How culture rot happens: Unthinkable –> Laughable –> Thinkable –> Accepted


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POP CULTURE EXPRESSION OF ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY  

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, I want to take you to an article out of The Jewish Voice. The Museum of Pop Culture is looking to expand, adding a second location in New York City. The Museum of Pop Culture opened in Seattle nearly 20 years ago. 7,000 visitors come through this museum every year. Now they’re going to open a second site in New York City.

DR. REEDER: When you go to that museum, what are you going to see? There are certain spheres within a society that become almost the factory that produces pop culture as their product. What they are is somewhat obvious when you think your way through it, but what they can be may not be as obvious and that’s what, ultimately, I’d like to get to today.

In pop culture right now, it’s basically shaped by the music industry, the entertainment industry in its various aspects, from the products of cinematography, the YouTube industry, commercials in the media, novels that are read, television industry and the cablevision — and all of that contributes to the culture.

AIM IS TO SEEP INTO EVERYDAY CULTURE

They all have an impact, but when we talk about culture, what are we talking about? Culture is how society does business. Pop culture is how the society functions and what it expects within the popular spheres of life — the public spaces of life. For instance, right now — we talked about this yesterday — there is language in the workplace that would have been unthought of 50 years ago, thus you have the rising of a #metoo movement, which inevitably will come when the pop culture has created that environment that people are then being violated by what supposedly is acceptable, yet ultimately is destructive.

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Well, Harry, speaking of 50 years ago, CBS News recently reported it was 50 years ago in 1968 when the Broadway play, “Hair,” took root in pop culture. Unfortunately, I’ve got to report that that was probably the first time in Broadway where all the people on stage decided to take their clothes off. Is pop culture a reflection of our culture or is it dictating to the culture what our standards ought to be?

POP CULTURE “IDEAS” ARE NOT ACCIDENTAL

DR. REEDER: I think the pop culture is the product that these various industries — the entertainment sphere, the academic world, all of that — is beginning to operate a certain way to produce a sense of, “This is what we think the environment ought to be.” Some of it has hooks and hangs on and some of it disappears, but all of it has an ultimate impact.

The spheres of influence, unless they are impacted, influenced, retarded and restrained by the grace of God coming through the people of God and the power of the Spirit of God, will always take a culture into a death spiral in which it makes the unthinkable thinkable, and then the thinkable becomes acceptable and the acceptable becomes doable.

You get a sitcom that gets you to laugh that homosexuality is a merely harmless event and you’re laughing at it and if it becomes laughable, then it becomes thinkable, now it becomes acceptable, and once it becomes acceptable, then it becomes doable, and once it becomes doable, it becomes part of the culture. Once you begin to say it enough in a song, in a novel, in a movie, in a broadcast, on television, then it becomes mainstreamed into the culture.

You’re exactly right: once it gets into the culture, it doesn’t come in static; it continues to move in a downward spiral. The only hope is the influence of God’s grace that would restrain it and retard it by behavior that is both appealing yet confrontational.

“Oh, here is a family that has both order and ardor, has both ethical parameters and yet passion in relationships and compassion in relationships,” and that’s seen in the family, and that impacts a neighborhood and that impacts a city. And where should that be coming from? That ought to be coming from the Gospel ministry as the Gospel ministry presents the redeeming grace of God that transforms sinners and, once you’re transformed in your relationship to God, you begin to be transformed in your life — salt and light.

If the salt is salty, it doesn’t take much for it to affect the environment. If I speak of the contributors to pop culture being media, academia — being the entertainment industry, political industry — if I keep saying that, everybody will agree with that, but what they won’t think of, the most powerful influence upon pop culture can be the church of Jesus Christ.

THE CHURCH & CULTURE

However, the church will not — now, listen, Tom, this is important — the church will not impact the culture if it makes its mission to impact the culture. The church has to make its mission and its message to impact people with the Gospel, taking the Gospel to evangelize and disciple. And, as people get right with God and God works right within them, then their life changes and they become light in the culture and light dispels darkness, and they become salt and salt purifies, penetrates and preserves.

