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America's Culture War: Government and God

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Hollywood is UnAmerican

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

The entertainment industry is a multi-billion dollar business. It would be difficult to measure the impact on society of the seemingly limitless forms of entertainment. More Americans voted in the 2009 American Idol contest than have voted for any U.S. President (Bella, 2009; “2008 Official…,” 2009). The time and money spent on making, marketing, and viewing movies and television programs is staggering. Prior to the baby boomer generation, forms of amusement in American society were tempered and significantly curtailed—by design. The WW2 generation spent very little time and money on diversion, recreation, and “playing.” And it wasn’t just that they did not have the financial resources; they believed that their time and money were better spent on more meaningful, worthwhile pursuits. But with the arrival of the “party generation” (and the two generations since), devotion to amusement and entertainment has escalated, and that devotion now literally dominates life in America.

Hollywood did not exist prior to the 20th century. Its influence on American civilization over the last century has been catastrophic. The invention of the camera, cinema, television, and the multitude of electronic formats now available have significantly transformed daily living. These inventions, though harmless in themselves, have provided citizens with the means of entertainment unparalleled in human history. What’s more, the influence of Hollywood and the entertainment industry has so encroached on moral and spiritual sensibilities that political leaders, news organizations, and even church leaders routinely incorporate into their roles homage to Hollywood personalities and entertainers.

The Bible plainly teaches that, while some diversion is appropriate, the obsession with pleasure and frivolous amusement that has come to dominate many Americans is sinful and destructive to spiritual health and mental sobriety (1 Timothy 5:6; 2 Timothy 3:4; Titus 3:3; James 4:1-3; 5:5; 2 Peter 2:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11). Since the Founders of America were so whetted to the Christian religion and familiar with their Bibles, they were well aware of the harmful effects of entertainment in general, and the acting profession in particular, on efforts to preserve the American way of life. So much so that the Continental Congress considered the following two resolutions on October 12, 1778:

Whereas true religion and good morals are the only solid foundations of public liberty and happiness:

Resolved, That it be, and it is hereby earnestly recommended to the several states, to take the most effectual measures for the encouragement thereof, and for the suppressing of theatrical entertainments, horse racing, gaming, and such other diversions as are productive of idleness, dissipation, and a general depravity of principles and manners.

Resolved, That all officers in the army of the United States, be, and hereby are strictly enjoined to see that the good and wholesome rules provided for the discountenancing of prophaneness and vice, and the preservation of morals among the soldiers, are duly and punctually observed (Journals of…, 12:1001, emp. added).

Four days later (Friday, October 16, 1778), Congress considered a resolution that was intended to exclude from public office those who participated in the entertainment industry:

Whereas frequenting play houses and theatrical entertainments has a fatal tendency to divert the minds of the people from a due attention to the means necessary for the defence of their country, and the preservation of their liberties:

Resolved, That any person holding an office under the United States, who shall act, promote, encourage or attend such plays, shall be deemed unworthy to hold such office, and shall be accordingly dismissed (Journals of…, 12:1018, emp. added).

Most Americans would probably laugh out loud upon reading these statements. They would consider such thinking archaic, old-fashioned, ludicrous, and outright wrong. They see no danger to national security when the propensity for entertainment characterizes those we trust to protect and govern us. They certainly see no connection between the widespread devotion to frivolous entertainment within the general population, and the resulting “idleness, dissipation, and a general depravity of principles and manners.”

How does one convince such people otherwise? The only way to do so is to nurture their spirit with the profound words of Jesus Christ and the spiritual nourishment available from the Bible. If they will not expose their minds to the uplifting, spiritually enriching Word of God, they are doomed to develop a degenerate, depraved mind that pursues pleasure. Listen carefully to the observation issued by the Holy Spirit to the Ephesians:

This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:17-24, emp. added).

What better description of an increasing number of Americans? And what will be the outcome for the nation? According to the Founders, Americans will be unable to defend their country and preserve their liberties. May God enable us to renew our minds (Romans 12:2). May we be “lovers of God” rather than “lovers of pleasure” (2 Timothy 3:4).

REFERENCES

Bella (2009), “Kris Allen is American Idol Winner 2009!” Celebrity News, May 20, [On-line], URL: http://www.thinkfashion.com/blogs/stylosity_hollywood_hookup/archive/2009/05/20/kris-allen-wins-american-idol-2009.aspx.

Journals of the Continental Congress (1904-1937), (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office), [On-line], URL: http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=lljc&fileName=012/lljc012.db&recNum=159&itemLink=r?ammem/hlaw:@field(DOCID+@lit(jc01240))%230120160&linkText=1.

“2008 Official Presidential General Election Results” (2009), Presidential Election Commission, [On-line], URL: http://www.fec.gov/pubrec/fe2008/2008presgeresults.pdf.




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