See the phenomenon that is sweeping America! So reads the movie ad for Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kasakhstan. Vulgar may be the best word to describe this movie. It’s a repulsive comedy filled with laughs at the expense of innocent people. Borat did so well in its first week that Fox tripled the number of screens in its second week of release. Yes, laughter is a wonderful gift, but is nothing sacred anymore? Must our entertainment desensitize us to racism, hatred, sexism, and intolerance? A definite low for the movie industry. Come, Lord Jesus, come.
O.J. Simpson announced a few weeks ago that on Nov. 30, he was publishing a book, If I Did It, which details how he would have committed the 1994 murders of his wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. Some called this book his confession. Others lamented how Simpson was awakening a nightmare for the families of those killed, not to mention his own children. As you may recall, Simpson was found liable for the deaths in a wrongful-death suit filed by the Goldman family but has not paid a dime of the $33.5 million judgment. Sickened by the proposed book, I chalked it off to a new low in the publishing world.
A few days later, I was pleasantly surprised to read that OJ’s book and accompanying TV special were canceled by media giant Fox. Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corp. owns both Fox Broadcasting and publisher HarperCollins, said, “I and senior management agree with the American public that this was an ill-considered project.” A HarperCollins spokesperson said all copies of the book were being recalled by bookstores and destroyed.
Meanwhile, Simpson told The Associated Press that he participated in the ill-fated If I Did It book and interview project for one reason – personal profit – saying that it was an opportunity for his kids to get his financial legacy. “My kids understand. I made it clear that it’s blood money, but it’s no different than any of the other writers who did books on this case,” he told the AP. Come, Lord Jesus, come.
The media has recently been fixated on the wedding of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, or “TomCat”, as they have been labeled. Held in a 15th century Italian castle, the wedding was a Scientology ceremony attended by the beautiful people of our world, actors and actresses whose every move and words are tracked by countless reporters and millions of devotees.
A few days after the wedding, an article by Tanika White of the Baltimore Sun listed 10 issues that do not bode well for the survival of this marriage. I could understand concerns about religious differences and the large age difference. But I had no clue about the astrology concern. “November 18 is a lousy day for a wedding,” according to psychic celebrity astrologer Ray Sette. “From the period of November 15 to 21, Mercury, the planet of contracts and communication, appears to virtually stand still in the sky. This apparent lack of motion will create much difficulty in the area of communication and the expression of each individual self in this marriage.” Huh???? Come, Lord Jesus, come.
December 3 is the first Sunday of Advent. In tens of thousands of churches across the world, we will read these words from the lectionary, “The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.” (Jeremiah 33:14-15)
Coming on the heels of Black Friday, non-stop Christmas muzak, and Play Station 3, as well as OJ, TomCat and Borat, the Old Testament lectionary text invites us to consider a different way of looking at our world. In the midst of a dead line comes a new branch. In the midst of darkness shines light. In the midst of despair, the fullness of the promise will be experienced through justice and righteousness. Come, Lord Jesus, come.
Our world still yearns for a Savior. We yearn for a word of hope and compassion and mercy. We yearn for communities where love overcomes hate, forgiveness trumps revenge and understanding supersedes intolerance. Indeed, the righteous Branch continues to spring up yet today in you and me and in our congregations. For the new age promised by Jeremiah is now, and we are the branches. Another Christian year is beginning! May God bless you with wisdom and courage as you confront the powers and principalities of this world and preach the good news of righteousness and justice. See the phenomenon that is sweeping across America! Come, Lord Jesus, come.
P.S. If you simply must have a Playstation 3, 16,000 units are advertised on eBay, for up to $1,000,000.00 each. Just thought you’d like to know.