And so, it becomes a consequence of cultural blessing when Gospel transformation takes place so the church needs to see itself, not on a mission of cultural transformation, but as an instrument of cultural transformation as it fulfills its mission of Gospel evangelism and discipleship.

CHANGE THE PEOPLE, CHANGE THE CULTURE

I’m hoping I’m saying that clearly and plainly because, while we want the church to impact the culture, that cannot become the mission of the church — the mission of the church has got to be the Gospel mission and the Gospel message in the lives of individuals. And, when they change, their life makes an impact first in their family, in their church, in their community and in their workplace.

A LITTLE BIT OF TRUTH CAN GO A LONG WAY

Think of salt. My wife makes this corn on the cob; it’s unbelievable and I know what makes it unbelievable: butter and salt. However, it doesn’t take that much salt and it doesn’t take that much butter for a large ear of corn to be transformed. It doesn’t take that much salt to transform an entire pot of green beans if the salt is salty.

And, by the way, when it happens, notice that I don’t go up to my wife after the dinner and say, “Honey, that was the best butter and salt I’ve ever had in my life.” No, I say, “That’s the best corn on the cob I’ve ever had in my life.” But what made it so appealing and so attractive and what made it so tasty? What made it something that drew me to it in appreciation? It was that salt that was put upon it.

That’s the way the Christian is so let your speech be seasoned, is it were, in salt. Let your life by salty. Lift up the light and then, as the Gospel transforms your life, your life transformed will affect your family, your relationships at the workplace and all of that affects the pop culture.

I am not amazed at the downward spiral of our culture as expressed in pop culture because that’s the way it always goes because of the sin nature of humanity; what amazes me is the absence of the impact of common grace from God’s people and His church in the culture and that’s there because we have not engaged in the work of redeeming grace and evangelism and discipleship with a clear Gospel message and fulfill our Gospel mission, “Go and make disciples of all the nations.”

COMING UP TOMORROW: 50 YEARS SINCE RFK’S ASSASSINATION

TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, on tomorrow’s edition of Today in Perspective, I want to talk about another event that took place 50 years ago and that was the assassination of Robert Kennedy.

DR. REEDER: Tom, it’s interesting that you brought out a date, 1968, not only the production “Hair,” but that was a pivotal moment in pop culture. It also was the year of the assassination of Martin Luther King and it was the year of the assassination of Robert Kennedy, who, himself, becomes an example of movement in his life that reflects the culture and impacted the culture. Let’s take this up, even as we are in the very days that we remember that event of his assassination 50 years ago.

Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin, editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News, who has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and whose work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.

 

13 hours ago

Birmingham-Southern College to impose fee on unvaccinated students

Unless students of Birmingham-Southern College are vaccinated against COVID-19, those who attend the private liberal arts school will be forced to pay a $500 fee “to offset continual weekly antigen testing and quarantining.”

In an email sent to students, the college announced its pandemic protocols for those returning to campus for the fall semester. In what appears to be an effort to encourage students to receive the vaccine, BSC told students it will levy a monetary charge against those who are unvaccinated. The school cited the need for funding to be applied toward COVID-related mitigation measures as a reason for the charge.

The email reads in part, “Due to the lack of federal funds for pandemic precautions this term, all students will initially be charged $500 for the fall term to offset continual weekly antigen testing and quarantining. Students who are fully vaccinated prior to the beginning of fall term will receive an immediate $500 rebate.”

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The college announced in the email that it has also set separate move-in dates for vaccinated and unvaccinated students.

The College Republican Federation of Alabama (CRFA) has condemned the move as discriminatory against students who have chosen not to receive the vaccine.

