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.

 

Ledbetter: Alabama’s teachers are standing tall with return to classroom instruction

All of the personality traits, values and life lessons that we carry with us as adults were shaped and instilled in us by the people we encountered in childhood. For many, the strongest influences came from our schoolteachers, who opened new worlds of knowledge and taught us skills that remain with us today.

Consider for a moment the music teacher who taught you to play an instrument, the math teacher who led you to a love of numbers, the history teacher who brought to life the stories of our nation’s past, or the English teacher who inspired you to love great literature.

Teaching is one of the few professions whose impact continues to last for decades after the individual who does the job retires.

As many children across Alabama are preparing to return to school even while the coronavirus pandemic continues, teachers have never been more important or vital or deserving of our deepest appreciation.

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Returning to brick-and-mortar school instruction will, hopefully, restore a sense of normalcy to our children’s lives in these decidedly abnormal times.

A return to the classroom and even resuming the online instruction that some are adopting will also help our students maintain their education progress and continue the important social and emotional development that interaction with their peers and instructors allows.

Our English second language learners will receive the communication skills they need in order to better assimilate, and many low-income students will receive the healthy nourishment from the school lunch program that might be denied them at home.

Given the current circumstances and environment, I recognize that some of our public school employees may have a sense of trepidation about returning to school, and that is certainly understandable. Wearing a face mask to do something as simple as shopping for groceries, paying for gas or walking into a restaurant offers all of us a constant reminder that COVID-19 is a very contagious virus.

But our teachers and educators are setting their concerns aside and answering the call to duty.

I know that Gov. Kay Ivey, State Superintendent Eric Mackey and the staff of the Alabama Department of Education took great care in developing the “Roadmap to Reopening Alabama Schools,” and local school boards are being equally diligent in creating and implementing their own safety guidelines.

The importance of sanitization will be stressed more than ever before, and billions of dollars made available to Alabama through the federal CARES Act will help ensure that any resources that are needed to reopen schools safely will be readily available.

As the majority leader of the Alabama House, I can also offer assurances that the legislature stands ready to pass legislation or make appropriations that are necessary to ease the return to classroom instruction once we are in session.

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted an even deeper appreciation of the frontline heroes who have remained on the job and provided the most essential services throughout the crisis.

Doctors and nurses in our hospitals and health clinics; grocery store and other retail employees; law enforcement officers, emergency workers and firefighters; postal workers; sanitation workers; restaurant personnel; and those in dozens of other professions are among those who continued working even when times were their toughest.

I am proud to say that the teachers, school nurses, administrators and support personnel in Alabama’s schools also rank high upon the list of those who have stood tall, and their already invaluable service to our state is even more important to students and parents in each of our cities, towns and crossroads today.

Helen Keller, one of Alabama’s most inspirational figures, once said, “It was my teacher’s genius, her quick sympathy, her loving tact which made the first years of my education so beautiful. It was because she seized the right moment to impart knowledge that made it so pleasant and acceptable to me.”

As I close by wishing everyone a safe, happy and healthy school year, we would all do well to keep Helen Keller’s words in mind.

State Rep. Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville) serves as majority leader in the Alabama House of Representatives

5 hours ago

Alabama Ag Commissioner Pate gives update on unsolicited seed packages from China, urges public to stay ‘vigilant’

MONTGOMERY — Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (ADAI) Commissioner Rick Pate gave an update Monday afternoon on the spate of seed packets from China that people across Alabama have received in recent weeks despite never having ordered anything.

Pate said that after the state seed labs had performed tests on the packets they had collected from individuals across Alabama, and none of them proved to be dangerous.

“Right at 50% of them proved be some kind of weed flower … 41% were vegetables, and 9% were herbs … we found no noxious compounds, no dangerous compounds,” said Pate at the event.

However, he warned, “They might send out the first seeds that weren’t treated with anything, have a sense of security come about, and then later send something out that could be harmful.”

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The commissioner further urged members of the public to refrain from planting any unsolicited seeds and continue to report them to the Department.

“At the very least something criminal has gone on here,” stated Pate, referencing laws that prevent seeds from being moved across state lines without being inspected by the relevant agencies.

Pate said his department had collected 252 seed samples as of Monday morning.

A total of 385 individuals in all but 11 of Alabama’s 67 counties have received one of the packets, according to information relayed at the press conference. State workers will be collecting the remaining samples soon.

(AL. Dept. of Ag/Contributed)

“Because we’ve got such a good food and drug lab, because we’ve got such a good seed lab, we knew this was inside of our comfort zone,” Pate said of the decision to conduct the seed tests in-house as opposed to shipping them to the federal government.

Andy Tipton, division director of Food Safety and Ag Compliance, said that 25 states had reported similar seed packets showing up at consumers’ doorsteps. He added that the ADAI was turning over all relevant info to the FBI, who were monitoring the situation.

