Sometimes decisions, even if they are the right ones, can hurt. Years and years ago, when my kids were just little children, I tried to share with them an image of a stick in a fast, flowing river, standing against the tide. Or a fish, swimming the opposite direction of all the other fishes. Living in Alaska, we are blessed with so much wildlife all around us. We have had moose in our yard over and over again. A momma moose tried to come up to our front door, but could not fit on our deck (which I thought up until that moment was quite large!). We have had a flock of baby ducks waddle across our yard, dutifully following their momma back into the wilds. We get to go to these special places where we watch the salmon trying to get back to their spawning grounds. They are all working against the norm. And what does that mean to us? Well, sometimes we need to make decisions that go against the tide…or against what is commonly done.
When our boys were young, we had no TV access. So we augmented their viewing by having videos of popular Disney movies. And then, my husband and I started to note a trend in these story lines: Rebellious kid knows more than parents; parents caution kid not to do X-Y-Z, and they do it anyway; kid apologizes to parents because they realize their parents were right all along. In varying degrees most of the themes of these movies were off-spring going against their parent’s values, learning the hard way that values are good things, and finally embracing them for themselves. For us, these movies exemplified, glorified, and supported, defiance in all things parental. That is not a lesson we wanted drummed into our sons’ brains and hearts. Unfortunately, or not, depending on your viewpoint, we opted to crush or destroy all our Disney movies on VHS (all there was at the time – the 80s/90s). Our kids were mortified. A movie, not Disney, that we particularly did not like was, “Fern Gully.”
It was not the fairy aspect, because we love fairy tales. It was the entire “destruction of the rain forest and industry is bad” theme. Now please do not misunderstand me. I am all for taking care of nature. I believe in CONSERVATION, not PRESERVATION. And I want our lands here for future generations. But there is a vast difference between the two!! So we opted to toss that one on the destruction pile, as well. And these choices were not popular. Not with our kids, and with many of our friends; even our parents thought we were nuts. But a friend said something I have never forgotten, “Why, instead of boycotting something, why don’t we put our money behind things we believe in and support?” (Thank you, Mary). And a light bulb went off. What a great idea!! So instead of Disney, we opted for wholesome, family entertainment.
We opted for different stories for our children, and different sorts of heroes. We focused on good literature and stories that pulled them in and captivated them. One of my fondest memories is reading, every night, the Narnia series, aloud to our boys. Were we made fun of for removing Disney from the lives of our sons? We were. But then it sort of caught on in our homeschooling group and before you knew it, lots of our friends had these heroic, and clean, sorts of books and movies for their kids (this was before Veggie-Tales and other options…remember 1980s). And for my husband and myself, it changed our world. It made us think about lots of other things, from a different perspective. We went from boycotting to focusing on our support. We got a list, through the recommendation of a friend (many thanks, Pam), of all the corporations who support Planned Parenthood, from Human Life International (they are a wonderful resource for all things pro-life). And we shopped all around that list. We avoided giving our money to PP by spending it with vendors who do not support PP. We did this in all areas of spending including clothing, food, and even replacement of things like refrigerators and vehicles. And when it came to our retirement funds, we would only allow investments into “clean” funds. We chose to live out our faith as much as we could, including groceries and cleaning products, as well as restaurants and theme parks. Out of this experience, we came to love supporting the local, small, vendor and trying to avoid chains of any sort. It is harder than you think. And we have failed miserably at times because it is just less stressful, or easier, to go to Best Buy or to eat at QDoba. We are wrong when we let our convictions slide like that.
As a 13-year old in 1969, I discovered this athlete, and his name was Otis Taylor. For whatever reason, he impressed me so very much. My brother and I would play football in the yard and he was always Joe Namath and I was always Otis Taylor. I began to follow the Chiefs and have been a fan ever since. About 7 years ago, when we lived in the Seattle area, I fell in love with the Seahawks. Mostly because I had never lived in a place where there was just one team for each sport. And so I began to follow them, too. My daughter-in-law made me a blanket that has the Chiefs on one side and the Seahawks on the other. I have jerseys for both teams, with my favorite player’s numbers. And then the game got political. And I stopped watching it. About that time, we chose to get rid of cable and just stream what we wanted to see. So the Super Bowl was on yesterday, with my beloved Chiefs playing, and it was missed by me, a fan for 50 years. I admit I watched Twitter Live to keep up with what was going on, while spending a quiet Sunday afternoon watching movies with my husband. But I was able to be so detached from it, honestly, and I found I did not really miss it. Not watching football was a hard decision, but it was for the right reasons, for me. And today, all over the Twittersphere and Instagram, we have the half-time stuff from yesterday. Personally, displays like that of Shakira and JLo, to me, put the women’s movement back decades. It was so sexually charged and I was personally embarrassed. JLo is 50 years old, for heaven’s sake! Shakira is 47. Where is their modesty? Certainly not at half-time! I get the cultural angle, and I understand wanting to share Miami culture and dance and the Spanish language, but the dance moves and attire were far too suggestive and unwarranted for a family football event of that scale. So glad I watched it this morning, so I could see for myself what was being discussed.
