Friday, December 20, 2013

Shooting Straight's Culture, Duck Dynasty

Okay.  I'm ready for my wrist to get back to normal!  

It's now been nearly three weeks of "Pain Strain Right Wrist Twist," my unwelcome memento from the "icemageddon" that slammed north Texas two weekends ago.   I slipped and fell on some ice, sprained my right wrist, and can still barely type a complete sentence, even though most of the swelling has gone down. 

In the meantime, then, how about some bullet-pointed thoughts on various topics, instead of essay-style posts?  Most people seem either unable or uninterested in following a train of thought longer than a bullet point these days, anyway.  Weapons experts say bullets are one of the fastest ways of communicating something, so hopefully we can communicate with grammatical bullets.

And not leave any scars in the process.


Today's Topic:  Shooting Straight's Culture, Duck Dynasty
  • After the current issue of GQ hit the stands, cable television's Duck Dynasty and its main star, Phil Robertson, have become embroiled in the cultural saga pitting homosexual advocates against proponents of Biblical sex.  Granted, being punished with censure by A+E, the producers of his show, flies in the face of the very free speech most broadcasters claim to cherish.  However, Robertson's vulgarity in his anatomically-laced beliefs about sexual morality doesn't help his cause.  Let's face it:  Robertson did not answer the question posed to him by GQ biblically.  He quoted the Bible, yes, but he did not answer in a Christlike manner.  What is sin?  Sin is anything that offends our holy God, including homosexuality AND vulgar speech AND pomposity AND a lack of the Fruit of the Spirit.
  • I've never watched the show, but I understand that the quirky Robertson has a penchant for colorful soliloquies and blunt mannerisms that have become popular reasons people enjoy tuning in.  It's possible that Robertson really doesn't care what other people think about what he said, and he's independently wealthy enough not to need A+E's money.  Indeed, he also probably didn't calculate how his Duck Dynasty merchandise would fly off of store shelves as his fans reacted in glee to his censure.  Nevertheless, how is it anything less than reckless of him to deploy such language for publication regarding such a volatile issue as homosexuality?  Yes, the words of Christians should be seasoned, but they should be seasoned with salt, not pepper.
  • Duck Dynasty's Robertson is also coming under fire for his reminiscences about how content Louisiana's blacks seemed to have been when he worked alongside them as a farm laborer.  Some blacks have taken offense at his portrayal of an idyllic South in the 1960's, which the rest of us know as being a crucible for civil rights.  Here again, Robertson's personality may hew to the folksy and unconventional, but when he's speaking as a celebrity to a writer from a salacious men's magazine, shouldn't he prioritize his testimony of the Fruit of the Spirit in his life over whatever indifference towards a topic's weight he's become famous for exploiting?
  • And if Robertson really is clueless about the strife topics like homosexuality and civil rights elicit in our culture, might he benefit from watching all of this current dust-up over his comments?  Not that he doesn't have the right to speak his mind, but just because we have the right to do something doesn't mean we should.  His words weren't exactly helpful, loving, kind, good, gentle, or even indicative of self-control.  After all, Robertson's matter-of-fact philosophising and carefree loquaciousness may endear him to people who share his opinions, but popularity should not supplant Biblical ethics.  And, by the way, that "happy, happy, happy" mantra of his may be appealing to his viewers, but since when is happiness a Fruit of the Spirit?
  • Of course, one of the main reasons for Duck Dynasty's unexpected success involves how the back woods, deep South, bayou-casual culture of the Robertson family clashes as much as it meshes with conventional white, conservative, middle-class, suburban culture.  WASPS comprise the bulk of Duck Dynasty fans, and even though many fans share similar perspectives on religion, faith, politics, and family with the Robertsons, they don't have the Robertson's wealth - and certainly not a wealth earned through duck calls, of all things.  And even if, individually, Duck Dynasty fans may have the charisma and idiosyncrasies of the Robertsons, they all lack the media platform to spout their views and celebrate their lifestyle that A+E has given the Robertsons.  Thanks to the magic of television, Duck Dynasty's far-fetched redneck revelry may lull  viewers - and even the Robertsons - into a false sense of reality, yet our responsibilities for how we conduct ourselves when sharing our faith never go on hiatus.
  • There are real people out there who are watching Christ's self-professing followers, whether it's in our schools, our offices, our neighborhoods, or even our churches.  When one of Christ's self-professing followers has been given his own TV show, and grants a media request for an interview with a secular fashion magazine, their previous culture of anonymity is gone, and even though God always holds His people responsible for their words, even pre-celebrity, now a whole cohort of critics and pundits are going to as well.  And they likely won't be as gracious as our Lord.
  • As it is, Robertson doesn't need to apologize for having opinions that mirror the truth of the Bible, or even airing them to a reporter.  As even some liberal gay-rights activists have protested, A+E has no standing to deny Robertson his First Amendment rights, as crude as they may be (unless he signed a contract with A+E which forbade his public dissemination of opinions regarding topics like homosexuality and civil rights).  However, according to my understanding of the Fruit of the Spirit, Robertson would display a heartbeat for God by publicly apologizing for being as flippant as he seems to have been with such topics.  He shouldn't do so to get back on the show, which he doesn't really need anyway, but to demonstrate his love for people whose sexual orientation he may not agree with, or whose struggles for racial equality he may not appreciate.
  • That's taking responsibility and acting with maturity in the cultural role he's been given.  By God, not A+E.

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