“The College Republican Federation of Alabama condemns this obvious attack on students who are not vaccinated,” says CRFA chairman Clint Reid. “While vaccines are an important tool in the fight against COVID-19 we are still a free society where one should not be held at ransom to the tune of $500 if they do not feel the vaccine is the best course of action for them. We call on Birmingham-Southern College to drop this outrageous fee.”

The college’s email goes on to direct students who have been immunized against the virus to complete a “Vaccination Report Form.” BSC stated that the school’s goal is to achieve an 85% vaccination rate among students, faculty and staff.

Portion of the email sent to BSC students as follows obtained by Yellowhammer News: 

Birmingham-Southern College did not respond to a request for comment. Yellowhammer News has inquired with the Attorney General’s Office regarding the legality of BSC’s guidelines and will provide updates accordingly.

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL

14 hours ago

Tim James: A house divided against itself cannot stand

Last week the discussion of COVID vaccination burst into the news and ripped the scab right off the wound exposing the divide among Alabamians about whether to vaccinate or not. We all know there can be tense moments among friends and family when the vaccine topic comes up especially when there are differing opinions in the room.

Well, last week the discussion hit a fever pitch on a grand scale and landed on the front pages of the national news outlets. According to news reports, in Alabama, there are about 2.5 to 3 million people that have CHOSEN NOT to take the vaccine out of the state’s population of 5.1 million. Approximately 60% of all Alabamians have made this their personal health choice.

I am writing this letter today to express my distaste for those bent on shaming people in which they disagree on the vaccine issue. They divide Alabamians into two classes: the vaccinated and the unvaccinated. The media’s contempt is in overdrive for anyone that dares to disagree and not blindly follow the government directives. So, they shame by spewing their poison proclaiming the unvaccinated are the problem. Their assertion of “Blame” by extension means the unvaccinated are responsible for the spread of COVID. If you want to blame someone or something, blame the virus and the makers of it. As everybody knows, it was not the bats.

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The problem is not the unvaccinated, but rather those spawning division among the population. It’s the BLAME GAME.

They shake their fingers in the face of millions of Alabama citizens for refusing to take the vaccine and are beside themselves when everyone does not fall in line like sheep. I guess the unvaccinated are the “New Deplorables.”

I’ve listened to their shaming long enough and felt it was time to stand up for millions of Alabamians that have made their decision, over the many months, NOT to take the vaccine. I fall into this category; however, like most families I have family members that have chosen TO take the vaccine. Alabamians know full well what is going on in their communities, local hospitals, nursing homes and churches. They are not ignorant to the medical realities and associated risks. Neither are they reckless or selfish.

Every unvaccinated person has considered whether to take the vaccine for months. They have discussed the matter with others, prayed about it and even may have tolled back and forth on the decision. In the end, their “call” was to not take the vaccine for their own personal reasons. I can’t help but wonder why so many vaccinated people lecture everyone else when they themselves have marginal health risk as they are the vaccinated class.

Has it occurred to them that their shaming is certain to follow children into the classroom in the form of bullying? Do they care about young women in childbearing years who are rightfully cautious about what goes into their bodies? It’s ironic that people that CHOOSE NOT to take the vaccine are labeled dissenters even though they are the majority in Alabama and cross all races and political lines.

Going forward I want to encourage people to take a deep breath and stand back from the situation. COVID, of course can be lethal, but at the same time the odds of fatality are extremely low. This is one of those times when we must not succumb to fear. Fear is the root from which anxiety and worry bud.

Fear is a weapon used to manipulate the public, and the press is its enabler. The Lord speaks to the issue of fear through the Apostle Paul. “For God hath not given a spirit of fear but of power and sound mind” – 2 Timothy 1:7

I also would like to take this opportunity to say something about Governor Ivey’s statement last week concerning unvaccinated Alabamians. She said, “It’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the regular folks. It’s the unvaccinated folks that are letting us down.”

