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.

 

12 hours ago

Are you afraid to answer the phone?

Millions of Americans fear answering their phone due to a plague of billions of robocalls. These calls have made a mockery of the national Do Not Call Registry and touch on several public policy questions.

We had seemingly ended the problem of unwanted telemarketing calls. Congress authorized the Do Not Call Registry in 2003 after more than a decade of calls disrupting the peace and quiet of our homes. Fines of $11,000 per violation largely put telemarketing companies, with hundreds of thousands of employees, out of business.

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Why have unwanted calls returned? VOIP technology (voice over internet protocol) allowed anyone with a computer and an internet connection to make thousands of calls. A handful of responses can make thousands of calls worthwhile when the cost is almost zero. Furthermore, technology makes robocallers mobile and elusive.

By contrast, telemarketing firms employed hundreds of people at call centers. The authorities could find and fine telemarketers. Firms had to comply with the Do Not Call registry, even if forced out of business.

Technology further frustrates the control of robocalls. Spoofing makes a call appear to be from a different number. Spoofing a local number increases the chance of someone answering, defeats caller ID, and makes identifying the calls’ source difficult.

By contrast, technology allowed the elimination of spam email. It’s easy to forget that fifteen years ago spam threatened the viability of email. Email providers connected accounts to IP addresses and eventually identified and blocked spammers. Google estimates that spam is less than 0.1 percent of Gmail users’ emails.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) banned almost all robocalls in 2009 (political campaigns and schools were excepted). Yet the volume of calls and complaints from the public rise every year. And the “quality” of the solicitations is lower: legitimate businesses employed telemarketers, while most robocalls seem to be scams.

Telephone companies and entrepreneurs are deploying apps and services to block robocalls. The robocallers then respond, producing a technological arms race. The technology of this arms race, however, is beyond me.

I’d rather consider some issues robocalls raise. The root of the problem is some people’s willingness to swindle others. Although we all know there are some bad people in the world, free market economists typically emphasize the costs and consequences of government regulations over the cheats and frauds who create the public’s demand for regulation. People can disagree whether a level of fraud warrants regulation, but free marketers should not dismiss the fear of swindlers.

Robocalls also highlight the enormous inefficiency of theft. Thieves typically get 25 cents on the dollar (or less) when selling stolen goods. Getting $1,000 via theft requires stealing goods worth $4,000 or more. In addition, thieves invest time and effort planning and carrying out crimes, while we invest millions in locks, safes, burglar alarms, and police departments to protect our property. America would be much richer if we did not have to protect against thieves or robocallers.

Finally, having the government declare something illegal does not necessarily solve a problem. Our politicians like to pass a law or regulation and announce, “problem solved.” Identifying and punishing robocallers is difficult; the FTC had only brought 33 cases in nearly ten years. And less than ten percent of the over $300 million in fines and relief for consumers levied against robocallers had been collected. Government has no pixie dust which magically solves hard problems.

The difficulty of enforcing a law or regulation does not necessarily imply we should not act. The Federal Communications Commission, for instance, recently approved letting phone companies block unwanted calls by default, and perhaps this will prove effective. We should weigh the costs of laws and regulations against a realistic projection of benefits and laws failing to solve problems as promised should be revised or repealed.
Still, a law that accomplishes little can have value. Cursing robocalls accomplishes little yet can be cathartic. A law that costs little might provide us satisfaction until technology solves the problem.

Daniel Sutter is the Charles G. Koch Professor of Economics with the Manuel H. Johnson Center for Political Economy at Troy University and host of Econversations on TrojanVision. The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Troy University.

13 hours ago

VIDEO: Culverhouse vs. UA, Trump and Biden battle in Iowa, the Bentley saga could be over and more on Guerrilla Politics

Radio talk show host Dale Jackson and Dr. Waymon Burke take you through this week’s biggest political stories, including:

— Why did the media get the story with Hugh Culverhouse, Jr. and Alabama so wrong?

— Is the Iowa slap-fight between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden a 2020 preview?

— Now that former ALEA head Spencer Collier has settled his case with the state over his firing, is the sordid Bentley saga over?

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Jackson and Burke are joined by State Representative Mike Ball (R-Madison) to discuss medical marijuana, the prison special session and the lottery.

Jackson closes the show with a “parting shot” that calls out Joe Biden for lying about the lack of lies and scandals in the Obama administration.

VIDEO: Culverhouse/UA, Trump and Biden battle in Iowa, the Bentley saga could be over and more on Guerrilla Politics

Posted by Yellowhammer News on Sunday, June 16, 2019

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN.

14 hours ago

Alabama team targets international connections at SelectUSA Investment Summit

Alabama is home to a diverse lineup of international companies, and the state’s business recruiters are looking to expand those ranks.

The economic development team is in Washington D.C. at the 2019 SelectUSA Investment Summit, which starts today and is the premier foreign direct investment (FDI) event in the U.S.

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FDI is a significant part of Alabama’s economy. Last year alone, it came from 16 different countries, for a total of $4.2 billion in investment and 7,520 new and future jobs.

