Archives For Ethics

The only good things to be said about the burlesque ambush of the NFL Superbowl LIV’s halftime show, is that Shakira’s and Jennifer Lopez’s vocal talent hasn’t waned, the stage effects were well coordinated and the choreography never missed a beat.

Beyond this, the scant clothing, right down to the provocative dance moves, presented another “sex sells” exhibit, displaying how far the overt sexualisation of Western culture has taken society back to a pre-Christian paganism, with its excesses and its abuses.

The principal message being sent to women by the 15 minute segment is twofold. First, if you haven’t got the sex appeal to sell talent, talent is useless. Second, provocative dance and stripping before cameras is where the money’s at.

On the outside, the principal message being conveyed to men is that the objectification of women is okay, just as long you’re willing to pay handsomely for it.

Franklin Graham was among the first to raise concerns about the overt nature of the event and its consequences:

Pastor Bob Beeman, founder of the heavy metal ministry, Sanctuary International, usually cautious in his agreement with the criticism of culture by some American Evangelicals, boldly declared:

“The Super Bowl half time show was very disturbing. With so many families watching all over the world, where is the outcry? Have we really become that desensitized? We used to call that pornographic. You can’t “unsee” that. Catering to the lust of male Super Bowl fans, and continuing the degradation of women everywhere!
For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 1 John 2:16″

Likewise, Ryan Bomberger, Co-founder of The Radiance Foundation, stated:

“Unfortunately the halftime show ‘proved that cultural identification is apparently more important than character formation. Latino culture was not celebrated last night; it was exploited. Flashing and grabbing your crotch isn’t empowerment, no matter the “culture”. As a father of two girls and two boys, I want them to understand that their God-given equality, dignity and worth should be used to evoke love not elicit lust. (I understand this is my Christian worldview, and I can’t expect the world to share it; but fellow Christians *should*.) Funny how in this #MeToo era, entertainers seem to vie to be as naked and as sexual as possible–not on a director’s couch–but in front of over a hundred million sets of eyes. J-Lo, Shakira and the #NFL let down a generation of girls and boys who deserve so much better than the fake feminism on full display last night.’”

I’m not prescribing a return to a repressive, idea of Puritanism. Even though the idea of the Puritans being prudish, instead of prudent, is based on a misrepresentation, brought about by the post-modern disregard for history, which makes history too easily forgotten.

I’m simply stating that what people like to call post-Christian, is more a regression back towards the pre-Christian. Its deification of self and its subjugation of humanity to the idols of the old pagan world: money, sex and power.

Celebrity endorsement as a means to service an economic, social or political end is not a new phenomenon. Thomas Doherty calls this

‘the politics of celebrity’, writing that the ‘body of the Hollywood star had first been drafted into national service during World War One…In Leninist doctrine, the artist stood among the vanguard elite, a cadre whose shining example would lead the benighted proletariat into the dawn of revolutionary enlightenment…The Hollywood star, trading on stardom, is a valuable commodity that can drive heartfelt solicitation.’ [i]

Western society’s return to the inhumanity of paganism was brilliantly articulated in season five (2012) of the (modern day Robin Hood) TV series Leverage. In episode two, the crew have to thwart an owner of an Ice Hockey team, who’s turned a massive profit by turning the game into a blood sport – The CEO’s justification was backed up by his profits leading to him declaring: “People don’t pay to see a game; they pay to see my enforcers fight!” (slightly paraphrased).

The pattern established by participating stakeholders in recent years means viewers should know what to expect from the NFL half-time segment. So, vote with the remote. Let the TV fall silent for half-time, let the sound of silence be heard loudly by the industries represented, that they may bring back some class and self-respect to sport and entertainment.

Jennifer Lopez and Shakira have vocal talent. They shouldn’t need to sell their bodies, or have others sell a sexualized image of themselves, in order to showcase that talent. No woman should. The challenge for the rest of is to not buy into the voyeurism, lustful fantasy, and the greedy smiles, lies and hi-fives attached to the sex sells paradigm.

Lilly Allen’s apt sarcasm appears to have fallen on deaf ears:

‘Life’s about film stars and less about mothers. It’s all about fast cars and cussing each other; I’ll take my clothes off and it will be shameless ‘Cause everyone knows that’s how you get famous.’ [ii]

Lying underneath all this is the question: Does this capitulation to pre-Christian paganism, and did the manifestation of it in this burlesque ambush just inadvertently declare the #metoo movement dead?


References:

[i] Doherty, T. 2013. Hollywood & Hitler:1933-1939, Columbia University Press (pp.111-115)

[ii] Allen, L.R. & Kurstin, G. 2009. The Fear, from the album, It’s not me, It’s You.  Sony Music

First published on Caldron Pool, 5th February, 2020

Cropped from a photo by Sandro Schuh on Unsplash

©Rod Lampard, 2020

neonbrand-463099-unsplashGrace shows humanity God’s commitment to humanity. This commitment isn’t the result of our empty attempts to placate a bored King who has everything. God’s commitment to us has nothing to do with any human sycophantic transaction. It is a totally aware, pure, turning towards creation by its Creator.