The unvaccinated people represent approximately 60% of the population in our state. The Governor’s comments triggered uncontrollable elation and gaiety from politicians and news anchors at CNN, NBC and others. As one could expect, President Biden and Dr. Fauci were ecstatic at Alabamians being scolded by their Governor over this issue. I believe the Governor’s comments were off-base. I also believe she likely misspoke in the heat of the moment; something any of us could do. As we navigate forward, we need to lower the tone and not take the bait of those whose goal is to sow seeds of division amongst Alabamians.

I have a message for the American press corps concerning their hysterical, fear-based coverage of the pandemic.

It’s a quote from Edward R. Murrow, the great broadcast journalist during the first half of the 20th century.

He effectively warned his fellow journalists what would happen if the free press became compromised. He wrote: “No one can terrorize a whole nation unless we are his accomplices.”

Tim James, the son of former Gov. Fob James, is a Greenville, Alabama businessman. He was a 2010 GOP candidate for governor.

14 hours ago

Regions names Jason Isbell senior vice president of state government affairs and economic development

Regions Bank has tapped one of the state’s foremost experts on banking law and government affairs to serve as senior vice president of state government affairs and economic development.

Jason Isbell comes to the Birmingham-based bank brandishing nearly two decades of legal and government affairs experience in the public and private sectors.

Elizabeth Taylor, head of government affairs and economic development for Regions, highlighted Isbell’s depth of knowledge and relationships throughout the industry.

“Regions Bank has a strong history of working with government leaders and other stakeholder groups on issues impacting our associates, customers and communities,” Taylor said in a statement to Yellowhammer News. “Jason Isbell brings a wealth of knowledge and experience on a variety of financial services matters to this role. His work building relationships and navigating a myriad of legislative issues will serve us well. We look forward to his service advancing economic development opportunities that move our communities forward while also building on the strong relationships we have in the areas Regions serves.”

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Isbell most recently worked with Maynard Cooper & Gale where he represented a wide array of clients, including Regions, as an attorney and lobbyist in the firm’s Government Solutions Group.

Prior to his time at Maynard Cooper, he held the position of vice president for legal and governmental affairs at the Alabama Bankers Association (ABA). Isbell was charged with implementing ABA’s legislative and regulatory agendas at both the state and federal levels. He honed his skills in public policy during his 11 years in state government, first as a fiscal analyst for the Alabama Legislative Fiscal Office and then as general counsel to the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Isbell is a member of the Faulkner University board of trustees and is a graduate of the school’s Thomas Goode Jones School of Law.

Regions Financial Corporation recently reported $748 million in second quarter earnings. The company cited strategic decisions in high-growth areas, such as Florida, Texas and Tennessee, as contributing to those earnings.

Isbell noted the momentum of the bank’s growth and influence throughout its footprint as he prepares for this new endeavor.

“I’m excited to represent an institution with such a rich history and stellar reputation,” he told Yellowhammer News. “Regions Bank is poised to continue making a positive impact on communities in Alabama and beyond. I’m grateful for this opportunity and look forward to being part of the Regions team.”

Isbell is set to officially join the bank in mid-August.

RELATED: Joia M. Johnson appointed to Regions board of directors

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

15 hours ago

State Rep. Wes Allen: Biden administration’s mixed message on COVID shows he doesn’t put Americans first

The Biden administration is issuing warnings to Americans regarding the increasing number of COVID cases across the country. Calls for a return to mask-wearing and social distancing are becoming more frequent from the President and his advisors.

Businesses, large and small, fear the possibility of mandated shutdowns that plagued our nation last year. Parents are wondering if they will be forced to face the inadequacies and challenges of remote schooling again. These are all worries that are being forced upon law-abiding, tax-paying Americans by the Biden administration.

But it goes further. Our northern border with Canada remains closed to non-essential travel for fear of spreading the virus. Biden and his team cited concerns over the Delta variant as the reason for banning travel from 26 nations including most of Europe, South Africa and Brazil.

