Welcome to the Big Picture Podcast. I’m Joel Fieri and this podcast seeks to begin and hopefully sustain a conversation about current trends, ideas and issues in the Church and greater society.
It’s time again on the podcast to check in with the our friend, “The Late ‘Boomer” to see how he’s doing in his efforts to clean up the societal mess created by his generation, the Baby Boomers.
Now when you talk about ‘boomers, you don’t go far without stumbling over one of their slogans. “Make Love, Not War”, “Never Trust Anyone Over 30’ “Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out”.
Boomers had a lot of slogans. Most of them represented a cultural “about face”, or more like an “in your face” from our parents values, lifestyles and standards. Plus they looked good painted on the side of a VW van and made good signs to hold up from the mud pit at the local “be-in” in the park (and if you don’t know what a “be-in” is, you’ll have to Google it).
Of the slogans I’ve just mentioned, none really stuck around or long in our culture. “Make Love, Not War” only lasted through Vietnam, “Never Trust Anyone Over 30” lasted until the ‘boomers started turning 30, and Timothy Leary’s call to “Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out” was pretty well stamped out by the crack cocaine epidemic and the war on drugs, and no self-respecting ‘boomer would tell their children to “drop out”. It would mean they couldn’t get into the prestigious college of their parents’ choice, which guaranteed their place in the up-scale establishment. Ironic, isn’t it?
But one slogan did take hold for the long haul, and we see the effects of it still today. You don’t hear it actually stated anymore, but it’s all over our society, and that slogan is “If It Feels Good, Do It”.
Now, right here I could really go on about the hedonistic side of this, which would be obvious and appropriate. Casual sex, drug use, pornography and all the excesses that go with the “Feel Good, Do It” culture have been devastating, in the big picture and in countless individual lives.
But I wanted to put a little different edge to it that goes beyond just hedonism.
What the feel good philosophy has done in our society is made us slaves to our emotions. Putting sex and drugs aside, we’ve let positive emotions become the guiding force behind morality instead of a sense of right and wrong. We don’t discipline our children because it doesn’t feel good – to us or them. It feels good to have a big house with a flat screen TV in each bedroom, so we’ll fudge on our income-stated loan a little. It feels good to blast your horn and give the finger to the moron who cut you off, or to shout down and cuss out a fan of the other team, or that guy who dares to disagree with you on politics. I feel unhappy with my job, at least for right now, so I’m secretly looking for another on company time and then leaving to go with a competitor. And so on.
Whatever makes us feel good, we do. What makes us feel bad, we don’t do.
We’ve essentially made dopamine our drug of choice.
The most obvious example of how destructive this way of doing things is would be the financial melt-down of a few years ago, where so many obvious warning signs and tried and true financial practices were completely ignored because people and politicians were caught up in cheap money, big programs, bigger houses, expensive cars and vacations they knew they couldn’t afford, but that felt good to have, especially if your neighbor didn’t.
As one writer put it, we thought we were rich enough to be stupid.
In true ‘boomer fashion, this all flew in the face of our parent’s and grandparent’s ethos of loyalty and discipline, saving for a rainy day, paying cash and sacrificing now for the payoff later.
And we’ve passed this attitude on to our kids, too. They see mom and dad with no impulse control, financially or maritally or professionally, and since they’ve never really been disciplined or restricted in their impulses, the cycle continues – until that rainy day our grandparents knew about suddenly shows up.
And it will, because nobody’s rich enough to be stupid.
So how do we turn this around before hard times turn it around for us?
Well I don’t really know exactly. But I will say this, it has to start with a simple question, and it’s a question I think our whole society, from the top on down, has to somehow ask itself. And that question is: “Would I rather feel good about doing what I know is wrong, or feel bad about doing what I know is right?”
Sounds simple enough, but if we could arrange our priorities to do what’s right despite an immediate negative emotional reaction, our society would be transformed. Politically we’d get over what’s been called “The Tragedy of American Compassion”: our well-meaning big-government programs that have devastated our country’s finances and sense of community. Our families would be saved from the onslaught of pop-culture, pornography and substance abuse, not to mention marital dysfunction. Our children would have a grasp on the meaning of adulthood and self-restraint in a society that took a long-term view of personal responsibility and delayed gratification. But most of all, it would convey a respect and value for each other as individuals, not as objects to be used and exploited for our temporary gain or instant gratification.
In the long run, and in the big picture, THAT would ultimately feel great!
And ‘til next time, that is today’s mop-up from The Late ‘Boomer!
In closing, it’s time for the Great Cloud Of Witnesses, the segment of our podcast where we meet and hear the stories of those who have given, and some who are still giving, their lives by faith in the promises of God, and of whom the world was and is not worthy (if you don’t know that reference, please check out Hebrews chapter 11-12 in your Bible).
Today’s witness is Chinese missionary Bob Fu, who, along with his wife and house church family, braved torrential rain, mud and possible prison to get to church. Here is his story:
Chinese professor Bob Fu and his wife held secret Bible studies in remote villages. The inhabitants’ hunger for God’s Word never ceased to amaze him.
One memorable trip began with a twelve hour bus ride on which a church leader stood in front of the broken window for hours to keep the rain out so that Fu could rest. The next night, they drove a small van on rough, muddy roads until the van got stuck; then they drove a tractor for hours in the pouring rain until the tractor also got stuck. After that, they walked all night by the light of the moon, slipping and falling in the muddy fields.
They arrived early the next morning to a warm welcome. Villagers began arriving at the house church to pray for two hours before the service. Some had walked fifty miles just to hear God’s Word. The house had no chairs, so the church members sat on rocks or pieces of wood. In this area, they had another blessing: It was too difficult for the police to follow. For a few days, they could worship freely!
Each had overcome extreme travel conditions to worship, and none considered it a sacrifice. They just had a desire like King David, who was drawn to worship with every fiber of his being.
For those in restricted nations, church is not optional; it is essential. In contrast, in free nations many people make up their minds each week whether or not they will attend church. Do they have time? Is it raining? Would they rather sleep late? What’s the sermon topic anyway? Shamefully, we often run through a gamut of questions trying to decide whether church is worth our time. For David and others, going to meet with God was a no-brainer. In fact, they would not let anything keep them from it. When is the last time you asked God to give you a desire for worship like this? Ask him today, and make plans to attend church this week and meet with God.
Now obviously I picked today’s witnesses, Bob Fu and the faithful Chinese believers, who are hereby nominated to The Great Cloud Of Witnesses, because their story so contrasts with our “feel good” mindset of today. The world, us included, is not worthy of them and their witness.
If you enjoyed this week’s Big Picture Podcast, please go to my web site at gobigpicture.net and also check out our other podcasts and points of view on the E-Squared Media Network at e2medianetwork.com. Wherever you go, leave a few comments and tell your friends, and even your pastor about us. See you next time on the Big Picture podcast.