In the Silence of the Mind: September 13th, 2013
Purity in the Media: Part 1.
After I recently posted my thoughts on the problem with numerical scores in reviews of creative products, Brandon came to me with an idea to start thinking-out-loud-in-public a little more often (my turn on Mike Burbiglia’s “Secret Public Journal” phrase). So, allow me to introduce you to “In the Silence of the Mind,” a semi-regular column designed to look at the music industry, music, and some practical theology.
To start off this column, I thought it would be fun to take a look at the practical theology behind what we consume in the media. If you’ve followed my story recently on the site, you’ll know that my book Here’s How: An Introduction to Practical Discipleship was released this summer through WestBow Press. Prior to writing Here’s How, however, I penned an as yet-unpublished book on what it means to have purity in your life.
After all, Matthew 5:8 says, “Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God” (ESV, Emphasis mine). That’s an amazing promise! But, can our media choices have anything to do with our purity of heart? To tackle that question, I want to take you on a journey through what I found in writing A Purity R/e/volution.
To start, let me tell you a little story. Now unlike many stories you find in books, this one is absolutely true. I didn’t even change the names to protect the innocent. This story is about a morning in my life several years ago, and it’s critical that you catch the point of this before I go on to give you what I have to say.
I’ve just turned 16 years old. I am a sophomore in High School and I have just purchased my first car. Oh it was it a beast. You see, my first car was a bluish grey, 1985 Subaru hatchback station wagon. I loved that car. It had 4-wheel-drive, just perfect for traversing the icy landscape of the arctic tundra known as Casper, Wyoming. Plus, it got what seemed like a million miles to the gallon. It was sweet. I think my favorite part of it, though, had to be the little switch on my dash that flipped my front Subaru logo around making it into a third, center light. Oh the fun we had freaking people out with that little light. No one ever saw it coming.
Now, since I was one of the first people in my group to turn 16, I got the dubious honor of playing personal chauffeur to many of my friends in the mornings. There were two buddies in particular that I had to pick up each morning. The first one, Dustin, lived only a couple of blocks from me, so it was never too much to pick him up.
Each morning I would get up, go to Dustin’s house and start my day by waking him out of his restful slumber. Never fail, Dustin would come to my car with half opened eyes and would say something to me in that half-asleep gibberish only he could understand. After that, we would take the drive out to Evansville, where my buddy John lived.
By the time we got out to John’s house Dustin was fully awake and he would serve as my own personal car horn, since I didn’t have a working one. I still laugh at the memory of seeing Dustin stick his bleached blonde head out my passenger side window and yell at the top of his lungs, “Honk.” It still cracks me up. And, without fail, John would drag his lifeless body out of his house and slump down in my car’s spacious back seat. This ritual went on for almost a full year.
Now I don’t know if you know this or not, but in the land of Wyoming it is always snowing. At least, that’s the way I remember childhood. Every morning I would fight the blizzards and pick up my friends, and without fail I would always hear the same three words from their frost bitten lips and chattering teeth, “Crank it up.” See, for teenage guys there is no talking in the car. When you’re in the car you ride and play the tunes so that everyone around you can hear. That’s just the way it is.
During this time in my life, I would come to call myself a “devoted” Christian. I became a “Christian” some time around the first part of Jr. High and by that point in life I had given over as many of the areas of my life as I felt comfortable with. But, God always seems to challenge you to come out of the areas that you are comfortable with, and to live in the Light that only He can provide you in the full service of Him.
This morning was one of those days.
I had just picked up Dustin and John and collectively we decided that we were going to jam to Nine Inch Nail’s The Downward Spiral. We scraped the ice off of my window, cranked the tunes, and headed for Kelly Walsh High School to start another fun day of reading, writing and ‘rythmatic. The music was jammin’ and the guitars were causing our heads to flail up and down uncontrollably as we all sang along with Trent Reznor crooning over his latest hit song.
It was in that moment, while listening to NIN, that God spoke to me. As we were all singing the song I caught myself and I began to listen to what it was that I was speaking into the void. It wasn’t pretty.
“Your God is dead and no one cares, and if there is a hell, well I’ll see you there. Your God is dead.” The words began to echo in my head. In that moment, everything got painfully silent and I was alone with the Creator of my soul. My body may have been there on the road, gripping the wheel through my thick winter gloves but my soul was suddenly before a Holy and Awesome Divine God. I was singing before Him alone.
“He dreamed a god up and called it Christianity,” flowed off of my lips before the presence of the One who created my very being. I looked square into His eyes as the hate-filled words flowed off of my tongue. His eyes were not filled with rage, though. God did not show me His wrath and smite me like Bruce Nolan tries to get God to do in Bruce Almighty. He showed me no anger at all. But, there on His cheek, was a single tear becoming frozen by the brisk Wyoming winds. It was in that moment in time that I realized that I was breaking His heart.
Now, of course, I didn’t really transport to some magical place where I could behold the face of God. If you recall, not even Moses was allowed to gaze upon the face of the Almighty God, but was simply allowed to see the train of His robe as He passed by. I didn’t really see God’s face in that moment, but the effect was all the same. The words that “I didn’t really listen to anyway”, were breaking God’s heart. And the fact that they were coming from my mouth, the mouth of one of His beloved children, was another strike to the head of the nail that held Him, bloody and mutilated on a Roman cross.
— So, this is the beginning of our exploration of whether media and purity have anything to do with one another. For many, the word “purity” means only “not having sex before marriage.” But, what if God has another definition? Anything here spark some thoughts? Be sure to comment in the section below and then check back next week for part two of In the Silence of the Mind: Purity in the Media.