Character is Destiny


Can you read the above?

You better learn fast.

Because in the next century we’re all going to be speaking this language.

As we have moved from a print-based culture to a video-based culture, what we have failed to do is to inject any intelligence into the content of our video. (or hardly any).

Our society does not read. But it watches a hell of a lot of television (or video online). The average American (who, if you read yesterday’s blog does not read at all), watches an astonishing 4.5 hours of TV a day. If we read 4.5 hours a day, we would be a pretty intelligent nation. But we don’t. We watch TV. And TV is pretty much endless dribble.

We have done this for almost 40 years now, and we are going to pay a price for this.

The New York Times reports that we have pretty much debased the intellectual content of the country.

That, among other terrifying bits of information, an astonishing 1 in 5 adult Americans believe that the sun revolves around the earth.

Now the news out of Iowa that Mike Huckabee, a man who does not subscribe to the ‘theory’ of evolution is poised to become the next leader of the Free World. Well, this is hardly surprising in a nation in which half the population (and a breathtaking 70 percent of Republicans) believe that the earth is about 10,000 years old. This apparently puts us on an academic grounding with Turkey.

For anyone who watches a great deal of television, it should come as no surprise that the medium is pretty much content free. What is disturbing is the long term effects of spending 4.5 hours a day watching this thing. We have created an idiot nation. And now we are going to pay the price.

Television did not have to become the ‘boob tube’ that it has become. It is a powerful medium, filled with potential. But we elected to turn over the most powerful medium mankind has ever devised to a handful of people whose primary interest was the maximization of profit and nothing else.

This is fine, but it is hardly in keeping with the spirit of free enterprise. What we did was create a monopoly. ABC, NBC and CBS effectively decided what would get pumped into 300 million brains for 4.5 hours a day, every day, for the past 40 years.

This is like inventing the printing press and then turning it over to the Trappists, the Jesuits and the Benedictines and saying – OK, now we have a competitive market for books and ideas.

The best writing did not come out of the Trappist Monastery, and the best television will never come out of CBS.

The ‘democratization’ of video (cameras, laptops and the web) has the potential to revolutionize the content of video and television – but only if we act fast.

The Guardian is reporting that Details Magazine has named Kevin Federline as one of the 7 most powerful men under the age of 45 on the planet. Bad news not only for Youtube founders Steve Chen and Chad Hurley, who finished at #13, but also for the rest of us. But then, what can you expect from people who believe that dinosaur fossils were actually put on earth to ‘test our beliefs’, or are ‘remnants of the flood’.

So with President Huckabee firmly in place in the White House and Kevin Federline firmly in place as one of the most powerful men in the world, and the rest of us firmly in place on the livingroom couch screwing with the playstation or watching Access Hollywood for four or five hours a day, it will be good to know that at least someone is taking care of the future of civilization. Of course, the fact that they live in Shanghai should be of some concern to us.. but not too much.

Oh…and the Chinese characters above? They say ‘destiny’.


8 responses to “Character is Destiny

  1. Michael,
    I will go ahead and bite back. Since you are debating religion as well as the media… as a Christian, I will bite back.

    I can agree with you about some of the points you make about the level of education in the U.S. Also about the media’s influence on Americans.

    But you seem to have a distain for those who hold the Christian faith. Are you intolerant?

    The U.S. education system is largly controlled by teachers unions. My taxes go to a public school system…whose curriculum is controlled by liberal minded teachers unions. I choose to send my son to a Lutheran school from K-8. This is from a report I found about Lutheran education:

    “The report separated private schools by type, and found that among private-school students, those in Lutheran schools did best…. In eighth-grade math, children in Lutheran schools did significantly better than children in public schools.”

    My son is doing very well. He’s in a public H.S. now. I agree that the U.S. educational system is lacking greatly. But I KNOW Christianity is not the problem there.

    Raising taxes seems to be the answer for liberals to everything. Certainly you can make a case for better funding in certain areas. Yet there are way too many liberal educational ideas out there.. that have done nothing to improve America’s intelligence, nor morals. Again, you cannot blame the Christian faith for low intelligence, or low morals.

    The “Theory” of evolution is in “fact” a “theory.” You cannot prove otherwise. At the same time, I am man enough to know that “faith” in God… is in “fact” “faith.” I cannot prove to you…in your terms… that God exists. I have faith through the Word. (Would’nt a smart man look at the universe, stars, planets, earth, creatures, humans, and wonders of mankind… and at least think for a second… that there is a God.)

    Don’t blame the Christians because they have faith in God. This IS America, where we do have the freedom to believe and worship. Even under pressure from liberal aethiests who want power and control.

    You are intelligent (perhaps not wise). So you should realize that Christianity is NOT an American invention. Christianity is not new. So you can try to blame Christianity for America’s problems, but it doesn’t hold water. America is in fact known as a place where Christianity has existed, survived, and supported quality education, freedoms, social care and concern, and more. Christians do not kill people if they do not believe. We realize that the majority do not believe in Christ. We also believe satan plays a part in this world.

    You sink low…when you equate the Christian faith…for being responsible for the Kevin Federline survey results. That only shows your lack of respect, and immaturity. Your points are laughable. You make silly generalizations…which lower your value. (Of course others intolerant of the Christian faith might find your ideas agreeable. And I know there are many.)

    You might detest a Christian President. Yet there have been many. Mr. Huckabee would not send you to prison if you name your teddy bear Jesus, however. Get real. There are a great deal of Christians in this country. Yet you travel freely…and live and work among them. Are you really that frightened? Get real. Lay of those of the Christian faith. It makes you look intollerant, or even worse. There have been numerous Presidents with different religious backgrounds. But for some reason you think a Babtist man with theological training…and a faith in the God of the Bible… is dangerous?

    I enjoy debating media questions with you.
    But I am a Christian…one of many…as you stated. You are scared of me. You think people like me are dangerous, and bringing down the U.S. I cannot and will never be able to convert you or anybody to believing in Jesus Christ. That can only be done through the Holy Spirit… which comes through the word of the Bible. Not only do I believe in God… but I believe satan exists and is working hard against God.

    You happen to think Christians are the enemy.
    I happen to think satan is the enemy.

    Mr. Huckabee simply believes in the words of a book that is the most widely read and respected book ever written.

    I thought I would just write a strong reaction. What the heck. You wrote a strong post…and invite remarks. Freedom of speech. Freedom of religion. Tonight marks the Christian “Advent” season…as we look towards the birth of Jesus Christ – our saviour from sin and satan. Christmas is just around the corner.

    It’s in vogue now to bash Christianity. That is to be expected we are told in the Bible. I can 0nly warn you…not to put your trust in man, nor yourself. But that’s foolishness to you.

  2. P.S.

    Tonight I sent the book cover (for my wife’s book) to the publisher.

    Ironlically…. It’s called, “Called According To His Purpose: Missionary Letters from China.”

    Her Grandfather – a very well respected, very intellegent, educated man – was a professor, a pastor, and a missionary in China before communism. (Early 1900s.) He wrote and we saved numerous letters concerning his mission work and personal marriage.

    Since it was about China, and his work as a Christian missionary…. I figured it was ironic enough to make note of it now.

    God be with you in your time of doubt.

  3. Dear Eb
    I am always happy to engage in intelligent discourse on any topic, and this is no exception. Obviously your religion is very important to you and you take it extremely seriously. I applaud you for this. Many great men and women and great intellectuals have also been people of great religious belief. Don’t get me wrong. These two things are not mutually incompatable. Far from it.

    But… in my opinion, I feel very strongly that religion of any kind has no place in the public sphere. This, in my opinion at least, is one of the great underpinnings of American society and what makes and has made America such a unique and wonderful place to live and raise a family.

    My argument is not against Christianity per se, (though that is assuredly the dominant faith in the US), it is against any religion percolating into the public space.

    I would be as equally opposed to a fundamentalist Muslim proclaiming the prominence of Sharia law or Jewish fanatics (and there are many), declaring that God had said that milk and meat must be separated and henceforth all school cafeterias and restaurants would now subscribe to “God’s word”.

    In America anyone and everyone is entitled and encouraged to pursue the faith (or lack thereof) of their choice. In private.

    Ironically, on the front page of this morning’s NY Times there was an article about Huckabee and Romney which began with the following paragraph about Ronald Reagan:

    “In August 1980, as the conservative Christian movement was first transforming American politics, Ronald Reagan stood before a Dallas stadium full of 15,000 foot-stomping, hand-clapping evangelicals and pledged his fealty to the Bible. “All the complex and horrendous questions confronting us at home and worldwide have their answer in that single book,” said Mr. Reagan, the Republican presidential nominee.”

    Make Reagan a Muslim and make the ‘single book’ the Koran and you get an idea of the danger – in my opinion, of ANY religious belief bleeding into the public sector.

    Had Reagan held up the US Constitution as a document that contains all answers to our problem, I would have stood and cheered.

    Bible, Torah, Koran, Baghavadgeeta, Tibetan Book of the Dead. All powerful literature. All belong in the home, the Church, the Synagogue, the Stupa. Not the national elections.

    Like the First Amendment, I will defend to the death your right to say what you want and your freedom to practice your religion without fear of persecution or prejudice. But by the same token, I don’t want anyone… of any religious stripe… Muslim, Jew, Hindu, Christian, bringing their faith into the public place of politics.

    This, I think, is what makes us all Americans.

  4. “The U.S. education system is largly controlled by teachers unions. My taxes go to a public school system…whose curriculum is controlled by liberal minded teachers unions.”

    Eric, where on earth have you heard this nonsense? I think your church is doing a little brainwashing on you.

    It will probably snow in Miami tomorrow, but I have to side with Michael on this one. I have nothing against religions, I was born Catholic, but keep religion in the churches where it belongs, and off the streets and particularly off politic.

    My wife was a teacher for a number of years, a good one too; the politic of the educational system finally got to her, she left and went to work for a private firm for double the money she was making as a teacher, and much less stress of course. My daughter is a second year third grade teacher. In college she was a straight A student and was inducted into the national honor society. She wanted to continue for her master but both my wife and I suggested that she goes to work for a year or two first to decide if this is what she wants to do for the rest of her life. Most of the students in her graduating class, also inducted into the honor society but got into other fields started with twice the salary that she gets as a teacher. She immediately realized that something was wrong when we had to spend over one thousand of our own dollars to buy supplies and educational material to her new classroom to get it ready for the new students, the school gives her only $75. In her first year teaching she received the rookie of the year award. Her third grade class was one the best in the county with only one student tested below grade while the rest tested as much as two grades above their grade level. Now after less than two years she is ready to move on to something else. She could be one of the best ever, but teaching with politicians on her back got to her too.

    The unions have been fighting for smaller classroom size, more teachers and separate the students based on their levels of knowledge so they could receive more individual attention. Unions have absolutely nothing to do with the academics of teaching. Those decisions are made by elected official and those appointed to the various federal, state and local boards of education, appointed of course by those who were elected.

    This year in my daughter classroom she has four students that do not speak a word of English; those four students take over half of her time, meaning that the other 14 are not getting the attention that they should. Who’s to blame? The unions? About those conservative politicians that have been getting elected by cutting taxes (to the wealthier ones who put them into office of course) with the endorsement and support of all the religious organizations. Do you know what the direct result of overcrowded classrooms is? Overcrowded jails.

  5. Good response.

    1.) It is difficult to debate religion on religious terms. It is a circular debate always, due to the unprovable nature of faith. (Even when debating it in the context of U.S. governent policy and elections.) That does not mean the God of the Bible does not exist.

    2.) There was an interesting George Will column in my paper today about the origin of separating religion out of public funded schools. In the past they taught the ten commandments, etc… in public schools. But no more.

    3.) The constitution prevents government from establishing a religion. That is a good thing. I don’t think you need to worry about that happening.

    4.) There are stark differences between Christianity in America – versus Muslim theocracies in the mideast. A side by side comparision in this arguement – does a disservice, I believe, to Christians in the U.S. and the U.S. constitution. The differences are so stark… that it is unfair to lump the two. That is the problem, I see, in your debate…and those who compare someone like Mr. Huckabee, to someone like the Iranian President. The comparison ends with the title “President.” From that point on, comparing both their religions and their consitutions are like comparing apples and bricks. I think.

