Tag Archives: american culture

The Christian Bible–A Communist Manifesto? Socialist Propaganda? Where is the Gestapo of Righteousness When You Need ’em?

So… the Christian Bible. Do you believe what it says is true? Are you a communist? A socialist? A rebel? A reader of this blog? Wow! That’s impressive!

I’m always amazed by the many people who refer to themselves, and rather sanctimoniously indeed, as ‘Christians’ while they continue to advocate ideas and actions that defy what the Christian bible actually teaches.

I’m no biblical scholar, nor am I the most devout. In fact, I’m rather agnostic these days–unsure about everything. Is there a God? Are humans basically good? Or evil? Are Americans more selfish than the rest of the planet, or are we just playing out the dark side of human drama–human nature at its worst. We’re one of the richest countries in the world but that doesn’t motivate us to make the world better. Our wealth as a nation has just made us greedier, more selfish. So is it better for the spirit to just remain poor? Can you be a good person and be rich? Possibly, the love of money is the root of all evil? Well, that’s what the Christian bible says anyhow…

Whew! That’s too heavy, even for me right now. (It is the holiday season, after all…)

Ehem.

Yet I remain surprised (heck, I’m flabbergasted!) when I meet so-called Christians who support ideas like these:

“Money is great! Ya’ gotta love money, or you’ll be poor! Selfishness is good! Don’t share/Don’t care!  And power over other people too–that’s great! We need to control others. God wants us to be rich! Greed is good! We should want more, more and more! The homeless choose to be homeless, so we shouldn’t help them. We shouldn’t provide safety nets to help the poor because the poor are lazy, don’t want to work, are making bad choices, etc. ”    __the propaganda machine, a.k.a., various mainstream media sources in the usA… (sic)

(And then I meet people who are not Christians, sometimes are atheists, and they can be the kindest most loving people without a big, strong hyper-masculinized god to bully them into being nice ’cause otherwise they’ll go to hell! How do they do it?)

Oh yes, there’s lots more propaganda I could discuss here, but just for the sake of saving time and space, let’s talk about the poor, the homeless, those who are suffering economically. Should we help them? Should we budget cut programs to help the poor while continuing to give to the rich? ‘Cause ya’ know, the rich are so nice. They want to make money so that they can help us. They don’t make money to enrich themselves and their families. They don’t have selfish motives. They make money so that they can give some back to the rest of us, right?

Yeah, right. That’s why they keep trying to get out of paying taxes ’cause they just love giving back to the society that provided them with the resources they needed to get rich in the first place.

Hmm…

But goshly gosh, it’s Christmas/Kwanzaa/Chanukah/the holiday season/an Atheist’sNightmare, so shouldn’t we all come together as a people and share? At least for now? Share the wealth among each other?

Got plenty of money to go to college? Well, then why not  give someone else a scholarship so that he/she can go?

Got plenty of money and then some, for food? Well, why  not go out and give food to those who need it?

Got plenty of energy and physical strength to do work? Well, why not find an elderly or disabled person who can’t and needs help then mow their lawn, trim their hedges, shovel their snow, cook them a meal, etc.

Why not? Why not help someone else? It’s a great way to meet new people. Think of the new friends you could meet. Think of the many ways that person might end up helping you, might become a shoulder you can one day cry upon when there’s a death in your family, or a person you could go to for advice when you’re facing a problem you can’t solve. We never know how we might help each other (and sometimes in small ways that don’t involve money.) Yes, it may take up a little of our time, but may also enrich us on a spiritual level and make our lives worth living. That is both priceless and timeless.

What are you saying? Are you promoting communism? Socialism? Goshly gosh, don’t you like capitalism?

Nope, I’m talking about kindness, fairness, peace and love. I’m talking about what the Bible that you claim to have read actually does teach:

–that at the end of times, the least among us will move to the top:        “…the last will be first and the first will be last…,”  _Matthew 20:16

that we should give and give willingly, be willing to give the shirt off of our backs:  “Give to anyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.”  _Luke 6:30

“If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone takes your cloak, do not withhold your tunic as well.”  _Luke 6:29

“If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too.” Matthew 5:40

Just be happy with basic necessities. Don’t strive for massive amounts of material wealth:

“But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to be rich, however, fall into temptation and become ensnared by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction.” _1Timothy 6:8-9, New Int’l version

The Lord will provide, so don’t worry about money and material possessions: “If that is how God clothes the grass of the field,  which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you–you of little faith.”  _Luke 12:28

The way we treat the least fortunate among us is the way we’re treating God himself. Can’t give to the poor? Then you are snubbing God himself!: “Truly, I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” _Matthew 25:45, New Int’l version

“Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter–when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”   _Isaiah 58:7

But my own personal favorite is this one: “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” _1 Timothy 6:10, New International version

Mass Media Exclusive! Most Americans Under-represented by Mass Media?

