Blame Entertainment, Then Tell Your Own Story

I recently read “Primetime Propaganda: The True Hollywood Story of How the Left Took Over Your TV” by Ben Shapiro. He outlines the history of TV, and the messages we see in primetime. As I finished the book I was reminded of the power of store to impact people, and that the author/screenwriter/director/producer’s worldview is the basis for the stories we see in entertainment.

And that is why Western Civilization is where it is today.

The power of story.

Story takes the worldview of the creator/author of the story and makes it into something people will accept, ingest, maybe even adopt. Messages couched in entertainment are more powerful than speeches. A speech can reinforce an attitude or belief, but it will rarely change a mind. But a heartfelt story can go a long way toward changing a heart, and a mind.

A long time ago I took a class on Persuasion. One of the things I learned was that some attitudes and beliefs are harder to change that others. Moving from the position of not liking wheat bread to liking wheat bread is much easier than moving from liking gay marriage to not liking gay marriage. Attitude and beliefs that are more central to who people are, that people identify as self defining, are much harder to change. And they take a long time to change.

I’ve been alive long enough to have seen some of those deep attitudes and beliefs change. There are things that are accepted today that never would have been accepted 20 years ago. And that’s not completely a bad thing. Some things needed to change. But not everything.

Going back to Shapiro’s book, the people that make our entertainment, that tell the stories our culture consumes, primarily have one set of values. They have very similar world views, and their stories reflect that. Their characters interact with the world based on how they see it. When they come into a conflict, they act, and the worldview of the creator is shown to be true in the show.

It’s not a conspiracy. It’s natural. Jesus never told a story that wasn’t based in his worldview. I will never tell one that’s not based in mine. You could claim that sometimes they go out of their way to put characters in situations that undermine an opposing worldview, but Christian story tellers do that all the time. That’s what evangelistic films are. Over time, our culture is gradually adopting and accepting the worldview presented in our stories.

If we Christians ever hope to influence our culture, to see people with a biblical worldview, to see the Gospel spread, it’s true… we must learn to be great storytellers. But things don’t stop there. We must take those skills and put them to use in entertainment. If you want to change the world, don’t go into politics. In today’s politically landlocked climate, legislation doesn’t change the world. Entertainment changes the world, or at least Western Civilization.

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What Happens When We Lose an Entire Generation?

If you have been reading my blog any time in the last couple of months then you know that I am passionate about reaching younger generations with religious TV and video content. If you’ve been traveling in Christian circles, you’ve probably heard about the books “UnChristian” and “You Lost Me” by David Kinnaman. We are losing an entire generation from the faith.

Scary thought. I was thinking about how bad this would be, trying to imagine what life would be like in a truly post-Christian era. Then I realized, I don’t have to just guess.

What happens when we lose an entire generation?

Read Judges, 1 & 2 Kings, and 1 & 2 Chronicles.

Those books are primarily focused on the leaders of the Israelites and the prophets of God, but you can see some of how their civilization was affected by deviation from God’s path.

Most of the book of Judges reads like a case study in how not to follow God. When David comes on the scene, we see a flawed man, who is ultimately a man after God’s own heart. His children, on the other hand, get into sin, and many end up dead. So Solomon becomes king. And he does great work for God.

Then we get to 1 Kings 11.

Now King Solomon loved many foreign women, along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which the Lord had said to the people of Israel, “You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods.” Solomon clung to these in love. He had 700 wives, who were princesses, and 300 concubines. And his wives turned away his heart. For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and did not wholly follow the Lord, as David his father had done. 1 Kings 11:1-6 ESV

Solomon had a problem with women. It’s likely that a good number of his 700 wives and 300 concubines were arrangements for political power and gain. But Solomon “clung” to them. And they influenced him to turn away from God.

So the rest of Solomon’s days were filled with war and adversity. Jeroboam was tapped to lead what would become the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Rehoboam, Solomon’s heir, made some stupid mistakes and the Kingdom divided. Rehoboam got Judah and the tribe of Benjamin. Jeroboam led the other 10 tribes. The first thing Jeroboam does is set up a couple of golden calves for the people to worship, because he was afraid the tribes would go back to Rehoboam the king of Judah.

And he never repented:

After this thing Jeroboam did not turn from his evil way, but made priests for the high places again from among all the people. Any who would, he ordained to be priests of the high places. And this thing became sin to the house of Jeroboam, so as to cut it off and to destroy it from the face of the earth. 1 Kings 13:33-34 ESV

And for generation after generation we see words like these: “He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and walked in the way of Jeroboam and in his sin which he made Israel to sin”

And Rehoboam and the people of Judah? They didn’t do much better. 2 Chronicles 12 says that he abandoned the law of the Lord, and all Israel with him. In 1 Kings 14:

And Judah did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and they provoked him to jealousy with their sins that they committed, more than all that their fathers had done. For they also built for themselves high places and pillars and Asherim on every high hill and under every green tree, and there were also male cult prostitutes in the land. They did according to all the abominations of the nations that the Lord drove out before the people of Israel. 1 Kings 14:22-24 ESV

Generation after generation, kings would lead the people into sin, and God would send prophets, and some would repent, and then they would go back to their old ways. Same bad stuff happened for generations.

There was one glimmer of hope. Josiah, grandson of Manasseh, arguably the worst king of Judah ever (Even though he did finally repent in 2 Chronicles 33. maybe that made an impression on his grandson.), did right in the eyes of the Lord. His guys found the Book of Law, and in 2 Kings 23 Josiah makes an honest effort to clean up Judah. He tears down the altars and high laces to other gods. He restores the Passover.

