Sunday, May 31, 2009

Review: The Goode Family

Wednesday, May 27, "The Goode Family" debuted. The animated sitcom is powered by Mike Judge (along with two others whose names are new to me), creator of "Beavis & Butthead" and "King of the Hill". The Goode's are environmentalists who struggle to meet the PC demands of being responsible residents of the planet. For example, they actually ask themselves, "What would Al Gore do?"

Judge's previous work, this subject, and the previews gave me hope for a laugh. However, the first episode was a tremendous disappointment. While I did not expect the show to go so far as to embrace all of my values, I was looking forward to seeing some good-natured fun being poked at "greenies". The debut did have some fun by honestly pointing out the irrationality of some Liberal ideas, but also encouraged sympathy for environmentalists' sincerity. In stark contrast to such gentle treatment, the culmination of the episode's plot was a grotesque and flagrantly dishonest mockery of Christians and abstinence in the form of accusations of overt incestuous tendencies. I felt ambushed.

The Goode matriarch has said about Christian abstinence proponents, "They're not like us", making reference to their cross pendants and flag pins. After seeing Christian fathers and daughters participating in a mock wedding to celebrate abstinence (I know, it's weird and thoroughly divorced from reality), the Goode's daughter, who is struggling against the PC notion that everyone must have sex, says, "Mom was right, they're not like us". If those who assert themselves as higher than animals by exercising their uniquely human quality of self-control were the sexual perverts (and up were down and east were west) as The Goode Family would have viewers believe, then who would disagree?

But, "They", are only grossly misrepresented here. I'm careful not to judge a series by only its first episode, but so far, we have a giant, poisonous Politically Correct pill, lubricated with humor for easy swallowing.

It is interesting that a show about a 'green' family would attack God; there is no obvious opposition here. But perhaps, we see in this attack an acknowledgement, however inadvertent it may be, of the more subtle reality that environmentalism is indeed a religion. This introduction may also reveal that the show will not critique PC behavior as advertised, but rather support it just like nearly everything else from La La Land.

The Thrill of Victory

I had a 'big thrill' this morning. You don't have to know me well to know I am not much for cleaning house. I make no secret of it. But I do wash myself daily and have, for years now, been concerned about my dirty bathtub. I've tried many different cleansers, but have been unable to make any real progress against the gray stains in my tub. I would scrub and scrub and scrub, then step back and look, thinking, "Hmm. That might be a little lighter gray than before."

Recently, I've been more committed to finding a solution. I collected all the cleansers and lined them up on the bathroom counter, determined that I will vigorously apply each in turn until I find one that can do, at least, some damage to the dirt. It looks like a superhero fight from a comic book: Bam!, Pow!, Kaboom!.

I have developed the 'intermittent habit' of spraying one of the cleansers on the tub right after I get out of the shower. Returning to the shower this morning, I first ran some water and tried to scrub the tub with a rough sponge. To my slack-jawed amazement, the dirt began to move! Most of it came up! Only the 'ring' where the dirt was thickest remains for later attention. I don't know why it worked this time, but not before. The bottom of the tub is a big clean spot. While showering I frequently rubbed my big toe on the bottom of the tub just to hear the clean squeak!

That's right. This is a big thrill for me. I'm often amazed at the things that little children find amusing or amazing. But I'm no different in the simplicity of the sources of my amazement. I laugh as I say this, but it's so true: it's healthy to have goals, and there's no shame in rejoicing in success, no matter how insignificant it may be to others.

So, as easy as you have found it to be to clean your own tub, I'm sure you have not neglected the task for so long as I have. I now have hope. That's right. Even from this relatively trivial thing, I have hope and inspiration for completing, not only this one thing, but also other tasks that have seemed daunting to me. Am I pathetic? Certainly. We all are, though some of us are mercifully reminded more frequently than others. Surely, everyone has some kind of challenges at almost all times. If life is easy, as we would all like very much for it to be, then we are doing it wrong! What can be learned, gained, or created from an easy life? We should enjoy even struggles because through them, we are challenged to grow and to learn. And victory is so very sweet. Over what will you have victory?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

It Goes Without Saying...

I enjoy puzzles and games. Obviously, such diversions are a commonplace part of our culture. I just solved a puzzle. Its solution is a quote from Erma Bombeck, a humorist whom many younger folks will not know. It's not important to know who she is. Her quote is this:

    It goes without saying that you should never have more children than you have car windows.

Now, I suppose that's kind of funny in an understated way. It seems harmless enough. But, I started thinking about what it means. First, the intention I believe is to imply that parents can have too many children. Second, and of more interest to me, is the implication that parents should control how many children they have. Mrs. Bombeck jokes that the first must go without saying (although she does say it). But, it must be obvious to her that the second also goes without saying. However, neither the idea that parents must exert control over the size of their families in order to avoid having too many children nor the idea that there is such thing as 'too many children' should go without saying. These are topics well worthy of discussion.

Whatever you may think about the size of families and the use of birth control is beside the point that I am making here. This quote exemplifies the ability of popular culture to influence its participants to a particular point of view with such gentle subtlety as to go completely unnoticed by an unsuspecting audience. Everyone, no matter what their beliefs, must be vigilant against such subtle persuasion. In order to avoid being misled, we must never allow anything to "go without saying".

Can you see this principle active in your own interaction with popular culture? Please share your examples. What have you been taught (rightly or wrongly) by our culture?

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Got Surf?

I have a dream... surf in Hawaii. I know that sounds frivilous. But, here's the fact: I get choked up watching movies or videos about surfing.

I'm so moved, perhaps, by the idea of being in the center of such beauty and power, both attributable to God himself. It makes me think of being right in the palm of his hand.

    His splendor was like the sunrise;
    rays flashed from his hand,
    where his power was hidden.
    He stood, and shook the earth;
    he looked, and made the nations tremble.
    The ancient mountains crumbled
    and the age-old hills collapsed.
    His ways are eternal.
    You trampled the sea with your horses,
    churning the great waters.
    ~Habakkuk 3:4,6,15