    In the U.S. we can take religion out of the government, but you cannot take religion out of the men and women elected to lead our goverment. Fortunately the U.S. is not ruled by one person. Nor do we have laws written regarding the establishment of religion. That does not mean our faith in the Bible cannot shape our lives.

    It is literally impossible to find any man or woman who doesn’t have a belief system…in which they base their decisions on. Aethiests look at Christians, and Muslims as having a foolish or dangerous faith. Christians and Muslims look at aethiests as having a Godless belief in secular humanism. Martin Luther stood strong against the Catholic church. Mormonism is being debated as a secretive cult. The questioning does go all ways, doesn’t it?

    It goes all ways. Hence the circular debate. I respect your religious views, but at the same time may not agree with them. I will also defend my faith in the Bible. The circular nature of the debate (here in the U.S.) leads nowhere – on a religious plane. But when the rubber meets the road, we need to vote. People vote for whom they vote for, and worship where they want to worship.

    I admit I would indeed be more outspoken if a leading Presidential candidate were leading the polls…on a radical Muslim law platform. But the U.S. consitution protects us from religious law…so I do not worry. When you compare Mr. Huckabee’s candidacy with Muslim imposed laws… that is where the debate falls apart, I think. You might not want a Christian in office. But the fear just seems to be misplaced.

    Getting back to a point: You cannot take religion out of the man. One cannot expect religion to not exist. And since we live in the U.S. where anyone can run for office… we need to deal with it rationally. Some people who vote are indeed interested in the fundamental belief system of the candidate. Others are just interested in whether they wear boxers or briefs, or like diamonds or pearls. Christianity will never be a truly “dangerous” threat in American goverment. Not in the same way you see other religions affect other societies. Fortunately we do live in the U.S. where there are freedoms to worship, and checks and balances in goverment. That does not exist in true religion theocracies.

    You mentioned how watching too much television was leading to the demise of America’s intelligence. Remember – Hollywood and corporate media is almost 100 percent devoid of religious context and content.
    Make of that what you will. I know what I, and Christians think. The lack of understanding, respect and adherance to pricipals taught in the Bible – hurt society – more than if we followed, respected and taught those principals. We cannot make it goverment rule, I know. But that doesn’t mean we throw it totally out the window and spread FEAR of a Christian candidate.

    Obviously, I think Christianity is not dangerous. It is good.

  6. Nino,

    You too make good points.
    It is good to know our kids are doing well 😉

    Sorry for trying to tackle bigger issues – out side of TV news and journalism. Michael started it.

    My wife is a teacher. And a member of the teachers union. I am also a union member.

    Perhaps I should refine the statement about teachers union being the cause of problems. Of course they have done good things. My main point was to state that in fact – the U.S. education system is dominated by teachers unions. The George Will column touched on this as being one of the reasons religious topics are not taught in schools anymore (If mymemory serves me.)

    There are many causes of the decline of education in America. Many. Parental involvement tops the list. Respect for religious / Biblical understanding and teaching, I think has something to do with it. Money is always an excuse…but it really comes down to who is teaching what. Lower standards and expectations are to blame… That comes mostly from liberally minded administrators who do not run a tight ship with high expectations. Again…parents parents parents. Television and U.S. media culture is to blame as well. (Who runs the media?) There are many reasons. I shouldnt have singled out unions. I hope that clarifies.

    The education of teachers at the college level – – the hiring and firing of teachers – the protection of teachers (who should be fired) all have a lot to do with the education system.

    It is obvious that the U.S. education system is lacking. THAT we can agree on.

    Getting back to media topics — perhaps the new internet video communications will help.

    Back to your regularily scheduled program.

  7. Where did I get the idea that there was a comparison made between a Christian president (Huckabee) and a Muslim President in Iran?

    I have no idea. Pardon me if I accused you of making a comparison you didn’t make.

    I have heard it before – perhaps by Randy Rhodes or some other Air America talk show.

    I just am trying to separate fear from reality here in the U.S.

    Back to work.

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