May 5, 2006

Howard Stern on Christian radio
by John Fischer

I was in the Denver airport trying to manage my Seattle’s Best latte and what must have been Seattle’s worst bran muffin while multi-tasking on my cell phone and the Internet when a news clip over the airport TV system caught my attention. (I know this is a Starbucks campaign, but there wasn’t any Starbucks in the building. Had there been, believe me, I would have found it.)

The news clip was a story about how some people thinking they are accessing Christian radio stations via satellite are getting Howard Stern’s satellite feed instead. I had to laugh out loud. At the risk of displeasing some in our audience, I’m going to say they deserve it.

What I mean is: They deserve to face the irony of the situation. I really wouldn’t wish Howard Stern on anyone, especially a fellow Christian, but I do have to chuckle over anyone tuning into Howard Stern when they think they are tuning out the world. Here you have someone trying to keep the world at bay, and the worst of it leaks in. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing, if only to be a reminder of what we’re really here for.

This whole state of affairs was actually prompted by a $4.2 billion industry created to serve the needs of a conservative Christian clientele. In my opinion, the enterprise is somewhat misguided. It’s the motivation that is in question. I seem to remember Jesus sending his followers out into the world – even warning them about how dangerous it was going to be – instead of trying to insulate them from it. He certainly was in the world when he was here and paid a very high price for it, I might add.

In the beginning, most of this Christian presence in the media was admirably motivated by an attempt to get the message out, but it has increasingly become a means of keeping the world out and the message in. To be sure, it would be very nice to be able to access nothing but safe, wholesome entertainment all the time, but I believe it’s going to be impossible to keep the world from leaking in. And anyway, what would be the point?

Ultimately you have to ask: What are we here for? Are we here to have the nicest, safest life possible, or are we here to follow Jesus into the danger zone of the world around us in order to demonstrate his love? It’s my understanding that Jesus wants Christians in the world and not so out of it. He never said it would be safe. He even prayed for the protection of his followers because he knew it wouldn’t be.

«My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.» (John 17:15)

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