While I will always do my best to give you answers about life, there are certain things that just can’t be explained with a reasonable answer. Today will be most remembered as the day a gunman killed seven adults and 20 children at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.
People ask, “Why did this happen?”
No one can give a reasonable explanation, because nothing about this incident was reasonable or explainable.
My attempt at an explanation is that some people in this world feel so broken, unloved, and numb that they give up on life.
The irony is, as hopeless and alone as they feel, they still don’t want to die alone.
It’s times like these that cause some people to ask, “If there is a God, why would He allow such an unthinkable event to happen?”
Others ask, “How could an event like this not cause people to turn to God, in the hope that there is a saving grace stronger than the depravity of man?”
In these moments we are forced to both contemplate and appreciate our own lives.
After all, we are the ones that still have the gift of life.
As messed up as it gets sometimes, we still share this gift. We still have the opportunity to love others as ourselves.
People who destroy the lives of others don’t, and maybe even can’t, understand this concept. I’m sure part of the reason is that they themselves weren’t shown enough love in their own life, but that doesn’t give them any excuse.
That’s why as your dad, I will always be teaching you the importance of making people feel special and included. If we all did that the best we could, maybe we could help create a butterfly effect where we passed along hope instead of despair.
I will teach you to seek out the lost, the friendless, the misunderstood, and the lonely. They need a good friend.
And I believe you will make a good one.
We can never explain events like the one that happened today. We can only do our part to quench the pattern of brokenness and fear with a pattern of love and hope.
I love you, Son. I hugged you extra close tonight. So did Mommy. We’re going to take good care of you.
As parents we have to be very aware of what our children are exposed to, especially in our own homes.
So what would change if there was no censorship on TV?
I think it’s only natural for our first reaction to possibly be that we assume there would automatically be constant f-words and racial slurs, marathons of pornography, and live assassinations and other types of violent, bloody viewings of people losing their lives.
The funny thing is, people who want to see those kind of things are able to watch them any time they want… on the Internet, where there already is no censorship.
But TV is much different than the Internet; TV more controllably directs millions of people to one program at once, therefore making sponsorship a more fickle thing.
There’s this whole concept of “things you can’t say or do on TV” but the truth is, we the people, the free market, are the ones deciding the ultimate standards we see on television.
The halftime show of Super Bowl XXXVIII is the best example I can think of. Yeah, that was the one with the infamous “Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake” incident.
It’s safe to say that the majority of those people who complained were parents who were offended by what the network allowed their children to see on TV.
My best understanding of censorship on television is this:
Each TV network has its own censors, who decide what subject matter is too racy or vulgar to keep them in good standing with A) The FCC and B) their viewers.
In other words, the TV networks are simply making an effort to avoid getting fined and losing viewers, which means they lose sponsors for their programs.
For example, American society has decided that the word “sh–” is too vulgar to be spoken on the major networks, meanwhile, “g.d.” is not.
In fact, this past Friday I watched Primetime: What Would You Do? where “sh–” was bleeped out but “g.d.” was clearly spoken, uncensored.
Even a decade ago, “g.d.” was still too taboo for us to hear on TV without flinching.
But speaking of breaking the 3rd commandment, using God’s name in vain, I think we’ve got things a bit mixed up.
We tend to think of “g.d.” as meaning “curse God” when really it’s the other way around; “God-cursed.” In its worst use, “g.d.” is like saying “God forsaken” because the worst way to be cursed by God is to be sentenced to a state of being where He is not present.
But I think it’s safe to say that none of us are offended by hearing “God forsaken” even though it means the same thing as “g.d.”
Ironically, what isn’t really offensive anymore to hear on TV is when people say “Oh my God!” which seems to be the unofficial catch-phrase of the show, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.
(I’ve noticed that’s what people yell repeatedly when they enter their new house for the first time.)
To me, “Oh my God” is more offensive than “g.d.” because “Oh my God” is so careless; at least “g.d.” indirectly recognizes God’s sovereignty.
I use this example of “g.d.” to point out this: Obscenity is simply in the perception of the individual, or more relevantly, the majority.
So to answer the question of what would change if there was no censorship on TV, I’d say it would be this:
Many people would be less likely to watch TV, not having a guideline of what to expect.
The flip side is that TV networks would probably be even more conservative on what they allowed on their programs, without having official censors working for them to professionally protect them.
Censorship serves to protect TV networks from losing money, not to protect us from what we don’t want to see or hear.
Otherwise, we’d be more careful to censor the TV ourselves; which is why I don’t watch much on TV to begin with.
My wife is the one in the relationship who is the stickler for pushing the toothpaste from the bottom of the tube.
Meanwhile, I am the one who doesn’t allow either of us to let the faucet to run while we are brushing our teeth, except for the brief moments the toothbrush actually needs to be rinsed.
I think it’s no coincidence that here in America, we play in our water (at water parks!) while people in much of the rest of the world don’t even have clean water to drink.
That’s not to say that if we simply reserved our water use, the people on the other side of the world would suddenly have access to the water they need to survive.