God’s commitment picks humanity up from its failure to fulfill its own commitment towards Himself. Even when rejected, God’s commitment remains unchanged. It cannot be undone. The follow through of grace means that human commitment is fulfilled. God has done it. What is left is the human response to the completed work.

That human commitment fulfilled by God necessitates a turning of the creature back towards the Creator. Hearts and minds are directed back to the memory of His act on our behalf. Humanity is graciously shown the way and firmly commanded to follow.

For Karl Barth, ‘all that [then] remains for me to do is to let my eyes rest on Him, which really means to let my eyes follow Him. This following is my faith. But the great[er] work of faith has already been done by the One whom I follow […] To abide in; to trust in God (Ps.91:1) to believe is to stand in in the communion of saints; who has received, receives and will receive the forgiveness of sins, who hastens towards the resurrection of the flesh and eternal life […] His faith is the victory which has overcome the world.  But that it is this victory does not rest with [the believer], but solely with Him in whom he [may] believe.’ [i]

Human commitment is empowered by God’s grace to be lived out. That humanity is empowered  towards commitment means that whilst God’s act of grace is immutably superimposed, it is not forcefully imposed. We are simply shown the creation and opening of a door where there was none before. God has an exit plan. He spells it out with the letters e.n.l.i.s.t. This is the response to the call of grace: ‘grateful obedience’ (Barth, 2/1 p.229). The commitment of the ‘free man to the free God.’ (Barth, 2/2 p.561) is empowered by God’s revolution; a revolution no man or woman can lie about to control or trump.

This is confronted by God’s act and claim on humanity, to humanity, for humanity vs. humanity’s self-justification and rejection in its counter-claims about God.

“This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men and women by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:11-12, ESV)

No other can lay claim to being this truth; fact; Christ event: God’s revealing of Himself in Jesus Christ. No other can lay claim to being the source of goodness; ethics, right and wrong. No other can claim to be the sole hope and promise of our future. Come Nero, hashtag riot, Hillary, Trump, unjust law, illness, closet-oppressive utopian idea, rainbow ideology or Hitler,

“The subject of theological ethics is not the Word of God as it is claimed by humanity, but the Word of God as it claims humanity. It is not man as he is going to make something of the Word of God, but the Word of God as it is going to make something of man* […]The grace of God is always this: Jesus Christ. It is from what God has done for us that we must learn to read what God wants with us and of us. We must seek the command of God only where it has itself torn off the veil of all human opinions and theories about the will of God**” [ii]

This is the chief reason for why we Christians call the Gospel, Good News. God lives and He speaks!

‘A Christian is one who knows that God has accepted him in Jesus Christ, that a decision has been made concerning him in Jesus Christ as the eternal Word of God, and that he has been called into covenant with Him by Jesus Christ as the Word of God spoken in time.’ [iii]

Summed up by Barth, in true Barth fashion:

‘We hear the Gospel as we obey it. For Jesus Christ is the basis in which we may believe in God, the Word in which dwell the light and force to move us to this event. He Himself is the Gospel. He himself is the resolve and the execution of the essential will in which God willed to give Himself to us. The grace of God, of the God in whom we may believe, is this. In Jesus Christ the eternal Word became flesh. Without ceasing to be who He is in Himself, God became as one of us.’ [iv]

As Karl Barth repeatedly remarks, God wills to be with us & wills that we should not be without Him:

‘Death could not hold Him [Jesus Christ], & therefore it cannot hold us. In the midst of death we have in Him no future but that of resurrection and eternal life. The grace of God decides and has already decided concerning our human existence. What then does it mean to be human now that this decision has been reached by the grace of God? It means to be one who stands and walks and lives and dies within the fact that God is gracious to us, that He has made us His own.(Gal. 2:19)’ [v]

The human response to the question of God’s grace, is ‘our answer to this Word. It is a free action bound by commitment’ (Barth, 2/2:546 paraphrased).

In other words, life with God, begins with, God with us.

Jesus Christ is the Gospel (Barth). He is the author, recipient and standard of both the Shema Yisrael and Lord’s Prayer:

“Hear O, Israel: The Lord our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.” (Deuteronomy, 6:4-5, ESV)

 


References:

[i] Barth, K. 1942 The Basis of the Divine Claim, CD 2/2 Hendrickson Publishers (p.559)

[ii] Ibid, p.546* & pp.560 & 559**

[iii] Ibid, p.547

[iv] Ibid, pp.557 & 558

[v] Ibid, pp. 558-559

[the words wrapped in parenthesis are my own]

Originally published 7th November 2016.

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

©Rod Lampard, 2018

The information revolution may one day be described as the age of politics, power and propaganda.

It’s good to know the differences and to act justly on them.

 ‘Do not become slaves of men [or women].’
– (Paul, 1 Corinthians 7:22-23, ESV)

 

ThoughtsonSocialMedia_blogpostMay1st2015

‘Hatred obscures all distinctions.’

– (C.S Lewis, On Science Fiction, 1955)

Porthole1

The aim of this is simplicity.

Filed under rough drafts.

Pilgrim

I can’t be easy without my pen in my hand, yet I know not what to write.

(John Adams, 1774 The Letters of John and Abigail Adams (Kindle Ed).