Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Pearl Harbor Day: America at war, then and now

December 7 is a day of great infamy, treachery, tragedy. It also provides a benchmark in assessing America's cultural slide.

Though admittedly ancient (50), I'm not old enough to have experienced the attack on Pearl Harbor, nor World War II. But I am old enough to be able to mark one stark point of cultural difference, simply from growing up in the 50's and 60's.

That point of chasmic disconnect: Hollywood, and with it, the "mainstream" media (which, at the time, was pretty much the only-stream media).

As I grew up in the 50's and 60's, I saw endless movies with A-list actors, all supportive of the war effort and our troops. Today we regard many of them as classics. Cartoons and comic books even featured the conflict. Heck, when I was a kid, though he was long dead, we still derided Hitler and our enemies in little songs, poems, ditties, jokes.

All branches of the media were involved in our national effort: actors, singers, writers, directors, reporters, essayists, screenwriters.

Actors both American and British signed up voluntarily in the military, and several served with great distinction. Those who couldn't, did something to entertain the troops, encourage them, or otherwise support the war effort.

Hollywood served America and the world by uniting the nation in (1) identifying the enemy, and (2) focusing on working hard, together, for victory.

That was then. What about now?

Take this one-question test: name the ten best movies produced since 9/11 depicting that event, or positively featuring some aspect of the Global War on Terror.

Can't name ten? Then name five. Three? Two?


How about cartoons, TV shows, comic books? To say it's "not easy" would be litotes.

I doubt you need me to recite the dreary dishonor-roll of leading figures who, so far from uniting and focusing the country, have done their damnedest to fragment and demoralize us. Actors, singers, screenwriters, directors, newsreaders, editorialists, columnists, cartoonists, comic-book artists -- the vast majority are using their high profile to fracture American unity, corrode American resolve, and redirect our focus from our national enemies to internal targets.

Given the Hollywood philosophy that any publicity is good publicity, I'll name no names. You know them. They have made themselves into The Usual Suspects.

When I was discussing this sad turn of affairs with local talk show host Eric Hogue -- about the only good thing Sacramento media have going -- he asked me "Why?" Why have the media become so corrupted? It was a great question, a huge question, and it momentarily stopped me dead. I will now try to phrase my answer better than I did on the air.

At the heart of it, "Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law" (Proverbs 29:18). Since "the people" is singular/collective in Hebrew, I take "he" in the second stich as having the same referent -- i.e. the people who keep the law.

A corresponding thought is found in Proverbs 14:34 -- "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people." This is by design a general principle, applicable in any political system. Ask Sodom. Ask Babylon. Ask Assyria. Ask Rome.

"Back in the day," respect for the Bible itself, and for Biblical morality, was pretty much an American default-setting. As a pagan American kid in a public grammar school, I sang Christmas carols about Jesus. Comic strips would respectfully doff the hat at the birth of Christ, editorials would mention Him with reverence. The apostasy at work in the pulpits had not yet metastasized to the pews, nor out into the streets. There was the remnant of a national consensus on core values, inherited from the Biblical worldview on which the Founding Fathers established our nation.

But already the axe of moral relativism and what Schaeffer called "pan-everythingism," was hacking away at the branch on which America sat. Today their bastard stepchild, post-modernism, has produced a morally, spiritually, and intellectually bankrupt society. Not only can we no longer identify what is good and what is evil, but we no longer even accept the categories. My good may be your evil; your truth, my lie. Murderers of civilian men, women, and children may be brave warriors, if one looks at it a certain way. And on and on the dizzying descent goes.

I wish I could say that the pulpits of "evangelicalism" were fighting this trend. I wish that I could tell you that an army of Luthers, Calvins and Knoxes were applying the eternal, transcendent truths of God's Word to American society, training believers to think the Lord's thoughts after Him (Matthew 28:18-20; John 8:31-32).

But you'd know I was lying.

As I argued in a previous essay, a given society depends on the input of the godly remnant in the citizenry. So yes, systemic collapse of American culture between the 1940's and the 2000's is indeed an indictment of the ascendant anti-God glitterati.

But it is an even more blistering indictment of the professing church, as well.

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