Instead, we have to be proactive to help them have access to clean drinking water. Today, I am honored to share with you a way your family can help families in Africa do just that.
This isn’t just a hopeful prayer: “Lord, please help the poor people in Africa.”
Instead, this is you actually helping the poor people in Africa. What an awesome way you can teach your kids how to help those who are less fortunate.
This past weekend I got to meet Wally from The Wally Show, my favorite radio show. They are a big advocate of a grassroots organization called The Blood:Water Mission that empowers communities to work together against the AIDS and water crises.
The Wally Show hosted a Lemon:Aid fundraiser here in Nashville so my wife and I took our son Jack to check it out.
As the sign behind me in this picture above explains, for anyone who bought a $1 cup of lemonade, they helped provide water to one person for a year.
For a $5 cup, they provided water to a family for a year.
For a $25, they provided water for one person for life.
And for $125, they provided water to a family for life.
As you can see, just a few American dollars still go a long way in Africa.
While at the end of the day I could care less about controversial parenting topics like circumcision and the cry it out method, something I am extremely passionate about is actually helping hurting families in less fortunate countries.
The Blood:Water Mission helps countries like Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Zambia, and Rwanda to have water wells installed to provide clean drinking water for their villages.
Here’s a link to their website which explains all the ways your family can do more than just simply donate money to invest in these lovely African people, but also to get involved like the way I just mentioned:
Everyone has their own approach to it that they feel most comfortable with and find to be the most effective. But I’m for certain that no parent disciplines their child in secret hopes of making them suffer indefinitely for their offenses.
Instead, we want our children to mature and become less selfish. We want the best for them. By doing so, we make the world a better place.
So here’s something I think is messed up about us as adults: It’s way too easy for us to want to see other people cursed and suffer when they offend us, rather than them being blessed and enriched.
If someone cuts us off in traffic, they are automatically a jerk who deserves to be flipped off.
No matter how good of a person they may be outside of that single moment. Forget about how hard they work for their family and how they help others out of the goodness of their hearts.
For cutting us off, they become labeled as idiots who have no hope of redemption.
In fact, in that heat of the moment, the thought of that person being redeemed is absurd. It’s natural and easy to generalize them into an evil and moronic imbecile who intends to make your life hell; or at least annoying.
Simply said, we want that person to suffer. Who cares about forgiveness, redemption, or reconciliation.
And then, for all we know, the next day we coincidentally see them at the gas station and they say to us, “Excuse me, but you dropped this.”
They hand to you your debit card which slipped out of your wallet. You thank them; neither of you even aware of the incident the day before.
We discipline our children to help them, not privately wish bad things upon them. Yet we so easily want to judge and punish those who slightly offend us or have the opposite view as we do on a political or parenting issue that doesn’t even personally concern us.
By the way, if you live in Nashville, I’ve probably cut you off before on the road. But only because you seemed to be going slower than you actually were, but I realized it only after I had already pulled out in front of you.
Oops. My bad.
Here’s a quote from my favorite song right now, performed by 10th Avenue North:
“Why do we think that hate’s gonna change their heart?
We’re up in arms over wars that don’t need to be fought
But pride won’t let us lay our weapons on the ground
We build our bridges up but just to burn them down
We think pain is owed apologies and then it’ll stop
But truth be told it doesn’t matter if they’re sorry or not”
Maybe you recently read “8 Non-Religious Reasons To Take Your Kids To Church” and now you’re thinking, “Okay, I see how that could be a good thing for my family but there are so many churches out there, I just feel overwhelmed. I simply wouldn’t know where to start.”
For someone who is new or unfamiliar to the church scene, I recommend the kind of church that meets at a school, where everybody pretty much wears jeans to the service.
Often the names of these “purpose driven” churches include phrases like family, life, community, and fellowship as opposed to official denominational ties, such as Baptist, for example.
They are easy to Google and definitely have a constantly updated website letting you know what exciting activities are going on there.
These churches are typically designed with you, the newcomer, in mind. They have a much more casual setting with a more open, feng shui feel. No pews, for example.
Churches like this are a natural magnet for younger families with children. And that’s hugely important for you as you consider joining a church community.
There may be a band leading the worship music in some likeness of Coldplay (or Lady Antebellum) while coffee and snacks (often free) are served nearby.
I predict at a place like this, you won’t feel like you’re being held over hell like a marshmallow, but instead will feel welcome and part of the crowd.
You can also expect the pastor to be less preachy and more teachy. You’ll feel like he’s talking to you, not at you.
That’s not to say that churches that don’t follow the “purpose driven” model are predictably stiff, outdated, and judgmental, but I do think that a church that fits the model I have described is going to have a better chance of not making you feel out of place, as a newcomer.
What matters is that you find the church that is the best cultural fit for your family so you will want to go back, not feel like you’re supposed to or have to.
I don’t think church is supposed to be boring. I think it’s supposed to be full of abundant life. That’s the kind of church I hope you find for your family.