Revisionist History Channel

I remember when I went to public school growing up, studying history.  I loved it.  However, I was brought up in a Christian household, and though my parents did not care a bit about history, I began to notice that something was missing in what I was being taught at school.  There was simply no mention of the impact of Christianity on Western history.

Of course, the first college world history class I took wasted no time in properly bestowing credit to Western thought on the Greeks, Romans and the Judeo-Christian Ethic- just as it should have been.  It was refreshing to see Christianity getting its due, but more than that, I began to feel that it was ‘history’ itself that was being cheated by the public schools in selectively choosing which parts of the story to leave out.

I learned a term while I was at college that was easily applied to this situation- “Revisionist History”.  It’s not a complement.  It’s would be more correctly described as a disease.  Don’t get me wrong.  There is room for some revisionism.  This is easily seen when we look back at some recent presidents.  Reagan, Clinton and George W. Bush were all reviled during their presidencies, but as Clinton and Reagan are both now being revised in a positive note (and rightly so), so will George W. Bush in a few years.  This would be why you should not write history until at least 20 years after the fact, but that’s a whole different discussion.

The bad form of revisionist history tends to be agenda driven.  A horrible example of this would be C.A. Tripp’s horrible book, The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln which attempts to turn our greatest president into a homosexual based on the flimsiest evidence.

The History Channel over the past four or five years has begun a shift toward this type of agenda based historical programming.  It, and the National Geographic Channel, have both begun to promote shows that are based on flimsy theories with little or no backing and no refutation.  For example, there are a host of shows based on Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code that are presented as if they are based on real, long-standing historical theories rather than new speculations taken from a single man who himself says they are just made up.  Unfortunately, this type of programming seems to be their trend.

Last night, I watched the first episode of Expedition Africa on the History Channel.  In it, a group of quarrelsome idiots have decided to attempt to follow Henry Morton Stanley’s famous expedition to find David Livingstone.

The show has given some of the back-story of both Stanley and Livingstone.  They were both great men who do not enough credit for their accomplishments today.  Livingstone was easily the greater of the two.  I was taken aback when they referred to Livingstone as basically an explorer who wanted to end slavery.  I went to the History Channel website and read to see if they elaborated on him further.  Here it was much the same, except that they referred to him as a ‘former missionary.’

David Livingstone was one of the greatest missionaries to ever live.  Period.  He was also a medical missionary.  He saw Africa, and realized that there was so much intertribal strife that he could either stay in one place and affect only a few people, or he could change the way the whole continent worked, and reach millions of people.  He was a strategic missionary.  His theory was that by exploring Africa, and opening up trade routes, the people there would end up seeing the economic benefit of supporting these trade routes and working together.  This, in turn, would make it easier for missionaries, like himself, to reach more people.

The problem I had was that this program, and the History Channel blatantly ignored Livingstone’s primary life calling and reason for doing the amazing things that he did.  It’s easily done in this case, because most people were only taught in school that Livingstone was an explorer also.  I am not expecting them to turn this into a religious program, but the truth of his motivations could be presented without it sounding preachy.  In the end, by selectively ignoring essential aspects of a story, it is the history and the History Channel’s reputation that suffer.

Miss California Carrie Prejean is Ripped off by a Gay Guy

It seems to me that the next logical step for the Miss USA pageant will be to recruit people of different religions as judges and allow them to ask pointed religious questions of the contestants.  Then, when someone does not hold the same religious views as the judge from Saudi Arabia, for instance, he can look disgusted and dismissive, and we will all say to ourselves, “Boy, she doesn’t have a chance.”  He won’t give her his vote.

There is really no difference.  Allowing Perez Hilton (vomit) to ask such a pointed question about gay marriage knowing that he is strongly opinionated gay man, and that most of Americans hold views contrary to his on the subject, shows that the producers of the program have no regard for their audience or the integrity of the pageant itself (that seems like an oxymoron).

After hearing her answer, Hilton should have disqualified himself from the voting.  But, beyond that, I thought the purpose of the questioning was to see if these young ladies were able to communicate effectively when put on the spot.  If that was the case, it is clear that Carrie Prejean could communicate well, and her honest answer that ‘she was raised to believe that a marriage was between a man and a woman” shows a good amount of personal integrity.

Is a beauty contest the forum for this debate?  Of course not.  When this occurs, the show is reduced to an agenda pushing event.  Imagine Billy Graham on the show as a guest judge.  Do you think people would accept the same question coming from him?

The good news is that Carrie Prejean did more to promote herself by giving this answer than she ever could have done otherwise.  The bad news is that Hollywood has a long memory, and she will have a lot of opportunities lost as a result of sticking to her values.  It’s a shame that we are at the point where it is better to be a fraud and lie, than it is to stand up and support the things you believe in.

The best news for us all is that the shelf-life of these programs is about up, and it will not take a lot more alienating to drive the rest of Miss USA’s audience away.  Good.

God Loves Joel Osteen

I have been following the sham of a trial that was Sharon Brown suing Victoria Osteen for assault.  Many people simply hate ‘religious’ people for some reason.  Sharon Brown sought to cash in on the hatred of these people.  I have no doubt that Victoria Osteen felt that she was not receiving service commensurate the price of her first class ticket, but I also have no doubt that she expressed her feelings to attendants in a way that may have come across as pretentious or licentious.  This being said, as the foreman of the jury correctly said, “My personal point of view (the lawsuit) was a complete waste of time because the incident didn’t rise to any kind of level. I fly all the time. I’ve seen a lot worse than that happen on airplanes.”  This puts the whole thing in perspective. 

The only thing left now is for Continental to fire Sharon Brown.  Here we have an effective, objective determination of what happened.  A jury of her peers, no less, determined that Sharon Brown is a lying person who is willing to go to extremes when attacking a person.  For its own financial safety and the financial security of its customers, they must terminate her.

I was pleased with the verdict, but I was a little disturbed by some of the Osteen comments after the trial was over. I really liked what Joel had to say, “We’ve grown through it and learned to trust God and do the right thing,” he said. “Life is a test. We really have tried to live out our faith, what we teach (at church) and that is love your enemies, do the right thing when the wrong things happen, have a good attitude even when things aren’t going well.”  This is a very appropriate statement and basically put the whole thing into a nice theological nutshell that can be used to teach other Christians how to deal with trying times such as this.

Victoria’s comments, while endearing, were not nearly as theologically sound as most of her husband’s were.  She said, “I expected it because it’s the truth and I know the truth always stands firm.”  If she is speaking in an eternal sense, which I doubt, she is correct, but though this sounds nice, it is hard to support the statement temporally (in the world where we live).  There are two was to determine what God says: Specific Revelation and General Revelation.

Specific Revelation is best described in terms of the Bible itself.  This occurs when God decides to speak to someone directly with a person and reveal Himself or His will.  It is best to find this sort of revelation in the Bible.  At times this may occur when God actually does speak directly to someone, but it is important to remember that anyone can claim that God has spoken to them (see David Koresch).  Always be cautious when someone tells you God told them something he wanted to tell you.

General Revelation is how God speaks through His creation.  God indeed has chosen to reveal himself through his creation.  General Revelation is just as legitimate a form of revelation as Specific Revelation.  If you ever find that God’s General Revelation does not match up with your interpretation of His Specific Revelation, then you probably have a problem with your interpretation of what the Bible is saying.

When I heard Victoria’s statement, I thought, “if the truth is so apparent, and ‘the truth stands firm’, then why would God withhold the truth of the situation involving Caylee Anthony from the world?”  Does God feel that this situation with Victoria Osteen is more important?  I think not.

 Just because a statement sounds good does not mean it is theologically sound.  A good example of this is the old ‘Cleanliness is next to Godliness” adage.  It not anywhere in the Bible in case you were wondering.

The point I am making here is that there is little support for the statement, “the truth always stands firm.”  I looked in twenty different version of the Bible and found that these things ‘stand firm’:  God’s word, God’s love, the house of the righteous, God’s solid foundation, the family of God, and the Earth.  It also states that “…he who stands firm to the end will be saved” in several places.  While it may be argued that several of these verses can be applied to this situation, it is difficult to apply any of them wholesale to a Christian who is standing on principle. 

If anything, the Bible promises persecution for Christians who stand on their beliefs with an accompanying promise of salvation for those who ‘stand firm to the end.’  God’s General Revelation does not support the statement that ‘the truth always stand firm’ in a temporal sense either.  It is a fact that lies are sometime accepted by people as the truth.  Christians have to simply weather this storm, and realize that if they stay true to the end, they will be rewarded (often in eternity).  As the Bible says, “The Sun shines on the righteous and the wicked.”  Osteen’s statement comes off a little as the health, wealth and prosperity doctrine that television preachers are often accused of supporting.

Joel’s statement, “It’s a great vindication and shows us the faithfulness of God,” left me thinking, what about those who have to suffer through the trials and tribulations that Christians are promised on this earth?  Does their inability to find vindication in this life speak to God’s faithlessness?  I am all for praising God, but the Osteen’s myopic response to this situation, could confuse people who experiencing their own trials.