November 28, 2006

The Degradation of Society's Morals

Filed under: Random Stuff — Bob Gifford @ 10:09 pm

Two totally different items crossed my computer screen today, and in a way that’s not readily apparent, I think they’re related.

First, let me say that I really don’t follow celebrity gossip. Really, I don’t. I do read regularly, though, and occasionally something in Salon’s “The Fix” celebrity news column will catch my eye, and once I start reading, my eyes automatically move through the page. It was in this way that I stumbled across this:

ABC News online is trying to answer some of the most pressing questions of the day: “Not so long ago, when a society woman flashed a hint of leg from beneath her petticoat, onlookers gasped. Today, when Britney Spears displays her private parts to the paparazzi, the world points and laughs. Spears is the latest star to give people a glimpse of what’s usually covered up, a trend that asks the question: What value, if any, does culture place on modesty today?” (ABC News)

I couldn’t believe what I was reading, so I clicked through, and after googling a bit, came to find out that of late Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, and now Britney Spears have taken to wearing mini-skirts sans underwear, and rather gracelessly exiting their limos in full view of the paparazzi. The documentary evidence, photographs that should make their mothers faint away from the sheer shame of it all, are freely available on the web. (You’ll have to find the pics yourself, although it’s not hard.)

Now, I already held Lohan, Hilton and Spears in pretty low esteem, but I found that my opinion of them could, in fact, go quite a bit lower. Still, I had to stop to think what I felt about this. My knee jerk reaction was that this is one more step in the coarsening of our culture, a path that will ultimately lead to a complete disintegration of any semblance of public morality. But then I remembered the streaking fad back in the 70’s. While I never did, some of my best friends engaged in some good natured streaking, and these friends are now respected doctors, lawyers and bankers. So maybe this recent flashing phenomenon deserves, dare I say, a second look. Maybe it’s just another passing trend that will soon be forgotten (although not only will these women never be respected doctors, lawyers or bankers, I doubt they’ll ever be respected period).

Let me now switch to the second item that caught my eye today. Rev. Tim Simpson from the Christian Alliance for Progress sent out an email with the following:

The Christian Alliance for Progress deplores the release of the video game Left Behind: Eternal Forces in which the game’s object is to convert or kill any who stand in opposition to the ideology that the game and its companion book series seek to promote. We urge the game’s sponsor, Tyndale House, a Christian publishing business which used to be concerned with sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, to recall its values and withdraw its support for such an un-Christian enterprise as this.


[R]ather than seeking to close the gap between neighbors, as Jesus did in his ministry, the game’s purpose is to drive a wedge between people, teaching teenagers that what God intends is for them to slaughter those who do not share their beliefs. Because of the predominance of Christian fundamentalists on television and radio in the past generation, the American people have been left with the false impression that this strange way of interpreting the Bible is what Christians have always believed and taught. We are here today to challenge that view and to name it for the error that it is.

More on this, including an online petition I’d urge you to sign, can be found here.

So here’s a question: which of these items represents a greater threat to the moral character of our society? Should we be more concerned with a) some marginally talented celebrities displaying their genitalia along with poor judgment and sub-par intelligence, or b) a video game marketed to youth that promotes murdering people that don’t accept their fundamentalist religion, a Christianity that distorts the meaning of Scripture?

I vote b.


  1. I vote B, myself.

    But then, I think that flashing one’s genitals to the paparazzi is more juvenile and stupid than morally outrageous. Indeed, I suspect the only reason these girls do it is because of the reactions they get and the pleasure they get out of the thought of being “naughty.” I suspect that if everyone failed to give any reaction to such stunts, the girls would be inclined to quit and find something else to do in an atempt to titillate and/or enrage everyone.

    Comment by Jarred — November 29, 2006 @ 8:42 am

  2. I don’t see why we have to vote. It’s all bad. The badness simply depends on who and how many take up gauntlet. How many young girls will be affected, how many boys, by the trampish behavior made ‘good’ and popular. How many will be swayed by the video game. I need a graph of some sort to decide.

    Where is St. Dominic Savio when we need him?

    Comment by sister mary martha — November 29, 2006 @ 5:36 pm

  3. Jarred – agreed.

    Sister Mary Martha – you’re right, of course, we don’t have to vote. I wish I could generate some kind of graph, but I’m afraid we’re left to make our own subjective judgments. Mine is that glorifying a violent cleansing of those that don’t adopt your religion, narrowly defined, is far, far worse.

    And thanks for the St. Dominic Savio reference…not being Catholic, I had to look him up. See here.

    Comment by Bob — November 29, 2006 @ 5:48 pm

  4. Maybe if our society didn’t have such ridiculous hangups about sexuality and about the human body, no one would care about what Britney Spears does. Consider another recent example: it shows how screwed up our priorities are that a little flash of Janet Jackson’s breast a couple of years ago brought on massive new censorship laws, while the real obscenity in this country of millions of people without health care is just considered par for the course. (For the record, I don’t consider women’s breasts obscene anyway.) Britney Spears’s hijinx don’t hold a candle to the real obscenities taking place in our society, and it is ridiculous to even put them in the same category of behavior. The difference is one of night and day.

    Comment by Mystical Seeker — November 30, 2006 @ 9:21 am

  5. Your blog and my blog made Reese’s pieces today.

    Comment by sister mary martha — December 1, 2006 @ 3:22 pm

  6. For myself, what is a little more benign about Spears, et al, is that they claim nothing
    for themselves. The Left Behind Game claims to be a depiction about what Christianity – the
    faith I also proclaim — should be about, and I have real problems with that.

    Very few people will think that SPears, et al, represent what is best about our society and
    what we should aspire to. But many – younger and older — buy into the idea that Left Behind
    represents what Christianity should be and what we should aspire to.

    Comment by Pastor David — December 4, 2006 @ 8:28 am

  7. I vote b.

    I was duped by these so called bible teachers years ago.

    This game does not promote the gosel, only a sense of superior attitude among those who hold this false doctrine.

    In the end I am no different than Lohan, or Spears. I AM A SINNER TOO.

    We are not saved by our (so called good)works, or how we dress.

    It is through CHRIST ALONE.

    Comment by Reformed Catholic — December 4, 2006 @ 10:39 am

  8. Contrary to what you have heard, the Left Behind game does not feature the brutal murder of those who disagree. I’m not a proponent of Left Behind or its theology, but I like facts to be straight.

    Comment by anonymiss — December 7, 2006 @ 12:28 pm

  9. From their website:

    In the initial missions, there is little emphasis on physical warfare and gamers are introduced to powers of influence which result in a battle for the hearts and minds of people. As missions progress, there are no ‘objectives’ to cause war physically. However, physical warfare results when the player is required to defend against the physical forces of evil; led by the Global Community Peacekeepers.

    The intro video I watched a week or two ago (which seems to be missing from their website now, so I can’t pass on a link), the Tribulation Force roves through NY City carrying guns. They can shoot the Global Community Peacekeepers, but lose “spirit points” if they do so. I guess you’re only supposed to shoot the GCP in self-defense. Of course the meaning of self-defense gets a little blurred when a large armed group approaches the GCP — small wonder they might start shooting.

    It’s all kind of scary that the game depicts a band of Christians wandering through NY City carrying guns, and they are supposed to be the “good” guys.

    Comment by Bob — December 9, 2006 @ 8:32 pm

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