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        photo by Cappixx

I live in the USA. While Americans like to believe they tolerate diversity, my experience has been that in practice, Americans are exactly the opposite of tolerant. In fact, I would dare to say that most Americans are marginalized, and we’re particularly marginalized by our own mass media which is controlled primarily by a few large corporations. Because those corporations are run by affluent, white males (who are actually a minority in this country,) the majority of Americans remain under-represented in our media.

Poor people and homeless people are especially marginalized. In fact, I often think that people in other countries who watch American television and films probably believe that all Americans are rich. American media makes it appear that poor people don’t exist.  Rarely does one see a film or TV show that stars a poor, black female character who takes the bus to work and comes home to a tiny, one-room apartment, who can only afford Ramon noodles for dinner, who cannot afford to attend college and who is told she needs a medical treatment but can’t afford it and becomes severely ill because of it. There was an old TV show called “The Honeymooners” which featured characters who lived in tiny, drab apartments and who couldn’t afford luxuries. But that show seems to have been an anomaly in American television.

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            photo by Cappixx

Americans have become very materialistic and money-focused, and our media seems to be encouraging that ethos as it helps the advertising industry which supports our media to make money. What many people don’t realize is that the “customer” that the TV/radio/ newspaper/film industry needs to please is not the viewer but it is the advertisers. The advertisers pay the money that keeps the TV/radio/film/newspaper/magazine industries in business–not the viewer. The viewer is the customer of the company that’s being advertised on TV, not of the TV show itself. TV shows are produced to please the advertisers. (Of course, they want viewers but only so they can tell the advertisers that their ads will be seen by consumers with money to spend.) Same is true, sadly, of magazines, radio programs, even newspapers, to an extent (though I do think newspapers remain more news-focused and less disconnected from the average American.) This is why many of us Americans are marginalized and not represented at all by our media.

Blacks (people of color) who are largely kept in poverty, women, disabled people and people over 55 are also underrepresented by mass media.  The exception is news and political commentary which is usually dominated by older, white men. (Older women are rarely seen and blacks of either gender are noticeably rare in mainstream media political discussion.)

American media is decidedly youth-focused. A younger generation has more disposable income and is more easily influenced by advertising. The elderly, who often are retired or working part time, if working at all, tend to acquire less money and fewer material things. Since they aren’t contributing to a materialistic society by making and spending money, they aren’t the best consumers for the advertisers and so are ignored by our media.

American media is also white-male focused. Of course, white males have most of the money and, therefore, are best able to buy the products advertised. As I mentioned, this is particularly true of political commentary and news which is mostly dominated by older, white males.

Women and minorities have a tougher time finding high-paying jobs and are typically hired for low-wage, dead-end positions, so we aren’t always the best consumers–unless we are frightened into buying. While there are a lot of advertisements aimed at women, they seem to thrive on making women feel unsafe and insecure, and, therefore, marginalized. We women are particularly supposed to feel bad about our physical appearance. We are told we must remain youthful, slim and with perfect skin and bodies. In order to do that, we must buy their advertised products, of course. So white women do find some roles in mass media but usually stereotyped roles–young, perfect in appearance, appendages to men and, therefore, good consumers. Only the women who buy the skin creams, hair products, etc., who are able to appear “perfect” are allowed on the TV or film screen.

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    photo by Cappixx

While there are some white women and a few black actors, most TV programs and films are produced, written and directed by white males. Comedy sitcoms often do star some white women comedians, but few blacks, Hispanics, and almost no Native Americans. Producers, writers, directors, and those involved in the control of the content and programming remain mostly white male. Even “liberal” programs such as the Colbert Report and the Daily Show were produced, directed and written by mostly white men. Consequently, portrayals of women and minorities are largely stereotyped.

I believe that written media–magazines and newspapers–are more inclusive but they are also dying here in the USA. Fewer people take the time pick them up and read them. Most people are on the Internet or watching TV.

The Internet, of course, is more inclusive, and this is where there is some hope for positive change. Just about anyone can create a podcast or videocast for the Internet. I often watch Democracy Now, the Sane Progressive and Abby Martin’s Empire Files online– shows hosted by women, albeit white women. I’ve recently discovered “LTMB–Let the Madness Begin,” a progressive political Youtube talk show which is hosted by two black men.

While Internet programming, including most Youtube channels, appears to still be dominated by white men, that is changing, and I think there is hope that more women and minorities and people from diverse backgrounds will create educational, newsworthy programming online. But I do not see hope that mainstream media–television, radio, major newspapers and magazines–will become more inclusive. As long as it is funded by advertising, I can’t see hope for any change there.

Oh, you’re being “negative” again! Boo, you Gloomy Gus! Boo, you Debbie Downer, you!

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photo by Cappixx

Look, I’m just being realistic. As long as we have a money-focused, unregulated capitalist society, then those who have the most money and the most stuff will win friends and influence people. Want that to change? Then face it. We can work out ways to change it next… But we have to face the reality of it first.