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Just dropping by ... Tightrope walking

Yevet Tenney Published on 31 October 2013

I grew up with Lassie, My Friend Flicka, Bonanza and Leave it to Beaver. The silver screen was graced with Disney classics like Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Old Yeller.

Other classics like The Ten Commandments, It’s a Wonderful Life and Ben-Hur were brand-new. Most media of my time was a fountain of goodness where you could trust that you would learn truths and moral principles. The bad guy was always bad, and the good guys were always good.

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In fact, most of the time the hats would distinguish the roles of good and bad so there was no mistake. The good always triumphed, and you left the theater uplifted and glad to have spent your money and time.

Nowadays, looking for anything decent to watch, you are walking on a tightrope across an open sewer. There are some great movies and entertainment, but you have to be vigilant to make sure you do not pay for the lies and corruption laced through most of the media today.

Some think that watching a movie doesn’t have any effect on the mind. It is just an hour or two walking in a fantasy world.

You walk away and everything is fine, but I have to wonder how it shapes our vision of the world, which in turn shapes our vision of mankind and finally shapes the vision we hold of ourselves, especially if we have a steady diet of the same kinds of movies.

In effect, it is the old saying, “You are what you eat.” You become what you allow to play on the stage of your mind. The Bible says, “As a man thinketh in his heart so is he.” In other words, what you feed your mind will eventually shape your future.

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The daily news is a steady stream of negative input. We hear about the eventual wreck of the economy, the pending war and the corruption of the government. Valuable information? Perhaps, but a steady stream of it makes for doom-and-gloom conversations on every front.

We talk about it around the dinner table, we talk to our neighbors and our colleagues at work. We wallow in it at every turn.

I can’t help but wonder what it would be like if we spread some good news as readily as we do the bad. I suppose much of the news is true, but I wonder how much of it is shaped to make us react in a certain way.

Of course, I am not suggesting that we put our head in the sand, but I am suggesting we be vigilant in not allowing the sewer of the media, a steady stream before us, to shape our lives.

There is so much good to see and remember. We do have a choice. Our conversations can be uplifting and full of gratitude. What is there to be grateful for? We can be glad that we do not live in a Third World country where freedom is not even a choice.

We can be glad the sun is shining and we have eyes to see. A big dose of Pollyanna’s “The Glad Game” might be appropriate to take us away from the negative conversation starters that come from the news.

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The media does not have to be an integral part of our lives. We can turn it off. We can spend some time contemplating the wonders of real life. We can watch the sunrise in glorious splendor filling the sky with a panorama of color.

We can take a walk in the garden or the park and pay special attention to the flowers or the falling leaves. If it happens to be winter, we can bask in the sparkle of the new snow or be glad that we can sit in a warm building with central heating or beside a warm fire.

We can be glad to carry on a conversation with our children about the wonders of God’s creations. It is easy for them to catch our attitudes.

The news is not the only thing that gives us a dose of negative. Some movies are so laced with violence, profanity and destruction that we wonder if the world will survive. There is little difference between the good guys and the bad guys.

The good guy shoots just as many bullets as the bad guy. They are not content just to beat up the bad guy; they have to obliterate them and everything around them in a grandiose explosion.

The hero’s answer to every offense is violence. You don’t see many scenes where the hero tries to work things out with the Christian “turn the other cheek” method and worst of all, you don’t see the far-reaching consequences of the violence.

You don’t see the villain’s mother weep for the loss of her child. You don’t see the innocent shopkeepers struggle to pay for the damages caused by the explosion. You don’t see the families deprived of their family members. You just feel a sense of redemption when the good guy finally destroys the bad guy.

In our day, it isn’t just the bad guy who walks the path of violence and destruction. Women, who throughout history have been paragons of kindness and compassion, are now destructive machines of violence.

Of course, the hidden agenda is to say, “Women are just as strong as men. They are equal in every way.” Maybe they are, but where do children learn that women are nurturers? Where do they learn that kindness begins at the cradle? Certainly not from the movies!

That is not to say, men are not compassionate and kind and cannot fill that role. It is just that when everybody is violent, how can a child emulate the path of compassion? How will that child embrace Christian values?

“Come on, it is just a movie,” you say. Look around – movies are shaping the attitudes of our children. Listen to their conversations and the language they use. You can bet it comes from the media, not their parents. If they are defining themselves by what they see in the movies, it is no wonder we have so many problems in society.

Back in the ’60s and ’70s the media started making movies about sexual relationships before marriage. It was appalling back then. We were shocked that anyone would openly transgress the laws of God in such a fashion.

Nowadays it is uncommon for a movie to promote marriage before sex. No wonder our children are confused about family. No wonder they are confused about their sexual identity.

If parents aren’t vigilant, before a child goes to school, he has seen it all. He has watched murders, rapes, sexual conquests and a myriad of crime scenes. His innocence has been dipped in the sewer more times than days he is old.

How do we expect that child to face the world without a skewed vision of reality? Why should we be shocked when he starts acting out the scenes that have played so vividly before his eyes? No wonder we have so many mentally ill children and teens.

It is not fair for me to rave about all the bad and not look at the good. There are programs that seek to build and enlighten in a positive way. We just have to look for them and make sure our media choices are compatible with moral values.

If we care about what happens to our children and the world they will live in, we will be vigilant and willing to walk the tightrope across the sewer of the media to find those things that will build strong minds and hearts. We will follow Paul’s advice:

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

—Philippians 4:8

PD

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