Youth Culture Window
I always find it intriguing to catch even a glimpse of how the world views Christians. Unfortunately, TV and movies have an influential role helping people form their opinions and stereotypes. And how often do you see a Christian in a positive light in today's media?
NBC's Friday Night Lights was one of my favorite shows last season. In a recent past e-Zine, I shared my 2 cents on the show, admiring its realistic glimpse of our youth culture today.
But then Season 2 arrived.
I must admit, I'm a little bit disappointed so far. Not only has Coach Taylor's daughter Julie turned rogue (not unrealistic by any means), but many of the other characters we have grown to know and love are morphing into something different. And to make matters worse, ex-cheerleader Lyla Garrity has apparently "accepted Jesus into her life."
Why is this a bad thing, you ask?
Because Lyla isn't like any "Christian" that you or I know... she's more like Mandy Moore's portrayal of the militant and hateful Hilary Faye in the 2004 movie Saved (my 2 cents on that film here).
Once again, Christians are portrayed as self righteous snobs in the media. Sadly, this stereotype, although exaggerated, is based on true feelings. I talked about this stigma in depth in my book Do They Run When They See You Coming, where many of us appear like the girl on the cover of the book. Dan Kimball also chimed in on the issue with his recent insightful book They Like Jesus But Not the Church.
Is this something new? No. But negative feelings toward Christians and the church are growing even more pervasive with this younger generation. Recent studies agree: Generation Y (this generation of young people born after 1981) "exhibit a greater degree of criticism toward Christianity than did previous generations... Common negative perceptions include that present-day Christianity is judgmental (87%), hypocritical (85%), and old-fashioned (78%)." (Barna, September 24, 2007. Read that entire study here.)
Bottom line: The world doesn't want what we have, because they don't want to be what we are.
It's sad, because I've found that when people see Jesus clearly they are drawn to Him. Jesus is attractive, thirst-quenching, and unexplainably fulfilling. Often, we as believers have just done a good job of 'blocking the view.'
Friday Night Lights' character Lyla, and Saved's character Hilary do a great job of 'blocking the view' of Jesus. But these characters are just fictional stereotypes. Hollywood only exploits such stereotypes because they strike a chord with people, reminding them of individuals they have actually met. The joke would cease to be funny if the stereotype was inaccurate... and that's entirely up to us. Reversing the stereotype would take a lot of people looking a lot more like Jesus and a lot less like Pharisees.
Wouldn't that be nice? Christ's bride (His church) looking a lot more like Him? Hollywood would just have to start poking fun at someone else.
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