If you feel a need to know all that’s going on in the world around you, it’s important to understand how little the media account may actually represent reality. Jonathon Van Maren makes that point in his article “Malcolm Muggeridge on Christ and the Media”:
In his slim 1977 volume Christ and the Media, Malcolm Muggeridge describes a scene instantly recognizable to anyone familiar with political protest in our TV age. He was in Washington, D.C. working as a correspondent and came across a group of protestors moping about, holding slackened signs, chatting. Bored police were also present. What were they waiting for? The cameras, as it turned out. Once they showed up – action! “Whereupon placards were lifted, slogans shouted, fists clenched; a few demonstrators were arrested and pitched into the police van, and a few cops kicked until, ‘Cut!’” Moments later, the streets were again silent. On TV that evening, it all looked very impressive. “On the television screen,” revolutionary Jerry Rubin once observed, “news is not so much reported as created.”
Reasons to read
“A man who has lived in many places is not likely to be deceived by the local errors of his native village; the scholar has lived in many times and is therefore in some degree immune from the great cataract of nonsense that pours from the press and the microphone of his own age.”
– C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
If Dad told only dinosaur jokes
As you might expect with dinosaur jokes, all of these are oldies. And some of them are even goodies.
What do you call a dinosaur that never gives up? Try-try-try-ceratops
What dinosaur makes a good police officer? Tricera-cops.
What did the dinosaur call her blouse shop? Try Sarah’s Tops.
Why don’t dinosaurs drive cars? Too many Tyrannosaurus wrecks.
What do you call a T-rex in a cowboy hat? Tyrannosaurus Tex
How do you invite a dinosaur to a cafe? “Tea, Rex?”
Where does the T-rex spend its money? At a dino-store
What do you call a sleeping T-rex? A dino-snore
What do you get when a dinosaur scores a touchdown? A dino-score
What did the dinosaur use to build his house? A dino-saw
Why did the dinosaur wear a bandage? It had a dino-sore
SOURCE: Charles Keller’s Colossal Fossils: Dinosaur Riddles, and the world wide web
A need for the outrageous?
There’s a fellow I read occasionally because he has some unique insights into our culture. But I rarely quote him, because the way he talks is generally outside the bounds of what even Christians find acceptable. I’m not talking about truly offensive speech, but more that he’ll call spades spades right when everyone else is avoiding mention of dirt-moving equipment altogether. He explained:
“…I personally decided to say things that are outside the Overton Window, knowing that this came with risks. My bet was that the good I could do was likely to outweigh the possible negative outcomes. You might make similar choices. The idea then is not to live in fear, but to be smartly and strategically courageous.”
The “Overton Window” is a term to describe the range (window) of acceptable discourse – what makes for polite conversation. And this Window can be shifted. For example, publicly stating that homosexuality is sinful fell inside this Window when I was kid, but it doesn’t anymore. Why did things shift? Because some on the outside were willing to publicly state outrageous things like “homosexuality is good!” By repeatedly making these “out of bounds” statements they normalized the thought, and started pulling the Window in their direction. The eventual result was that what they were saying wasn’t viewed as outrageous any more.
This Christian writer has taken that lesson, and decided to state his positions baldly, even when they fall well outside the Overton Window. He’s doing so in an attempt to pull that Window back where it belongs. The problem with his approach is that he’ll sometimes sound rude and crude, even to the Christians who agree with him.
I’ve had a different approach, generally trying to make my case in as winsome a manner as possible. I want to frame what are becoming outrageous positions – that euthanasia is murder, the unborn are as valuable as you and me, etc. – as if they actually fall within the Overton Window, as they obviously should.
But the problem with my approach is that no matter how reasonably I might present something today, unless God brings our country to repentance, it’s only a matter of time (only a matter of weeks?) before what was once acceptable is deemed bigoted. And then I’ll either have to be okay with being outrageous, or I’ll have to take back what I’d previously said.
So whose approach is better? Well, when saying “what is a woman?” will get you in trouble, then the time might be now for all of us to get comfortable with being outrageous.
Don’t go it alone
“In more than a decade of pastoral ministry, I’ve never met a Christian who was healthier, more mature, and more active in ministry by being apart from the church. But I have found the opposite to be invariably true. The weakest Christians are those least connected to the body. And the less involved you are, the more disconnected those following you will be. The man who attempts Christianity without the church shoots himself in the foot, shoots his children in the leg, and shoots his grandchildren in the heart.”
— Kevin DeYoung, The Hole in our Holiness
A turn of a phrase
“Paraprosdokians” take a common figure of speech and put a twist on the ending. Comedian Groucho Marx (“I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn’t it”) was a master, but the authorship of the very best examples is hard to track down. And what makes the very best good too, is that they are in fact true, the proof being in how they parallel Scripture.
- Don’t argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience. (Prov. 26:4) – Mark Twain?
- When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water. (Prov. 15:1) – unknown
- Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak. (Prov. 17:28) – attributed, probably incorrectly, to Einstein
- Truth is hate to those who hate truth. (Prov. 9:7-8) – unknown
The Andy Griffith Show on children “choosing” their gender
In a Nov. 13, 1961 episode of The Andy Griffith Show titled “Opie’s Hobo Friend,” Sheriff Andy Taylor is concerned with the influence a hobo is having on his son. So he decides to have a talk with the man, David Browne. Browne wonders why the boy, Opie, can’t just figure things out on his own.
BROWNE: “Who’s to say that the boy would be happier your way than mine. Why not let him decide?”
SHERIFF TAYLOR: “Nah, I’m afraid it don’t work that way. You can’t let a young’un decide for himself. He’ll grab at the first flashy thing with shiny ribbons on it. Then, when he finds out there’s a hook in it, it’s too late. Wrong ideas come packaged with so much glitter that it’s hard to convince ‘em that other things might be better in the long run. All a parent can do is say ‘wait’ and ‘trust me’ and try to keep temptation away.”
I almost titled this, “More sense in the 60s” but realized this wasn’t an example of things being better and people being smarter back in the day. Instead, it was the opposite, showing that they were wrestling with similar problems then too. Maybe that’s one reason why Solomon warns us “Do not say, ‘Why were the old days better than these?’ For it is not wise to ask such questions” (Eccl. 7:10). We won’t appreciate the blessings of today, nor the courage of our parents, if we keep imagining that yesteryear was so much better.
Gary North on breaking your TV habit
Gary North (1942-2022) was a Christian economist and such a prolific writer he must have followed the advice he offers here and entirely kicked his TV habit.
“Put a piggy bank next to the couch where you watch TV. Every time you watch a one-hour show, put $2 into the piggy bank. If someone else watches, and you’re a free rider, have that person put in $2. Then break the piggy bank – or at least empty it – in the last week of December. Put the money in your bank account. Then write a check for this amount. Send it to a charity. In short, put a price on your time. Pay the price. Economics teaches: ‘When the price rises, less is demanded.’ You will cut your TV habit by 50%. If not, make it $3.”
Source: Gary North’s Tip of the Week, January 3, 2015