Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Bieber and beyond...

Much to the chagrin of a few people who now may disown me, I went to see Justin Bieber's movie yesterday (in 3D no less). And I actually kinda liked it! Ok don't judge me yet, I do have a few thoughts from the movie that somewhat redeem myself and my manhood.

It all stated when I opened my mouth and started bashing Bieber. I wasn't that hard on him per se, I just liked to tease the countless girls who swooned over him. One of those girls said that I needed to see the movie before I said any more. To be fair, I do tell them they should watch football, baseball, golf, etc.,  before they dismiss one of my obsessions... So as the story goes I went to see Never Say Never. Well I appreciated the invite and I don't plan on actually bashing Bieber in this blog. The movie actually inspired me to blog about an issue way beyond Bieber.

Almost anyone can be produced to be likable and popular. With the right people around to write your lines, coach you, dress you, and give you an image - just about anyone can do well. But Bieber didn't come across in the movie as produced. Yes he had a group of people helping him, but on his own this guy seems to be full of charisma with plenty of natural ability and talent. He comes across as authentic and at this point in his life, morally stable. I do have two observations as a result of this movie that relate to all of us:
#1 Justin Bieber is not worthy of receiving the attention and glory that is being given to him. I was blown away by how the movie sneakily glorified him, as if his being born with this talent and look were his choice or the result of his hard work. Hundreds of thousands of teenager girls are missing that point. Their longings to be captivated by the mystery and charisma, the beauty, the effortless talent - those are real longings. But Bieber is only a reflection of the One who gave him those qualities. Humanity is made in God's image (Gen. 1:27), all glory or boasting is only due to God (Jer. 9:23-24; 1 Cor. 1:26-31), and ultimately everything is from, to, and through God (Rom. 11:36; Col. 1:16).

#2 Beyond Bieber, we all glorify someone/something else at times. When I was watching the movie I thought to myself if I was as obsessed with or gave glory to something in my life as much as these girls do so with Bieber. As a pastor, I've caught myself glorifying Christian celebrities at times.  We don't have room to glorify another as a Jesus follower. That is sin and it is dangerous ground to walk on. All of us need to evaluate who is most celebrated and sought after in our lives. If it is not God, well we have some soul-searching to do.

My conclusion is this: I don't see anything wrong with liking Bieber. But as a Christian, you should pay attention to the fact that he doesn't get up on stage in all humility and admit all the credit for his talent goes to God. And pay attention to what you obsess over - if God is not your obsession, but His creation is instead, then these words may apply:

" They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised."  Romans 1:25

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Mindless Media Consumption...

So I'll be the first to admit there have been plenty of times I've consumed various media without thinking about what it is I am taking in. Thanks to those I admire when it comes media consumption, I've been challenged to do more thinking when it comes to what I allow before my senses. Walt Mueller, who is one of my favorite cultural evaluators when it comes to youth culture and Brian Godowa, who is a writer, director, and movie evaluator, are two of those who I highly recommend looking into. Much of what I've come to understand I owe to them. Check out their material if your interested beyond my blog. If not, well I want to give credit to where my mind has been.

So a recent conversation with a student has prompted me to write on this topic. It actually started months ago when I picked up Godowa's book "Hollywood Worldviews" and started to wrestle with the convictions over my own media consumption. You won't hear from me that "media is bad" and that we should avoid it at all costs. But here's what I do think: mindlessly consuming media is extremely dangerous. I believe that as a Jesus-follower, we should constantly be comparing the messages we hear in media to the Truth we profess to follow.

Its just entertainment right? Stop criticizing it, it really doesn't affect me.... I still can follow Jesus and the example of (fill in the blank with any entertainer).  Actually the word "entertainment" means an activity in which people amuse themselves during their leisure time. The word "amuse" means to not think. Entertainment by definition is the practice of checking your brain at the door.

So what is wrong with a little fun? Who cares if I don't think when I watch or listen? It is dangerous because you are letting someone tell you what to believe. Every movie, book, song, etc., teaches us some kind of worldview. Most of us don't realize it, but there are subtle messages being taught constantly. Just watch a movie or show and ask yourself what the "moral of the story is." Most action movies tell us violence solves problems. Romances make us think sex & love satisfies the soul and is life's greatest good. Too many songs teach us how to relate to the opposite sex... in rather crude ways. When you think about what your taking in, you start to realize the impact this may be having on your soul.

So should I avoid all media and live in a cave? Is it wrong to, lets say, enjoy Justin Bieber's new movie? No, not at all. In fact I will be the first to tell you that we should consume media! But please, don't do so without a critical eye, without thinking about what you are taking in, and without having spent considerably more time exposing yourself to the truth of Jesus. Didn't Paul say that he considered everything garbage compared to knowing Jesus? And that his goal was to know Christ because it is Christ whom he intends to become like (Philippians 3:7-11).

We demolish arguments and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to obey Christ
                                                                                                                 2 Corinthians 10:5

The spiritual person, however, can evaluate everything, yet he himself cannot be evaluated by anyone.
who has known the Lord’s mind, that he may instruct Him?
But we have the mind of Christ
                                                                                                              1 Corinthians 2:15-16