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Friday, October 6, 2017

Hollywood: Locked and Loaded

Hollywood: Locked and Loaded
As we again reel from another mass shooting, angry debates about gun control fill the media air. And again I am mystified why the reasonable suggestion—that private citizens should not own guns designed to kills lots of people quickly—is considered so extreme. I'm not going to argue that point here, in part because the deeper issue is the culture of violence that permeates our society, a culture perpetrated by the very industry that shouts for gun control: Hollywood.

The reason for the hypocrisy, according to an investigative piece from last year in The Hollywood Reporter is this: Hollywood makes a lot of money off of films in which gun violence is glorified. Hollywood gives the more radical wing of the NRA more publicity than it could hope for, so that the "two industries that position themselves as mortal enemies have a lucrative, symbiotic relationship." Periodically, members of the industry question Hollywood's glorification of gun violence—see this piece in Variety from last year—but as far as I can tell, there is zero movement to do anything about it. What message is being sent, how many minds and hearts are being catechized, how many of us are being shaped by plot after plot in which the solution to the conflict is people shooting other people, often with increasingly exotic weapons of tremendous firepower?

It's why I like Sara Stewart's suggestion in the New York Post of a couple of years ago: "Hey Hollywood, try banning guns from movies for a year." I'm no pacifist, and I believe in the right to own guns, for self-protection, for hunting, for sport shooting. And I'm no advocate of violence being removed from films—if violence characterizes our existence, it needs to be portrayed on the screen. But not glorified. And certainly not in film after film after film. And year after year after year. It's hard to believe that saturating our imaginations with glorified gun violence does not play a significant role in gun violence in America. Really, really hard to believe.

ON A MORE POSITIVE NOTE: Check out this week's Quick to Listen to hear how pastor David Uth of First Baptist Orlando talks about how his church reached out to the many victims of the Orlando shooting last year. Pastor Uth is a great storyteller and great believer in the power of the gospel to shine forth in the midst of and after great tragedy.
What to Make of Hugh Hefner
About all I can thank Hugh Hefner for is allowing me to see for the first time the beauty of the female form unclothed when my friends and I (we were about nine at the time) discovered a discarded box of Playboys in an orchard. Other than that, I can't even say that later as an adult I read the admittedly fine journalism that sometimes graced its pages.

My friend Andy Crouch has extolled the power of culture making. Hefner is an example of how culture is more potent than politics in shaping a society. Two pieces that reflect on his troubling legacy are "How Hugh Hefner Commercialized Sex" and "Hugh Hefner's Hollow Victory." If you only have time for one, read the latter, a brilliant analysis by Read Mercer Schuchardt. It's called a "CT Classic" for a reason.
Earthquakes Don't Kill People—Buildings Do
There is almost no such thing as a "natural disaster" according to this philosopher: "Natural disasters are supposed to have been caused entirely by forces outside human control. They were inevitable. No one can be held responsible." But he argues that in most instances, there is some element of human decision that actually causes immense human suffering (e.g., a city letting people build on flood plains without planning for drainage in case of a major storm). His point is simple: "Recognizing a disaster as man-made initiates a search into the bad decisions that made it possible. Part of that is holding relevant agents responsible for culpable negligence and deterring such negligence in future. But it is also an opportunity to ensure that systematically better choices are made in future."
IQ—Don't Worry, Be Happy
This is for parents anxious about their children's native intelligence—or readers anxious about their own. The author—who writes a lot about IQ research—explains in what ways IQ is predictive and what ways it is not. As he summarizes: "IQ is very useful and powerful for research purposes. It's not nearly as interesting for you personally." Meaning, people with relatively low IQs can become rock stars in areas like science and chess. Hard work and discipline still play a large role in one's success.

(Another option is not even to bother. Take me for example: I refuse to take an IQ test. It's a lose-lose for me. If I'm shown to have a high IQ, it would fill me with pride. If low, I'd be in despair. So instead I just lie to myself and imagine I have a high IQ to feel good about myself, thus avoiding pride or despair—but not self-deception! So on second thought, don't take me as an example. …)"
Grace and peace,
Mark Galli
Mark Galli
Mark Galli
Editor in Chief, Christianity Today

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