Sometimes I think Christians are all about whining. Look at me, I’m a Christian, and here I am whining. Christians seem to spend more time whining about the things they don’t like than actually doing something to remedy what it is they don’t like. The country is in terrible shape. But rather than run for president, we complain about it. Abortion is rampant, but rather than influencing young women who are most likely to turn to abortion, Christians picket and put bumper stickers on their cars.
It’s become most apparent to me in television. Christians are constantly bemoaning the lack of moral choices while channel surfing. There’s never anything decent on, so the whining starts up again (of course the other side of the coin is that although Christians complain, they go ahead and hypocritically watch the crap anyway). But what I find amazing is that when decent alternatives are offered, Christians hardly bat an eye.
Four times a year the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association buys primetime TV slots in virtually every market across the U.S. and Canada. Three of those times they air two, hour-long re-broadcasts of recent Billy Graham Crusades. They usually feature several songs by different artists and then a message by Billy Graham himself. They’re hyped up church services, piped into your living room on the major channels. We’re not talking about the crummy Christian cable or satellite networks here, we’re talking major network affiliates. And once a year the BGEA buys air time to show one of their World Wide Pictures movies, films that quality-wise are very decent made-for-TV movies. Not only does the Association purchase all this expensive air-time four times a year, but they also put in a response mechanism. 1-800 numbers flash on the screen and hundreds of phone counselors are available across the country to talk with people about the basics of Christianity that they just heard about on TV. As if four times wasn’t enough, last week the Association bought a half-hour of late-night TV time on WB stations across the U.S. to air a TV special geared for teens.
So what do all the whiny Christians who have been begging for quality TV do? Little or nothing. A Billy Graham TV special is no cause for commotion. You’d think pastors would be announcing it and every Christian media outlet would be hyping it. And some do. But most don’t. You hear very little about it, and it’s certainly not for lack of trying. The Association spends a hefty amount on advertising, buying television, print, and web ads.
Now of course I work for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Perhaps I’m a jaded, cynical cubical jockey who likes to shake his fist at the masses. And perhaps I do enjoy a good fist-shaking, but this doesn’t just happen with Billy Graham. Big Idea scored a major first by getting local public broadcasting stations to carry their latest Veggie Tales Christmas special. PBS stations all across the country aired a wholly religious holiday special that explained the meaning of Christmas in language a child can understand. In many areas “The Star of Christmas” aired multiple times during the holiday season.
Yet this was hardly a blip on most Christians’ radar. I didn’t see single mention in any Christian media outlets (and I read most of them). Christians didn’t seem to care. No one was writing columns about how Christians are finally getting what we deserve, finally getting the credit from society, finally earning the respect we have whined for for so long.
And if it’s not straight-out ignoring the TV shows we whined so hard for, we decry any advances Christians make. P.O.D. is constantly questioned for selling out their message and for not feigning excitement at a few Dove nominations. They’ve been on TRL, who cares about GMA? Apparently it’s not good enough to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the MTV crowd.
And when Mandy Moore starred as a Christian lead character in a major motion picture, Christians complained that the sinners in the movie were portrayed too realistically. They actually said “shit” and “god damn” a couple times, something you’ll hear in any church parking lot when a parishioner locks their keys in the car.
No, I don’t think Christians actually want to be a well-heard and respected voice of moral clarity in society. We just want to hear ourselves complain.
Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s probably something good on FOX right now.