I never set out to be radical or fringe...I shop at J. Crew, enjoy Real Simple magazine and drive a gas-guzzling SUV. Yet, slowly but surely I find myself pulling out of the mainstream. I don't have a grand plan to move out to a prairie and join a militia, I am just finding myself in a different place--step by step.
I think it started in college when I gave up certain fashion/lifestyle magazines. I realized when I read them I felt like a freak for valuing sexual purity. Reading their columns made me feel like something was wrong with me for pursuing godliness and that every other female in their late teens-to thirties was living a wild, free, more evolved life of sexual conquest and adventure.
When my children came along I gave up on radio and television news. There was too much unpredictability in what the little eyes and ears in my care might see or hear via lyrics, news reports or even interviews.
A couple of years ago I decided to walk away from my 'harmless' vice of celebrity gossip. It was such escapism for me. I confess (with embarrassment) I have fallen off this wagon more than once. If I allow myself to forget that these celebrities are real people, I can be quite entertained by the ridiculousness of their antics. Trouble is, they ARE real people. God is faithful to remind me of that and I give it up again. Here's hoping this time is the last. (Phillippians 4:8)
This Summer we have been without television. It was not something we set out to do or a statement we intended to make. Our satellite was mistakenly disconnected during all of the upheaval of our yard. By the time it was relatively safe to reconnect, it had been weeks since we had last had service. We realized we could live without it.
An interesting thing has happened through the course of my somewhat unintentional unplugging from pop culture--my perspective has shifted. What I was once numb to is now striking in its offensiveness. When I am somewhere with a television now, it is as if I am seeing with new eyes. It has become much harder to swallow things now that seemed normal just three months ago.
I cannot help but think about when I gave up sweet tea. When I did finally return to it, it was too sweet for my palate. The absence of that flavor allowed my taste to change a bit. After a bit of a break, it wasn't as I remembered it. I hadn't really considered that the same could be true of pop culture. It seems, however, that I was indeed desensitized to a lot of things as a result of my immersion in them. After a little time and distance, I am truly losing my taste for pop culture.
I admit that with mixed emotions. There are a few programs that (for better or for worse) I have really enjoyed...Glee, Brothers and Sisters, Dateline, Grey's Anatomy, American Idol.
I hope the point of this rambling post is not lost. I don't think television is bad. Nor do I think we can (or should) bury ourselves in a bunker and wait for Jesus to return. I simply think it is amazing what a difference it makes in our appetite for the things of the world when we chose to push ourselves away from the table for just a bit.
Lest I eat my words later, I am not at a place where I feel led to commit that I'll never return to these things...just a commentary. :-)
I have been praying through the whole "in it not of it" balancing act this week--asking God how to be salt and light. I don't want to be John the Baptist, living in the wilderness. Yet, I want to be different in a way that draws people to the cross.
Yesterday afternoon I picked up a book that seems to be speaking right to where God has me. I am only 30 pages in--too soon for a recommendation or review--but this quote struck me.
"Christians make a difference in this world by being different from this world; they don't make a difference by being the same. This is critically important, because in our trend-chasing world it is tempting for Christians to slowly lose their distinctiveness by accommodating to culture. But by trying so hard to fit in, many Christians risk having nothing distinctive to say..." Tullian Tchividjian, Unfashionable
I am not sure what this will all mean as I continue to wrestle...especially as I consider verses like John 17:15: "My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one." or John 17:18 "As you have sent me (Jesus) into the world, so I have sent them into the world."
It seems to all come back to balance. Living here and loving the people without loving the world's ways. (I John 2:15-17)
"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:13-16 NIV