This Week in Pop Culture: Christians, Media, Miley & Good 'Ol Phil
This week, reality TV star and millionaire Phil Robertson was suspended indefinitely by A&E (the network on which the show Duck Dynasty is broadcasted) due to his comments made on the topic of same sex attraction based on a mix of biblical conviction and personal opinions. And the world is in an uproar for various reasons.
I read the GQ article and the reality is…the guy says some stuff that makes sense and then some. Talking about the logic between male and female anatomy isn’t dinner table talk, pulpit talk…not even locker room talk. Talking about the “Happy slaves who never sang the blues” while picking cotton (something that not many Christians are talking about) wasn’t cool nor was comparing homosexuality as a gateway drug to bestiality and more. Sure, they are biblical terms but to the person who is in a more committed relationship with their partner than the thrice divorced Christian, that is a slap to the face. So here are some choice thoughts and observations based on this week’s pop culture events…
1 – A&E had to know this would happen one day. Deadline writes, “A&E shocked to learn Bible-thumping Duck Dynasty star talks like Bible thumper.” In making the show, the men of DD said one of the things that needed to be highlighted was their faith and while we can assume they’ve edited much of Phil’s thoughts to protect their brand, the fact that this didn’t happen during season 1 of DD is quite something.
2 – #prayingfortherobinsons is dumb – These guys are millionaires. If they are off A&E, they’ll land somewhere else who supports their views and tolerates letters from GLAAD, the NAACP and more. What are we praying for when we #prayfortherobinsons? Their platform? They are now writing books that will sell to a very hungry base. The internet is HUGE for online shows (see Jerry Seinfeld for example) and another channel will take them if A&E says no. Trust me, they’re blessed, bad press or not. I get the solidarity and I get the sentiment, but it’s kinda silly. It’s like cheering for one team and not the other simply because one guy on the team is a Christian, even though he is playing your FAVORITE TEAM! Dude is fine and will be fine.
Meanwhile we gotta a car in the garage again. Expensive, son.
(Ed Note: Just had a great chat with a friend whose words lead me to add this note - I'm not saying don't pray for Phil and his family. This is a rough time for them. Money doesn't equate joy. Pray for that and pray for them. But let's not be praying because his free speech is violated, he's the knight against homosexuals, because he lost his show or because you have the same stances. Let's not make praying for him about us and our agenda. In that way, we're no different than those using his words to defame him.)
3 – The issue of homosexuality is still hard for Christians to talk about. Christians either run to the side of grace and acceptance or on family values and ideologies. Support A&E or boycott A&E. There are so many opinions and sides (all based on the Bible, by the way, which makes it all the more murky) and in the meantime, people who should accepted in the walls of the church may feel discriminated against. Besides, we do the inviting, Jesus does the changing…right?
4 – Free Speech works both ways. We can’t hate on A&E for not letting Phil say what he wants but then get mad at a show for making fun of Jesus, Christians, etc. And on top of that, where are we when good Muslims are being hated on and lumped into looking like terrorists on TV shows. Shouldn’t that racism bug us, who are supposed to stand for those who are being subjected to harsh treatments?
Speaking of which…
5 – We are a people of leverage, which is really bad. More annoying than the Phil stuff, at least to me, are the articles/posts/pictures/hashtags/tweets reminding us of hatred in countries, enslavements, the 99% and more. Why do I think this? Because, in my opinion, the majority of us who have that on our posts and such don’t have it there regularly. Now we’re using this story to dovetail us into other ones, to hopefully guilt one side of the equation to the other (so I guess I’m doing the reverse affect???). What we normally have promoted via social media instead are Bible verses, quotes from books, pictures of friends and song lyrics by Avalon. We are using one story or medium to leverage another story…just like Phil did (interview in a HUGE mail publication to leverage his views on faith). If we really care about these issues, would they not be on our pages more often? Wouldn't they be in our prayers all the time? Our tweets? I mean there are so many needs (Watch this video! Worth the 6 mins!!)...
6 – We can’t simply say anything because “That’s what the Bible says”. The same Bible that Phil quotes is also used by prominent Christians to deny women the rights to speak and teach. The same Bible is used by some to discriminate against other races or classes. The same Bible is used for various evils hidden behind the statement “The Bible says…” And where it can work FOR in some instances, it can also work AGAINST just as fast. (Take a look at this link with Andy Stanley’s thoughts on the matter for clearer understanding.)
The same Bible that Phil used to talk about homosexuality talks about taming our tongue (James 3) and how hard that is. The writer of the GQ article played this very shrewdly; just let him talk and he’ll say something. And BOY he did. But it’s not his surroundings or his upbringing that forced him to say that. It was his choice as he spoke. We all have to take account for our words and actions. The old adage of Flip Wilson’s “The devil (or my town/my upbringing/my Jesus) made me do it” doesn’t work here.
Like many, I don’t think Phil Robinson hates anyone. I think he cares that everyone who doesn’t know Jesus meet Jesus and are transformed by him as he was (see the cool way he asks the guy writing the GQ article about coming to faith). I just think he kept on talking and talking and talking…and from there he said what he said and now he’s in a pop culture tug-of-war. I’m sure he doesn’t regret it but sees where he may have driven on the sidewalk a bit rather than the road.
And this will pass. Weeks from now, it’ll be something else and this blog will be old and outdated. And we’ll forget about this because that’s what we do. The Olympics will come. Community is back on the air. People will win Oscars. March Madness. We’ll celebrate Jesus’ death and resurrection. Pictures will be instagrammed. Phil and his family will still be moguls. Uncle Si will still make people laugh somehow. A&E will make way for another channel to house this show. And this story will be a sermon illustration in some churches until the next pop culture moment hits us like a wrecking ball.
…and in the midst of this, no one cares about the REAL victims…
Did you know that millions of ducks die due to hunters who don’t care about wildlife? Think about it.
#prayfortheducks #Savethemallard #flyingV