And I have come to this conclusion – we deserve what we are willing to put up with. What we allow on the TV, to come into our homes, is what we deserve. It’s what we are willing to pay for. I watched a special on Netflix about Aaron Hernandez, who committed suicide at 27 years old (he played for the Patriots). Long and involved story. But there was a comment made by a fellow player. Paraphrasing him, he basically said that “football is in the business of selling violence.” (What is usually attached to violence? Yeah, raw sexuality). And if you think about it, they are pretty much imaging the old Coliseum games when lions were eating Christians. And look what happened to Rome!
In addition, we have to consider how we allow ourselves to dress. Are we maintaining our personal modesty? Do we encourage modest behavior in all things? I admit it, I am wearing leggings right now. There has never been anything invented more comfy, other than my sweats or my flannel PJs!!! They are ridiculously comfortable. But it is not the best look for me. As I once saw in a meme, “Leggings are not pants!” LOL. True. I now keep them for home wear, to keep the hubby happy (he prefers me in jeans! LOL!), and to keep myself in check. I have to always be sure I am modeling the behavior and choices my faith sets before me. I am sometimes the only Jesus someone will ever be exposed to. Do I want to be dressed like Jennifer Lopez was yesterday, at that moment? More than likely not.
One of the shows I really, really, really, dislike is the View on ABC. I have not watched them in years. Whenever something controversial on the show comes up, I will watch the clip to see for myself, but I avoid them. Whenever one of their hosts makes comments that are horrifically inaccurate or incite further division, I ask myself, “Why do these women get the air time?” “Why do we listen to them?” If we changed the channel and stopped shopping at their advertisers’ businesses, maybe the network would reconsider them. I do not give people like that space in my world. That may sound narrow-minded, but it is also a protection for my battered heart and aching soul in a world that is daily leaving God out of everything. And that sort of media is what I am referring to when I say we deserve what we get. “Normal values” of faith and family make up 90% of America. But we allow the other 10% to ride roughshod over media (news, TV programming, movies, even books). We are allowing 10% to tell the 90% how to live. And it is not right. Yes, be aware of the minority, but also pay attention to the MAJORITY of this country. We need to draw that line in the sand and just say, “No. Enough is enough.” We need to take this country back. I was speaking with a young mother who was commenting on poor behavior from some children and my comment to her made her stop and look at me. I told her, “Kids like boundaries. They feel safe in them. And they like it when “no” really means “no.” We are doing them a disservice always allowing the “gray” areas be the norm in life.”
This crucifix was hand-carved by a man who specialized in carving ducks. He won numerous local, national, and international carving competitions when he was asked to carve this for the local Catholic parish. Whenever we attend Mass there, we try to sit on the left side (as you are facing the altar) because that crucifix mesmerizes me. It makes me think. The corpus is so realistic. And I am humbled and reminded to keep God before me always. There is a prayer I love, the Anima Christi, and this line just attached itself to my heart years ago: “Within thy wounds hide me…” and I take comfort in that. I imagine myself safely tucked away near His heart, safe in my hidey-hole of security within Christ. (I know it’s weird).
And I have been thinking about where people feel safe. At home. Heads in the sand. Tsk-tsk-tsking what they see that bothers them on television. Still at home, safe behind their locked doors. Hurrying up and changing the channel when it gets so abhorrent they do not want their kids to see it or hear it. Or like us, disconnecting cable and just streaming; what we can stream may not be the best example for others, either. How do we slow or stop this eroding of our culture?
At Mass on Sunday, the deacon gave a great homily about living in a “post-Christian culture.” And it has not left me. Does “post-Christian” meaning we are past it? What is ahead? If we are past Christ, what is laying in wait for us down the road? Personally, Christ is not past in my life. I think too many of us are allowing our culture to become devoid of the Christian principles it was founded upon. (With Brexit and other happenings worldwide, I do believe many others are noticing their lack of decisiveness). Too many of us are complacent and allow our Christian world to go down that rabbit hole of hedonism and chaos. Of division and hatred. I think there has to be a better way to combat all the evil that is around us. A Christian way….
There is a way to save us, to ensure we are not a “post-Christian world” my friends. Some things can only be driven out by prayer and fasting (Mark 9:29). We all need to rededicate ourselves. We need to proactively ensure Christ wins…always. He has promised us that “upon this rock I will build my Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” in Matthew 16: 17-19. And we can rest in those promises. However, we still need to do our part. Our children and grandchildren depend upon it.