Pate further told Yellowhammer News that one of the prevailing theories remained that the cause was an internet seller running a scam to artificially inflate their customer numbers and create opportunities for fake reviews.

He ended his press conference saying, “We have no idea the reason for this happening, but it doesn’t mean we can stop being vigilant.”

Any Alabamian still receiving one of the packets can report it here.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

6 hours ago

Alabama basketball star John Petty returning for senior season

University of Alabama star forward John Petty, Jr. will return for his senior season, the player announced on Monday.

The Huntsville native was a second-team All-SEC honoree this past season, after leading the Southeastern Conference in three-point percentage.

Petty was considering entering the 2020 NBA Draft, however he decided to return for a final season in Tuscaloosa after evaluating his prospects. Another college season could see Petty lock down his chance at being a first-round pick.

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Tide head coach Nate Oats released a statement on Monday afternoon celebrating Petty’s return.

“It’s great to have John back for his senior year,” Oats said. “He is certainly one of the best, if not the best, shooters in the country which is extremely important to us with how we play.”

“He’s made it clear that it’s his goal to become a first round pick in the 2021 NBA Draft and we’re going to work with him to make sure he’s in the best position to reach that goal. Let’s get to work!” the coach concluded.

Follow along with the Bama men’s basketball program here.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

6 hours ago

State of Alabama, University of Alabama System officials unveil GuideSafe app aiming to keep schools virus-free

Key figures from Alabama’s government and university systems joined to announced the new GuideSafe platform that bills itself as the key for students to safely return to college campuses amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The GuideSafe platform will help the state fulfill its promise to test every single college student before they return to campus, and the platform will provide a space for ongoing health monitoring throughout the semester.

The unveiling took place over videoconference, where State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris, University of Alabama System Chancellor Finis “Fess” St. John and other key players detailed the importance of GuideSafe to the upcoming semester.

GuideSafe was developed by the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) in conjunction with the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) and tech company MotionMobs. It will be provided to any educational institution in the state that wishes to use it.

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Governor Kay Ivey apportioned some of Alabama’s CARES Act funds for the development of GuideSafe and the universal free testing for college students.

St. John on Monday praised Ivey’s “decisive action to provide funding” for the testing initiative and other campus reopening measures.

(Click for higher resolution version that will open in new tab)

GuideSafe will be accessible via app on smartphones and tablets and via web browser on any computer. Students will be invited to join the platform in the coming weeks.

One of the key features of the GuideSafe app is that it will track the location of students via smartphone and then inform them if they have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus.

“This new app – using Google- and Apple-led technology and created by UAB faculty, staff and MotionMobs for the people of Alabama – is a necessary tool in our effort to return to college campuses safely this fall,” said UAB President Ray Watts.

The app also allows students and faculty to report symptoms as they experience them, and get directed to a nearby testing site if necessary.

“The combination of these tools enables every participating college, university and K-12 school to engage faculty, students and staff regarding on-going monitoring of symptoms, exposure and risks of acquiring COVID-19,” said Sue Feldman, professor and director of graduate programs in health informatics at UAB.

A general factsheet on GuideSafe is available here.

Watch:

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

6 hours ago

Trump fires TVA board chair after outsourcing uproar

President Donald Trump on Monday announced that he was removing the Tennessee Valley Authority’s board chairman, Skip Thompson, an Alabamian.

Thompson, a resident of Decatur, is the president and CEO of Corporate Billing, a subsidiary of Birmingham-based National Bank of Commerce. He previously served as the president and CEO of both First American Bank in Decatur and First Commercial Bank in Huntsville, as well as serving on the board of Decatur Utilities.

Trump appointed Thompson to the TVA board in 2018. He was elected chairman of the board last year.

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The president on Monday cited TVA’s plan to outsource information technology jobs overseas as the reason for firing Thompson and one other board member. Trump warned the other board members that they would be next if the outsourcing continued. The president also called on them to replace the organization’s CEO, who Trump said was making far too much money.

The president added, “Let this serve as a warning to any federally appointed board: If you betray American workers, you will hear two words: ‘You’re fired.’”

The TVA is the electricity provider for much of North Alabama. Self-described as “a corporate agency of the United States,” it is regulated at the federal level and not under the jurisdiction of the Alabama Public Service Commission.

Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) applauded Trump’s move on Monday.

“TVA fires AMERICANS & hires cheap foreign labor,” the North Alabama congressman tweeted. “TVA executive salaries EXORBITANT. TVA=NO competition, unlike private sector execs who compete to earn profits to earn pay… WAY TO GO [President Trump]!”

RELATED: Doug Jones: ‘The TVA has lost its way’

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn