, Mary Ann Glendon, has declined Notre Dame's Laetre Medal.

From today's op-ed by Kathleen Parker, WPost:

"Glendon - a Harvard University law professor and respected author on bioethics and human rights - rejected the honor in part because Barack Obama was invited to be commencement speaker and to receive an honorary degree."

"In a letter to Notre Dame's president, the Rev. John I Jenkins, Glendon wrote of her dismay that Obama was to receive the degree in disregard of the US bishops' position that Catholic institutions '" should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles.'"

When I learned of Glendon's decison, earlier this week, I thought, "Now if only the president would decline the invitation extended him." Some would call this line of thinking naive, unrealistic, or politically motivated. I am grateful for Ms. Parker's closing thoughts.

"Obama might consider following Glendon's lead. Although he supports choice, the president also recognizes the moral complexity of those decisions. Out of respect for pro-life Catholics and their beloved institution, he should politely bow out."

At 12:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Off topic-

I was able to go to Mass this morning and immediately then go to a AA mtg (they’re in the same location). A speaker at the meeting picks a topic and the topic directly related to the Gospel (funny how that works!). The topic was our relationship with God and how we grow it. The words rang in my head “I am the bread of life.” The life He offers (through Him) is so rich and abundant- he promises that.

Yesterday, the Gospel told us that they asked for a sign of this. I thought, “Did they just forget the other miracles?” And I realize that’s where I’ve been for a long time- looking for “signs.” I also am beginning to understand the hunger about which Jesus was speaking- lasting sustenance.

I come to Mass to be “fed.” Living out that gift will require faith that includes experiencing and witnessing suffering. Living my faith, carrying my cross- however one wants to look at it, is something I no longer look at as a burden but an opportunity to have all that I will need. I know that sounds kind of strange. There were times when I thought very differently- almost strangled by my faith, like I could never “live up” to it. But the conversation I heard today inspired me in hearing about all the ways people step up to the call to be “fed.” It was a good morning.

At 10:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This might sound hokey, but after reading this I did a search online for a company that offers text messages of Bible quotes. I just figure if I pick up my cell phone more times during a day than I would a bible, I might as well bring a little faith into it.

I just did it, so I can't say whether I love it or not yet. This is the link if anyone is intereted: http://www.mfaith.com


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