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This all seems like a concerned President who is trying to save our nation from the death and damage of a pandemic. But a closer look at Biden’s policies proves that his concern is not for Americans and he has little to no desire to stop the spread of COVID from coming across our border.

His policy that allows thousands of illegal immigrants to move freely across our southern border and into our towns, neighborhoods, restaurants and schools without any regard for their immigration status or their COVID test results prove that the Biden administration doesn’t care about America or Americans. Is the health of Americans, the success of our economy and the fate of our schools and health care system of any concern to this President or his advisors?

I think not.

State Rep. Wes Allen is a Republican candidate for Alabama Secretary of State.

15 hours ago

Alabama League of Municipalities launches Economic Development Academy

The Alabama League of Municipalities (ALM) on Thursday announced the creation of its Economic Development Academy, which will partner with local leaders in an educational capacity to offer their assistance regarding business and industry recruitment practices.

Developed in conjunction with the Alabama Community College System (ACCS) and supported by an advisory council of industry leaders, the Academy will engage local leaders and help them further understand their role in the economic development process.

The Academy is specifically designed to educate and engage municipal officials and designated community business leaders on best practices and strategies for successful economic and community development. Additionally, the ALM says the Academy will focus on the role of elected officials regarding evaluating abatements, legal processes and implications, correctly marketing the community, gaging the community’s expectations, workforce development as well as other key aspects of the development process.

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ALM says the Academy is unique from other economic development programs in that it is tailored to municipal officials using a team model. The mayor or another designated elected or administrative official and at least two council members are required to participate from each community to form a team of up to five members.

In promoting the new program, ALM executive director Greg Cochran conveyed the importance of economic development efforts that take place at the local level.

“Our organization is pleased to collaborate with the Alabama Community College System and Neal Wade to launch the ALM Economic Development Academy,” said Cochran. “It is our goal for the Academy to develop intentional programming and identify resources to empower our municipal officials so they can create legacy programs and projects within their cities and towns. Municipalities are the foundation of our state’s economy, and it is the League’s mission to provide our members the necessary tools to build a community where citizens can live, work, play and prosper and where businesses can thrive.”

The Academy will take place over a full year and consists of an orientation; four one-day sessions that include community assignments; and a special graduation ceremony. To graduate, participants must conduct an economic vitality survey of their communities; complete a community assessment/project; and attend all sessions.

At the conclusion of the year-long program, graduates will be presented a certificate of municipal economic development from the League and ACCS.

Neal Wade, former head of the Alabama Development Office as well as a consultant for Alabama Power, The St. Joe Company and the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, has been tapped to develop the Academy’s curriculum and conduct the classes.

“The objective is for Alabama communities to be the best they can be and competitive for growth and new revenue,” Wade said. “Setting realistic expectations for each community will be foremost.”

In addition to working with Wade, the League has developed a partnership with ACCS to provide classroom space and workforce development resources for Academy participants. The four mandatory sessions for selected municipalities will be conducted at ACCS campuses throughout the state based on each region.

Chancellor Jimmy Baker praised the partnership and expressed his optimism on the potential growth opportunities he believes can stem from the Academy.

“At Alabama’s community colleges, everything we do is workforce development – from education and training to providing wraparound services and hosting community events,” Baker said. “We are honored to work alongside the Alabama League of Municipalities to launch the Economic Development Academy and host its participants at our campuses across the state. Education is so often the linchpin to positive change and the resources and training this effort will provide will have a positive impact on Alabama for years to come.”

An Academy Advisory Council has been developed to add input, assist with training and provide additional resources to the process. The Council consists of state and federal government agencies, ACCS presidents, utility partners, League strategic partners, local economic developers and statewide business associations.

Academy applications will be accepted via the League’s website July 29 – August 31. Applicants will be thoroughly evaluated and candidates chosen by mid-September. There is a community fee to participate.

Those interested in attending the Academy may apply via online application at almonline.org.

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL