On this edition of "The 3", my week-in-review feature, I begin by highlighting the preponderance of cultural messages emerging out of a large pop culture convention, whic includes some Christian messages. Plus, one dominant cultural message: the acceptance of so-called same-sex marriages, takes root in New York this weekend. And, the top story involves the rejection of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, now allowing gays to serve openly in the armed forces.
3 - Pop culture gathering in San Diego contains faith thread
It might not be an event that is on the radar of a vast number of Americans, and it's newsworthiness might be overshadowed by the debt ceiling debate or the hot summer temperatures, but the wealth of messages being launched into the cultural discussion from Comic-Con International in San Diego is significant. The estimated attendance of some 125,000 people are enthusiasts of comic books, graphic novels, film, animation, and other forms of communication. Christians can be highly effective in using these forms of media to explore spiritual truth.
In fact, the Christian Comic Arts Society had representation on several panel discussions, and was involved in distributing copies of a book called, "Marvelous Myths: Marvel Superheroes and Everyday Faith", taking Marvel heroes and examining the faith aspects of their respective stories. According to The Christian Post, the producers of the cable TV hit, "Dexter", were discussing how their character, a serial killer, will be grappling with some issues of faith in the upcoming season.
Some of the ways Christian communicators used this gathering to explore ways to inject the Christian message into these popular forms of media are found in this report from Frontgate Media.
One last thought: the idea of the comic book or movie superhero gives us opportunities to examine and discuss matters of faith. We can ask ourselves about what makes up the character of a hero, or even use these classic encounters as illustrations of the triumph of good over evil, which in many cases can cause us to think about triumph of Christ, through the cross, over the power of Satan, who comes to steal, kill, and destroy. The world is looking for heroes, and ultimately, we serve the most glorious hero of all, the classic victor, whose sacrifice and courage made it possible for us to triumph over sin and death. The heroes we revere so often demonstrate the character qualities that can bring hope in a world that can be full of disappointment, qualities we can emulate in our own lives as we seek to radiate the character of Christ.
2 - New York gay marriage law takes effect
The law authorizing same-sex marriages to be performed in the state of New York took effect this weekend, and hundreds of such unions have apparently been performed in the state, or will be performed by the end of the day on Sunday.
Here is The Christian Post's report on the events in the Empire State.
The National Organization for Marriage scheduled events across the state, basically claiming that the politicians responsible for the new law ignored the will of the people. There is even talk of a possible referendum vote in the state on the issue. New York became the sixth state to legalize gay marriage, the fifth to do so by an act of the state legislature; the other was Iowa, where the courts recognized this so-called "right" to same-sex marriage. Some 31 states have a constitutional amendment against gay marriage, all decided by a statewide vote.
And, despite the religious exemptions granted by Governor Cuomo in order to seize votes for the measure, conscience protection for clerks who would be called on to issue the marriage licenses was apparently not part of the bargain. 2 clerks refusing to certify these unions have resigned, and a special fund, the Courage Fund, has been set up to aid clerks who exercise their consciences.
1 - Administration, military certify end of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"
The newest member of President Obama's Cabinet, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, joined with the President to declare that the repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy regarding homosexuals serving openly in the military is certified. The policy will become fully implemented in 60 days.
Here is the report from CitizenLink.
The repeal of the policy has been implemented, despite the cries of retired chaplains who feel that current military chaplains will have to provide counsel and affirm behavior that they believe violates Scripture, and the advice of members of Congress and some military leaders, including the 3 out of 4 service chiefs, who are not convinced that the repeal will not affect the moral and effectiveness of our troops. There was a survey taken of some 400,000 military members last year, the Pentagon issued a conclusion that “the risk of repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell to overall military effectiveness is low.” However, among those who responded, 70 percent of personnel deployed and in combat since Sept. 11, 2001, said having an openly gay or lesbian unit member would have a negative, very negative or mixed impact on the unit’s effectiveness to complete its mission.
The whole repeal process has been rather dubious - some areas of concern that were documented in the survey were apparently ignored, and the bill itself was passed in a lame-duck session of Congress. No doubt, the current Congress, especially considering the makeup of the House, would not have voted for repeal. So now, with the implementation process in full operation, the consequences will become clearer, and some chaplains and military members will be making some critical career decisions, as the use of the U.S. military for the purpose of social experimentation and the advancement of a political agenda passes a critical milestone.