In reading a Christianity Today article, I found it interesting, but not surprising, that many in the media have categorized evangelical Christians as white, suburban, American, from the South, and Republican. Evangelicals in my church are African American, Hispanic, Scandinavian, Asian, Indian, and Unaffiliated or Democrat voters.
Instead of asking evangelicals what they believe, the media makes assumptions about evangelicals that are not true. A friend and mentor told me numerous times, “one should never, ever assume.” He’s right, of course, but we all do it. And although, we prefer to believe we aren’t influenced by the media—the truth is—we are.
We often find ourselves impacted by celebrities or well-known personalities. We may relate to their opening remarks, without looking for the substance of their message. Oprah Winfrey often refers to her faith, but she tends to send mixed messages to her audience. For example, I read a quote from Winfrey that says:
“Failure is God’s way of moving you in another direction.” Then in another quote, “You alone are enough.” Interjecting God in her advice to others, but then telling them to think like a queen, may be interesting, charming, and fun, but it damages women whose faith is wavering.
Aligning ourselves with popular cultural phenomena is tempting, but we should identify ourselves based on our belief system and self-awareness. What we believe about ourselves determines who we are, not what others think we are. On the other hand, the opportunity to learn about each other and what we believe in doesn’t happen very often, so we don’t really know much about anyone but ourselves. Thought provoking discussions are almost extinct, because we’ve lost the art of accepting each other as we are.
Our world demands that we have the last word. So many times, we are timid and afraid to challenge the status quo. The clanging noise of people talking at the same time on television news programs to make their point, replicates itself in everyday society. Many times, we interrupt, don’t listen, or suffer from distractions such as loud music, television screens in seating areas of restaurants, and high pitched voices. Perhaps we’ve been indoctrinated into believing that normal conversation is blasé due to inattention as people work their phones. Instead of looking across the table during lunch at our favorite restaurant, we sense competition from an inanimate object—the cell phone—instead of really listening to one another.
Some of us are fortunate enough to spend time in a quiet place and have meaningful conversations with other people on a regular basis. My weekly writers group is my respite from the demands of society’s new ways of communicating. I pray that you have something similar in your life to keep you grounded.