Friday, February 7, 2014

The Islamic Republic of America – Why Not?

“Why not you?”

This was the question Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson’s father asked him years ago. Apparently no one, especially young Russell himself, would have thought then that a little guy like him would end up leading his team to a Super Bowl championship. Yet a bazillion variables later, there he was, a confessing Christian glorifying God, however briefly, on worldwide TV for giving him what he needed to get the job done.

After watching the Super Bowl, I find myself asking why not an Islamic Republic of America, or essentially the same thing under another name? When I first came to Christ in 1973, my pastor could say with a straight face that he lived in “Christian America.” Yet this was twenty years after Bishop Fulton Sheen (according to James Dobson, whom I trust on this one) said that no society had ever reached the level of degeneracy America was at then – in the 1950s – and recovered.

I would have to doubt the santiy of anyone who watched the same Super Bowl I watched and thinks we live in a Christian America now.

A couple of weeks before the game, I had an e-mail exchange with a Muslim client, either a postmodern feminist or a pretty good imitation of one. When I asked why she insists on paying for my work the same day I deliver it instead of waiting until I consult with my bookkeeper to make sure I’ve got the bill right, she said – I’m pasting in her response here – ‘we have a quote by prophet Muhammad peace be [upon] him that says: “Give the worker his wages before his sweat dries away.”’

A few days later, my wife was regaling me with the woes of the adjunct faculty at the college where she teaches. It seems that they never know when they will be paid, and the first payday often comes late in the semester. Almost without thinking, I interrupted her: “That wouldn’t happen under Sharia law.”

It wouldn’t – or shouldn’t – happen under Mosaic law either, but who, even in churches, pays attention to that anymore?

Fast forward to the Super Bowl. My Seahawks won. Whoopee.

More importantly, though, American pop culture was on display during the ads. People with millions of bucks to throw around not only bought air time and paid for the ads to be produced, they did market surveys to make sure the ads they put on would appeal to the viewers.

And what did they conclude the viewers would want to see? Well, there was support for the military, not only surrounding the singing of the national anthem, but also by a beer company. There was a nationalist hymn presented by a cola company. Then there was a visual of men standing at urinals and a middle school–aged girl speculating that they might someday “have rainbows coming out their butts.” There was a visual joke with enhanced audio about flatulence. But the topper for me was a nod and wink to casual fellatio that no middle schooler could miss.

Fellatio? On worldwide TV? Where kids could see it? How so?

My feminist Muslim client to the rescue with the answer. Her latest paper was a discussion of hip-hop music from a feminist perspective, complete with samples from two big-name hip-hoppers of misogynist lyrics about fellatio. I then remembered that when Glenn Beck first got on the radio in Philadelphia he was decrying the apparently common practice of fellatio on school buses.

Well hey, silly me, if they're doing it on tax-subsidized buses and listening to songs about it, why not joke about it during the Super Bowl?

I came to the conclusion a while back that I grew up as one of what C. S. Lewis called “men without chests,” people missing the uniquely human characteristic of compassion. I wince when I think of how I almost didn’t kiss my mother goodbye when I knew it was probably the last time I’d ever see her and how, despite my desire never to do so, I regarded the female personality as simply one of many hurdles to overcome on my way to a girl’s really valuable tangible assets. I've come to hate the culture that produced me, even as I tap my feet to the music I used to dance to.

What will happen to the kids who grew up thinking casual fellatio was such a good idea when they realize they've been had? Will they turn to a church that celebrates the militarism and nationalism of the Super Bowl? A newsletter from a Christian organization I admire laments that three quarters of Christian children in the US chuck their faith after high school. If we can't keep our own kids, how can we expect to draw anyone else's?

Or will the next generation turn to something outside the church that stands apart from our degenerate culture? Why not Islam?

My client expressed no love for the misogyny of the hip-hop culture. Whether or not she puts misogynist hip-hoppers in the same basket with the militarism that lauds “heroes” who kill Muslim women and children in the Dar al-Islam from their air-conditioned battle stations in the US, I suspect she has even less love for the latter. I certainly would not want to invite her to a church that flies the flag that flew over the Super Bowl ads.

Few people would have predicted Russell Wilson’s success when he was a kid, and maybe it will be the Super Bowl culture, Millennial style, whose work brings about a truly Christian America – they can’t do much worse than we did.

But I think we’ve been trying that strategy for decades and have little good to show for it. Maybe we should try a little more “come out from among them, says the Lord, and be separate; do not touch the unclean thing.” I don’t know of many Christians who accept the kind of misogyny exemplified by casual fellatio, but I know of far too much acceptance of the kind of misogyny exemplified by the bombing of innocent women. Maybe repenting of that sin would be a good place to start.

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