Since 2013, the state has attracted $12.8 billion in FDI, according to the Alabama Department of Commerce. It’s spread across a variety of sectors, including automotive, aerospace and bioscience.

“Team Alabama is looking to capitalize on a record-breaking year for FDI in the state, by continuing to build partnerships with world-class international companies looking to grow in the U.S.,” said Vince Perez, a project manager for the Alabama Department of Commerce.

SHOWCASING ALABAMA

SelectUSA is led by the U.S. Department of Commerce, and its annual summit regularly attracts top industry leaders and investors from around the globe. This year’s event is expected to draw more than 2,800 attendees from more than 70 international markets and 49 U.S. states and territories.

Participants of the past five summits have announced $103.6 billion in greenfield FDI in the U.S. within five years of attending, supporting more than 167,000 U.S. jobs.

“We are excited to have another opportunity to showcase Alabama’s vibrant business climate that’s been cultivated over the years through business-friendly policies,” Perez said.

“This year’s Investment Summit is very timely as we will be armed with the recently passed Incentives Modernization Act, which upgraded our already-strong incentive tool kit, making us more marketable than ever.”

The measure targets counties that have had slower economic growth. In particular, it expands the number of rural counties that qualify for investment and tax credit incentives. It also enhances incentives for technology companies.

Joining the Commerce Department at the SelectUSA Summit are PowerSouth, the North Alabama Industrial Development Association, the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama, Alabama Power Co., and Spire.

Speakers at the summit will include key government and industry leaders who will discuss opportunities in a broad range of areas and industries, such as energy, infrastructure, agriculture and technology.

FDI supports nearly 14 million American jobs, and it is responsible for $370 billion in U.S. goods exports. The U.S. has more FDI than any other country, topping $4 trillion.

(Courtesy of Made in Alabama)

A ‘Story Worth Sharing’: Yellowhammer News and Serquest partner to award monthly grants to Alabama nonprofits

Christmas is the season of giving, helping others and finding magic moments among seemingly ordinary (and occasionally dreary) days. What better way to welcome this season than to share what Alabamians are doing to help others?

Yellowhammer News and Serquest are partnering to bring you, “A Story Worth Sharing,” a monthly award given to an Alabama based nonprofit actively making an impact through their mission. Each month, the winning organization will receive a $1,000 grant from Serquest and promotion across the Yellowhammer Multimedia platforms.

Yellowhammer and Serquest are looking for nonprofits that go above and beyond to change lives and make a difference in their communities.

Already have a nonprofit in mind to nominate? Great!

Get started here with contest guidelines and a link to submit your nomination:

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Nominations are now open and applicants only need to be nominated once. All non-winning nominations will automatically be eligible for selection in subsequent months. Monthly winners will be announced via a feature story that will be shared and promoted on Yellowhammer’s website, email and social media platforms.

Submit your nomination here.

Our organizations look forward to sharing these heartwarming and positive stories with you over the next few months as we highlight the good works of nonprofits throughout our state.

Serquest is an Alabama based software company founded by Hammond Cobb, IV of Montgomery. The organization sees itself as, “Digital road and bridge builders in the nonprofit sector to help people get where they want to go faster, life’s purpose can’t wait.”

Learn more about Serquest here.

15 hours ago

Alabama Power wins Electric Edison Institute awards for power restoration efforts following Hurricane Michael

The Edison Electric Institute (EEI) awarded Alabama Power with the EEI “Emergency Assistance Award” and the  “Emergency Recovery Award” for its outstanding power restoration efforts after Hurricane Michael hit Alabama, Georgia, and Florida in October 2018.
The Emergency Assistance Award and Emergency Recovery Award are given to EEI member companies to recognize their efforts to assist other electric companies’ power restoration efforts, and for their own extraordinary efforts to restore power to customers after service disruptions caused by severe weather conditions or other natural events. The winners are chosen by a panel of judges following an international nomination process.

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Alabama Power received the awards during the EEI 2019 annual conference.

Alabama Power’s extraordinary efforts were instrumental to restoring service for customers across Alabama, Georgia, and Florida quickly and safely,” said EEI President Tom Kuhn. “We are pleased to recognize the dedicated crews from Alabama Power for their work to restore service in hazardous conditions and to assist neighboring electric companies in their times of need.”

Hurricane Michael, the strongest storm to make landfall during the 2018 hurricane season, was a Category 5 hurricane with peak winds of 160 mph. The storm hit Mexico Beach, Fla., on October 10 before being downgraded to a tropical storm and traveling northeast through Georgia and several Mid-Atlantic states. Alabama Power sent more than 1,400 lineworkers and 700 trucks to help restore service to customers over the course of two and a half months.

Hurricane Michael also resulted in 89,438 service outages in Alabama Power’s territory. Due to their tireless work, Alabama Power’s crews restored power to 100 percent of customers within four days after the storm, dedicating more than 124-thousand hours to the recovery.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)