A Critical, Judgmental Deconstruction of Derek Webb’s Life, Faith and Ministry
It seems that some people are expecting me to deconstruct the interview with Derek Webb. I am not going to do that. I am not going to write about what my conversation with him did to my opinion of his life, faith or ministry. There would be no value in that. However, I do have a few observations that I would like to make.
Webb is a personable guy and was very easy to talk to. We probably could have talked quite happily for a good, long time. He is obviously an intelligent guy and one who has thought deeply about the issues that are important to him. Furthermore, he is a passionate guy and approaches his music through the issues that he is passionate about. Now I certainly do not agree with everything he believes in and may not place the same emphases on certain things. However, I do believe in the gist of what he was saying. Clearly the church has fallen short in following the second greatest commandment. He seems to have realized the strange dichotomy that exists where the people who outwardly do best with the greatest commandment don’t fare so well with the second. This disturbs him and ought to disturb all of us. However, I am not convinced that the answers lie with the Jim Wallis’ and Don Millers of the world. I am not so sure that they are the people who should be leading the church towards this goal of re-emphasizing the second greatest commandment.
There are many questions I would have liked to have been able to ask. However, I did not want to keep him tied up for too long (on a day off, no less). Perhaps in the future I’ll have another opportunity to interview him and we can discuss some of these other issues.
Is G-Rated Entertainment Going Too Far?
Even CNN thinks it might be. In a recent article they cite Chicken Little, Toy Story and Shrek as examples of movies that push the boundaries of humor in films intended primarily for children. “As pop culture mimics today’s permissive social values, violence and veiled sexual references have crept into the seemingly innocent cartoon landscape, giving parents new reason to do research beyond the ratings.” There have been a few occasions where Aileen and I have been left shocked at what our children see in movies intended for young kids. The first film that really made me take notice was Shrek which was positively laden with sexual and pseudo-sexual references. From veiled comments about the size of a person’s genitalia, to scenes where a person is clearly engaging in some type of auto-erotic activity, we found the movie completely inappropriate for children. We turned it off and have no allowed them to watch it since.
“Everybody is trying to reach out to as wide an audience as possible,” said Disney spokesman Dennis Rice. “It may have some adult humor that goes over the heads of other audiences, but it’s never so colorful that it would affect the MPAA and how they rate the movie.” It used to be that children’s movies were intended to be for children. There was nothing in Cinderella that would endear it to adults. Yet in recent times, filmmakers have attempted to write movies that will appear to a dual audience. More often than not, I believe, they have succeeded in doing so. While children may not always understand the references to sexual innuendo, I don’t feel that this justifies allowing them to see and hear it. Children are more clever than we sometimes give them credit for.
A pediatrician interviewed for the article says that “ ‘Being there to discuss things that might be disturbing, upsetting or funny is probably the most important thing parents can do,’ he said. They should research the movies their children plan to see and learn about any questionable content in advance, he said, then be prepared to discuss it afterward.” Or even better, they can research movies and not allow children to see movies that would disturb them. I realize that this is not always cut-and-dried. Many of the old movies are disturbing on some level. Many children remember Bambi as being particularly disturbing or upsetting. Yet it seems to me that there is a great distance between witnessing the death of Bambi’s mother and witnessing characters laugh about the size of genitalia.
The San Diego Union-Tribute recently featured an article showing that the daily lexicon [of kids], whether on television, stored in kids’ iPods or packed in your soccer car pool, brims with borderline expletives – words some parents find inoffensive and permissible, though others deem crass, rude and unacceptable.” While many children still shy away from the f-bomb and other overtly offensive words, they may well engage in “cussing lite,” which the article says has “all the flavor of full-bodied swearing with half the societal rebukes.” We have come a long way from the days when words like “pregnant” and images like a toilet could not even be shown on television!
Among the words that are popular among kids and adults that would have been considered unacceptable, even a short time ago, are “suck,” “crap,” “frickin,” “freakin,” “bites” and expressions such as “holy crap.” “Vulgarity – like other things labeled out of bounds – has long held a coolness factor for kids and cultures. But when the real word is too much, the watered-down one still carries enough panache for the tween and under-10 set.”
Here is something from the “absolutely useless” files. Some enterprising person has gone through all the bother of making a Google map that will show the homes of a wide variety of celebrities. If you have ever dreamed of stalking Garth Brooks or Sandra Bullock, here is your chance. Visit Celebrity Maps (or don’t, I guarantee there will be no benefit in visiting).