This is a perfect example of what happens when you legislate morality. He made Judah look good, but the people’s hearts were not changed. If you want to change someone’s mind, you must change their heart.

You can see that the people had not changed because even Josiah’s own son, Jehoahaz, didn’t keep to the ways of the Lord. Within a generation after this Judah goes into captivity. Josiah was Judah’s last hope.

You can see a lot of really bad stuff happened to Judah. But there is hope… God did bring the people of Israel through this. Because he promised to. After a couple of generations in exile a remnant comes back, and Israel is restored. He did not promise to do this for America or any other nation. But He can do it.

What will happen when the church loses an entire generation? It won’t be pretty, but the church will still go on. Nations may fall, the world may suffer, but the church will continue.

“…and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18

God Has a Plan, and Its Better Than Yours

Last week God showed me once again why my ideas and plans are nothing when compared to his.

I attended the ICVM conference of Christian Media Professionals. There were tons of film makers and actors and distributors represented. I had never been to the conference before. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I knew a couple of things I wanted to accomplish. The conference, as I experienced it, was primarily about spiritual renewal and networking. there were some great moments of worship, prayer, and message. And there were some structured and unstructured times for networking with people who do what you do, or can work with you in what you do. It was a great week.

One thing God kept hitting me over the head with was that his plans are better than my plans.his plans work, my plans often do not.

One thing I was excited about was meeting potential distributors for the show. I had made contact with one such company several months ago, and had even set up a meeting. I went into the conference expecting that meeting would be the most important business result of the time I spent there.

I could not have been more wrong.

The meeting was fine. They were friendly, and seemed somewhat interested in my show, promised to watch it. But they didn’t have a lot of experience in internet (Netflix/Hulu/AmazonPrime) delivery. There is still the very real possibility of working with them in the future, but there are other distributors as well.

After the meeting I was mulling over what had happened, and what I had been expecting. Doing some self examination, if you will, when Jim West, who owns Legacy TV walked by. We spoke about a show I produce on a contract basis which airs on his network, we talked about the NRB a while, and then he asked what I was doing now.

By the end of the conversation he had agreed to air episodes of Peculiar on his network in the Fall. 46 million homes. 234 affiliates.

Now, I am still committed to delivering the show through the internet. I still want it on a streaming service like Netflix. But if someone wants to broadcast my show to 46 million homes, I will be happy to let them. Shows should start running mid October. (Assuming we can get everything done. We are still raising funds. You can be a part of it!)

If you had told me prior to the conference that by its end I would have had an agreement to broadcast the show, I would have laughed. I wasn’t going in to talk with networks. But here we are. This is a hard thing for me.

I plan things. I think strategically, I work out logistics. In many cases, these are good traits. But not when my plans get off track from God’s direction.

Toward the end of the week Bill Muir spoke out of John 15, and the importance of abiding in Him. When we as branches, move away from the vine, we wither. When we stay with the vine, we grow. Running ahead of God’s timing will result in mistakes and disappointment. Waiting for his timing is always better.

As I finished the week I write this down: Biggest thing I’ve learned here- God has a plan, and it’s better than yours, so deal with it.

Why You Should Support the Peculiar Kickstarter Campaign

I’m talking to you, not your friends. They should support it, but you should, too.

Let me tell you why.

1. It’s a good show. Look, I know it’s not the best show ever made, but it’s good and will get better. The concept is good. With more money we can be a lot better. Be something more people want to see. Something you want to see.

2. It’s a good cause. If you have read my blog you know why I’m doing this. Religious broadcasting it doomed. It’s got a shelf life. We need to figure out how to do something else, quickly. In 10 years it may be too late. In 20 years it will be way too late. Whole generations are being raised with no knowledge of what real faith in Christ is like.

3. There are some great rewards. Who doesn’t want a T Shirt with a big Peculiar stamp on it? Free episode downloads of the show? Or if you’ve got deeper pockets, lunch with me where you can ask anything you want about the show, or your own walk on role.

4. It’s easier than you think. Got an Amazon account? Then you are set to go. Got $1? I’ll take it. $5, 10, 15? Any amount. It all helps. Don’t think that a $1 pledge won’t help. It will. Can you give a $1 to a good cause?

So, click the link and pledge, already! I need you.

Kickstarter Progress

18% funded. And we finally made the front page of a featured section of the site. It’s just the location section, but at least we are not buried three pages down.

I’d feel more comfortable if we were at 38% not 18%. It’s a short campaign. I’d love to get ahead of the curve. A lot of projects get to 20%. Not a lot of projects get to 30%.

I’m working on a couple of ideas if we don’t make the goal, but I’m praying for success now.

Peculiar T Shirt and Ad Campaign

I really want one of those T Shirts. A big “Peculiar” stamped on the front and the show web site on the back.

They are one of the rewards for the show’s Kickstarter project. Going on now.

In order to get some more attention to the project, I started a couple of ad campaigns on Facebook. Anyone connected with the show’s fan page, or connected to someone connected to the page, can see the ad talking about the shirt. And then see that the shirt is currently only available by pledging $25 or more on the Kickstarting project.

Peculiar Season 1 Kickstarter is Live

I hate asking people for money.

But, will you support my show?

Even if you can’t right now, will you look at the project on Kickstarter and share it on Facebook and twitter? Or email your friends?

I need your help to make this happen. You, or someone you know may be the key to reaching our goal, and getting the show going for the Fall.

Here’s the link: http://kck.st/N4OkCc

Please take a minute to read about the project. Please prayerfully consider supporting it. Please let your friends know about it.