Tag Archives: church

Seize the moment: Social Media and the burning of Rome.

Did you know that the Romans of Nero’s time actually developed the concept of social media and the internet?

In 72 A.D. the Flavian Amphitheatre, most commonly known as the Roman Colosseum was built.  55,000 Romans would fill this magnificent facility to view and participate in grand dramatic plays and bloody examples of mankind’s desire to see others hurt.  Cheering as Gladiator slaves fought to the death and Christians were slaughtered in countless ways.  This was all great entertainment.  At the conclusion of many Gladiator fights, the Emperor would seek the approval of the crowds in showing either mercy or death to those on the stage.  Interactive entertainment where you can watch and participate.   I imagine that little mercy was ever shown.  Why?  Well, you take the wife and kids down to the Colosseum for a night of entertainment and its just not complete unless you can finish on a high note of watching and participating in the destruction of another person.

Run the clock forward to today.  The internet and social media sites have become the new Roman Colosseum and we are the Romans.  Rarely does a month pass that we don’t hear of and see examples of  the online destruction of someone’s character and even their lives.  We have a bloodlust desire to expose and destroy others for our entertainment.  It doesn’t matter whether they are famous, wealthy, poor, defenseless or just another person at work or school.  Its just in good fun! Right?  Tyler Clementi, a Rutgers student, was the last victim of this bloodlust.  This is not a story about Tyler’s lifestyle.  Its about taking anyone’s private life and exposing it to the world.  Unfortunately, the new colosseum holds many more than 55,000 viewers and participants who crave these opportunities.

Now, the Roman Colosseum and Social Media Sites did and do provide a great platform for education, enrichment and communication.  Roman culture thrived on the great re-enactments of historical battles, music, theatre and debate; all of which occurred in the great Colosseum.  The internet and its related social media sites provide even more of the same.  However, instruments of good have an equal, if not, greater capability of perpetuating the bloodlust desire which resides within mankind.

Is our culture today on the same decline as that of the great Roman empire?  Are we driven to an insatiable desire to see, experience and maybe even cause harm to someone else as viewers and participants on the internet?  Is it time for us to wake up as a culture and see where we are heading?  Oh, what is that?  Do I hear Nero on the steps of the Colosseum playing his harp as Rome burns around him?

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Seize the moment: “Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future”

My teenage son and I love to listen to 70’s and 80’s rock as we drive to his school in the morning.  My greatest enjoyment is singing along while we drive.  Like many, the interior of my car is the stage and my captive passengers are the audience.  While I slaughter the lyrics and bob my head like any good rocker, the smiles, laughter and “stop you look crazy” comments are priceless.

Of recent, work demands have elevated to new highs with no end in sight.  Time away from family has increased.  As I performed with the Steve Miller Band this morning, the lyrics, “Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future” hit me pretty hard.  Music is like a time machine for me.   As this song played on XM Radio, I immediately remembered the first time I heard it while sitting in my North Halls dorm room at Penn State.  Waiting on friends to walk over to Beaver Stadium for a great day of football, the lyrics were permanently burned into my memory. There I was for a moment,  a 19 year-old loving life and college and, then that priceless smile on my 14 year-old son’s face as his 53 year-old father, who works too much,  butchered a song.  Yes, time does keep on slippin’ into the future.  Its slips into the future fast! 

Is it more important to squeeze every moment out of a day for another meeting or stand on your Chevy Malibu stage with the XM Radio Band butchering a song while bobbing your head like a fool to your captive audience?  The answer to that question is pretty obvious!  I hope when my son is 53 driving his son to school and the Steve Miller Band plays this song on the really old oldies channel, he will relive that day when he was 14 locked in a car with his rocker dad.  A moment captured because his dad opted out of work this morning and drove him to school.

Seize the moment…Does forgiveness mean to excuse?

Has our culture today blurred the distinction between the definitions of forgiveness and to excuse?   As a Christian, I worry that many within the church no longer understand the difference; perpetuating sin patterns within Believer’s lives.    I call this the “Tiger Woods Syndrome”.  In no way is my intention to make light of the horrific circumstances around Tiger’s life, but it is the most visible example within our media driven culture today.  A sin is committed and caught.  Public admission of the sin is made, forgiveness is requested and steps are taken to resolve the sin issues within one’s life.  And, then the media culture debates the issue.  In this case, the question was not on the impact to the lives closest to this situation, but on what it would take to restore the “Tiger Woods” brand.  I heard many talk about the fact that Tiger’s brand would rebound because of our culture’s habit of forgiving and forgetting. Within a reasonable time a  public relations campaign would restore and excuse a person for a grievous sin committed.  Sponsors and fans would return and everything would be forgotten.  One sports celebrity even made the comment that these things happen all of the time and the public would move beyond it.  I contend that our culture defines forgiveness in a way that not only is the sin forgiven, but the lifelong hurt to others is swept under the rug and excused.  I worry about this message and how our culture translates that into all situations big and small.    My greatest concern is the impact on Christian values.  Many within the church are defining these values within the context of a secular worldview.  For those within the church who challenge this modified view, the attack can be brutal. 

Case in point, Fox News commentator Brit Hume ran amuck of the secular worldview when he commented on the Tiger Woods situation. Hume encouraged Woods to turn to Christianity for the forgiveness he really needs citing that it is the only religion where redemption and forgiveness can be found.  “I don’t think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith,” Hume said. “So my message to Tiger would be, ‘Tiger turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.”

The secular world responded, Tom Shales of the Washington Post reacted and advanced one of the core principles of the secular worldview. “If Hume wants to do the satellite-age equivalent of going door-to-door and spreading what he considers the gospel, he should do it on his own time, not try to cross-pollinate religion and journalism and use Fox facilities to do it.”   (taken from Devotions.com..blog entry by Mike Ruffin)

The Bible defines forgiveness as only coming when you or I turn to Christ with a repentant heart and seek His forgiveness for what we have done.  Does that excuse us from the hurt we might have caused?  NO.  Can that be swept under the rug? NO.  We must own the outcomes of our sin and accept the repercussions it has caused.  Godly men and women seek forgiveness with a repentant heart, but they do not excuse themselves from the outcomes of their sin nor should they expect that to happen. I worry that we are becoming a culture where the word accountability has no meaning.  Are we living lives without the accountability our Christian faith requires?  Where there is no accountability, the meaning of Christian forgiveness has no value.  C. S. Lewis said, “forgiveness does not mean excusing.”

 “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.” (Ephesians 1:7)

Thank you for reading my blog.  I would love to hear your comments or thoughts on this issue!