02/04/04 From Abstinence to Breast-Exposing

According to Lycos, Janet Jackson made web history this week, by recording the most single-day searches in history, topping those of 911.

Meanwhile, having moved from reactionary to reflective mode, the Culturally Savvy Christian should be shocked, not by the Super-bowl halftime fiasco, but by parents who seem shocked that such behavior is broadcast on TV. At least one parent got it right saying in a letter to the editor, “This may have been the first time many forty-something parents spent any time viewing the content of MTV programming. Parents know their kids watch the cable network, but do they take the time to see what children are viewing on a regular basis? I doubt it.” CBS announced a 5 second delay at this Sunday evenings Grammy Awards, but it is motivated by potential FCC fines more than any concern about “morality.”

Want to read something sad? Read Lola Ogunnaike’s piece on Janet Jackson’s hopes to exploit Sunday’s breast-exposing fiasco. Having apologized for her national disgrace she is now ready to capitalize on it in a bid to sell more albums and keep her at-risk career on track.

Tucked away in the article is the reminder that nobody should have been surprised by her raunchy display she does it in every concert, “To be sure, Super Bowl evening was not the first time Ms. Jackson’s breasts have been given top billing. In 1993 she posed topless for the cover of Rolling Stone. Then, her nipples were obscured by a pair of male hands, not a silver broach. Historically, she has always vacillated between shy, retiring girl next door and sexually adventurous vamp. Night after night, during her sold-out All for You tour, she plucked a lucky man from the audience and gave him a lap dance while she sang. In recent years her lyrics have grown more and more provocative, with Ms. Jackson discussing everything from masturbation to bisexuality.” Then the sad reminder that at one time Jackson actually included lyrics about abstinence. “Let’s Wait Awhile,” one of the album’s biggest hits, encouraged sexual abstinence. “Let’s wait awhile before we go too far,” the chorus went.”

Spike Lee , no stranger to controversy, bemoaned the decline of artistry saying, “What’s gonna be next? It’s getting crazy, and it’s all down to money. Money and fame Somehow the whole value system has been upended. “

We ought to be concerned about the upending of both the artistic and moral values systems.

On artistic front, while the music industry lusts after young pop talent, classically trained artists are languishing and serious filmmakers push to even get their stuff produced and distributed. Norman Lebrecht , the British cultural critic, predicts the end of classical CD’s in 2004, noting “where the majors once fought bidding wars over shimmering talent, they now compete in shedding it.” And Clint Eastwood, whose Mystic River received multiple Academy Award nominations, commented on Hollywood’s obsession with the youth market, “this film could have easily tanked. Today’s market is such an infantile market. Everything is geared toward 14-, 15-, 16- and 17-year-olds.”

On the morality front I am reminded of two comments about choices. First Dallas Willard, who says in “Renovation of the Heart,” “choice is where sin dwells.” The other is C.S. Lewis, who in Weight of Glory” reminds us, “If you have not chosen the Kingdom of God, it will make in the end no difference what you have chosen instead.’ Those are hard words to take. Will it really make no difference whether it was women or patriotism, cocaine or art, whiskey or a seat in the Cabinet money or science? Well surely no difference that matters. We shall have missed the end for which we are formed and rejected the only thing that satisfies. Does it matter to a man dying in the desert by which choice of route he missed the only well?”

Illustrative of what happens when an individual decides to make the right choice? Mel Gibson is cutting an offensive scene after reviewing concerns about their accuracy from Jewish leaders. His response to one of them is stellar, “I hope and I pray that you will join me in setting an example for all of our brethren; that the truest path to follow, the only path, is that of respect and, most importantly, that of love for each other despite our differences.” Not bad for a guy who decided to make the film after a spiritual renewal triggered by his recognition that despite his success, he had reached a spiritual low point, “I was spiritually bankrupt, and when that happens, it’s like a spiritual cancer afflicts you.”

Before casting stones at Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake, remember, each human suffers from the malignancy of sin, which takes root when we chose anything over the Kingdom of God.

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