Thursday, November 20, 2008

Pugged In and the 'American religious right'

One of the biggest stories that the political news teams are covering since november 4th is how many people across different demographics voted for Obama. Which is good, and within the inevitable Christian concerns something that encourages me. I think. Nearly a month out and i still don't think i've ever felt this conflicted about the results of an election. Anyway, i digress. One of the stories that the media have been most interested in is how diluted the 'white evangelical' vote was. In essence how they didn't all vote for McCain, and in close states like Ohio may even have carried the vote for Obama. Is this the end of the religious right powerhouse, they wonder.

I've been thinking a lot about that phrase recently. I had come to conclude that the 'American religious right' doesn't really exist in the way that a lot of the media on both sides of the atlantic make out that it does. I was beginning to think that it was just a convenient media construct and be done with it. Then i realised i was in fact so deeply immersed in it's culture and location, i was a bit like a fish that stopped believing in water. Apart from the all white churches, the Confederate flags flying outside people's houses and the preachers in cow boy hats (ok, i made that last up!)

Probably my favourite example of this is a website called plugged in online who 'shine a light on the world of entertainment'. Now that is a very worthy thing. Very worthy, good for them. There should be mainstream Christian responses to mainstream culture. I really believe that. But i'm really not sure it should look like this.

There are some excellent leaders, this one, for example, but on the whole there's no engagement, little affirming the good, little talking about how Christians should talk to their unsaved friends about the films, just an, at times hysterical, list of reasons not to see films, or listen to most records.

My favourite examples include the violence section of 'sisterhood of the travelling pants 2' that lists Blake Lively falling into a pit and a complaint about people wearing a Bindi in HSM3. Neither of those things are going to lead a kid astray parents. Stop abdicating responsibility to a website! Anyway...

The music section prohibits most of my iPod, specifically White Pony, which is as intense as it is excellent, and the Arctic Monkey's debut 'whatever people say i am thats what i'm not', which apparently takes us dangerously close to the British club scene. Run away kids. Quick. Fall Out Boy are slammed for their 'ludicrously long song titles'. I think that's the straw that broke this camels back.

Now, a large caveat. There does need to be a way for parents to protect their children from the pervasive sex and violence in so much entertainment. They do need to be able to access a resource that makes it easy for them. There are a couple of paragraphs about the pro social content in every film. People can know exactly how much swearing they are going to hear when they pay for a film and if there are any scenes that will lead them to stumble. And plugged in is a product of it's environment, not the seed but it's still a big opportunity missed.

All the things that i mentioned i loved about the DG catalogue in the post below, the engagement, the creativity, the fun are missing here. It's just stirring up fear, reactionaryism and separatism at every turn. And that's a shame.

1 comment:

Ben Stevenson said...

Not all white evangelical Christians in the USA voted for John McCain, but most still did.

"...Obama picked up more white evangelical voters than John F. Kerry in 2004, receiving 26 percent to Kerry’s 21 percent, according to a Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life analysis. With white evangelicals accounting for a full quarter of the electorate, that slight uptick translated into a couple million more evangelical votes for the Democrat.
In a handful of states, Obama’s gains were more impressive. In Indiana, Obama won 30 percent of white evangelicals, compared with Kerry’s 22 percent. In Colorado, Obama got 23 percent of white evangelicals versus Kerry’s 13 percent.

But comparing Obama’s evangelical performance to Kerry’s isn’t an accurate yardstick. Bush had a special bond with those voters and got record-breaking support from them in 2004, winning almost 80 percent of white evangelicals. Looking at pre-2004 elections, it’s clear that Obama’s evangelical gains represent a return to traditional evangelical voting patterns rather than new inroads.

What’s far more noteworthy about the election is that McCain managed to get 1.5 million more evangelical votes than Bush...."
-- Politico: The evangelical shift that wasn’t