Whacky Times: Ronstadt, Moore, Shyamalan, Chittister & more.

These are whacky times calling for discernment and wisdom, two qualities lacking in a hyped-up, marketing oriented culture and often in the religious movements rising up to meet it.

The lack of critical thought was fully displayed by Linda Ronstadt who evidently believes she has no fans among Republicans or Christians. Why else would she say, “It’s a real conflict for me when I go to a concert and find out somebody in the audience is a Republican or fundamental Christian. It can cloud my enjoyment. I’d rather not know.” Her acuity in American foreign policy is revealed when she set a “liking us” policy for making geo-political determinations, “don’t understand this country sometimes and I really fear for it. The government is making everybody in the world hate us, including the people that used to be our friends.” This is reminiscent of the embarrassing “You really like me speech” given by Academy award winner Sally Fields. The Alladin Hotel dismissed her for politicizing instead of entertaining.

Michael Moore joined the fray, evidently appalled that in a free nation the entertainment business could require entertainment and not political commentary from someone hired to entertain, “What country do you live in? Last time I checked, Las Vegas is still in the United States. And in the United States, we have something called ‘The First Amendment’ which guarantees the right to free speech. For you to throw Linda Ronstadt off the premises because she dared to say a few words in support of me and my film, is simply stupid and Un-American. What about the other half of the crowd at the Aladdin who, according to the Las Vegas Sun, cheered her when she made her remarks? Did you throw them out, too? [A statement from the casino in the desert gambling hub said Ronstadt was booted out because she had been engaged to entertain the audience, not to express her political views.] “

Moore, having already displayed his inability to grasp the concept of a fact-finding documentary has been joined in the entertain-docutary (I coined it spell check won’t help) by filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan, who participated in what was billed as an expose and turned out to be a marketing ploy with which he fully cooperated! Truth is a victim in today’s entertainment culture.

Knowing how to convey truth in today’s culture was the theme of a Christian Comic Book Writers convention (14 attended) in Illinois, where the Niebuhr “Christ and Culture” conundrum was given new meaning. While evangelicals high-five about our great cultural influence, the percentage of the population who declare themselves Protestant is about to slip under 50% for the first time in American History. (OOOPPPS).

If you ask me why this is happening I will argue that both evangelical and mainline Protestants have abandoned the deep mystical and spiritual traditions of our faith. I agree with Joan Chittister, who said, “We see people die spiritually every day. Sometimes they look very religious in the doing of it, in fact. They go on believing, reading, praying, thinking what they have always thought. In the face of new questions, they dare no questions. At the brink of new insights, they want no insights. They want comfort and a guarantee of the kind of heaven they imagined as children. They think that to think anything else is unfaithful.”

Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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