Thursday, September 1, 2011
Anders Breivik and the Media
Let’s face it – we are largely the product of our culture. However, I don’t think that we realize the extent to which our institutions mold our thinking. So many of our Christian youth now exhibit such over-the-top antipathy towards the church. Why? Let me give you one little example that might illustrate why this has become so.
Last month the Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik’s name splashed upon the news in red. He exploded a building in Oslo and gunned down children. The New York Times, among others, quickly labeled him a “Christian extremist.” Meanwhile, we convulsed with shame and once again concluded that there must be something the matter with the church. In fact, this kind of shame-message has the intended effect of silencing the church. After all, what can we say to society, when we have “deservedly” become the objects of scorn and derision!
Indeed, the Times did have some “justification” in labeling Breivik as a “Christian extremist.” Shortly before his violent exploits, Breivik had posted a 1,500 page manifesto in which he mentioned the “Lord Jesus Christ.” Well, I guess that settles the question of his faith! Not really! World Magazine wrote,
• Breivik clarifies that he is only a Christian in the “cultural” sense. He is not a “Religious Christian,” he says, because he possesses no “personal relationship with Jesus Christ.” The object of his devotion is not Christ or Christianity, but Christendom, the powerful monoculture that united Western Europe. “Christendom is essential, he writes, because it’s “the only cultural platform that can unite all Europeans” against their enemies. Breivik affirms the superior authority of science and logic, voices no belief in the deity of Christ, and openly doubts the existence of God. (Tim Dalrymple, Aug. 27, 2011, 68)
To label Breivik a “Christian extremist” is at best misleading. Why then did the Times and other media outlets describe him as such? I think that Carol M. Swain, Vanderbilt professor of political science and law, has courageously “outed” the secularist agenda:
• In order to gain control and indoctrinate others, “cultural enforcers” in media, education, and government have seized the responsibility to set the standards of behavior for the rest of the American people. Often these efforts are tragically well-intentioned, motivated by a desire to create a better world – a utopian society that replaces old values and norms with a better way of life. (Be the People, 10)
How do they attempt to “replace old values and norms?” By subtly disparaging them! Therefore, Breivik becomes a product of the “old values,” a “Christian extremist,” a product of Christian thinking.
Similarly, the Koran-burning “pastor” – he doesn’t even have a congregation – Terry Jones was made into a media celebrity. Hypocritically, the secular media paraded him ad nauseum before the world, even while they proclaimed how inflammatory his campaign had been. However, the media coverage is also guilty for inciting the resulting violence in numerous Muslim nations. (This in no way excuses the Muslims.) Evidently, disparaging Christianity was so important to the media, that they were willing to foment the very violence that they had castigated Jones for exciting.
Swain describes secularism’s quest as “tragically well-intentioned.” This is reflected by the fact that most secularists are attractive, educated and idealistic people. Meanwhile, Christians are often portrayed in the media as small-minded and angry – the last people with whom we’d want to identify. Consequently, our youth are loathe to identify with the church. This is the greater tragedy!