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TwilightZone

Were the Good Old Days So Good?

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In the light of current events, sometimes my own work seems unpardonably trivial. Our country’s border has been ruptured. Our shabby excuse for a president governs like a king, with executive orders, some of them alarmingly broad, replacing legislation. Our churches embrace apostasy. As world peace crumbles in one crisis after another, our national leaders focus on promoting “gay rights” around the world. And so on.

I don’t kid myself about these columns. Nobody’s going to read one, jump out of his chair, and shout, “Eureka! I see it now! Unlimited government is not the answer. Same-sex marriage, Climate Change, and Income Inequality—what a load of bunk. But now I see the light, I’ll never fall for any of that commie tripe again…” No, that isn’t going to happen. I write these out of duty. We all have a duty to God to speak the truth, whether anyone is listening or not.

But what’s my excuse for writing novels—fantasy novels, no less?

I watch a lot of old TV on YouTube. I watch it to relax, and to escape into an earlier time which I remember as being a whale of a lot better than this current era of debauchery.

But old TV shows are cultural artifacts, and they have things to teach us—not about morals or anything like that, but about the old America in which they were created and produced.

A message is beginning to come through, that maybe my memory is faulty. Maybe those old days were not so good, after all. Maybe the rot had already set in.

For instance, a Twilight Zone episode, “Long Live Walter Jameson,” brought bare-faced atheism into America’s living rooms in 1960—and no one complained. The epilog, spoken by Rod Serling, proclaims that we human beings come from nothingness and that our destiny is dust. Could anything we hear today be more baldly anti-Christian?

Had we not, even in those days, walked away from God? Did we not confine Him to the church, where, once a week, for just an hour, we went in to visit Him, as if He were a patient in a nursing home?

Look at the TV shows, the movies, and the novels of fifty or sixty years ago. Was there anything being said to the effect that the earth is the Lord’s: that we are His people, the sheep of His pasture? Did they ever show us any problem that could not be solved by recourse to our fists, our guns, our wallets, our police, our courts, or to our wits?

Yes, I know I’m speaking in generalities. There was, after all, religious programming back then, and more of it than there is now. But when did Maverick or Marshal Dillon or Batman ever acknowledge that he was in the very least dependent on his God? Did Dr. Kildare pray for strength or guidance? Did Perry Mason? How easy would it be to watch a plethora of those shows, or wade through several dozen best-sellers of the 1950s, and conclude that, at least in the world of fiction, there is no such person as the Lord?

Don’t say, “It’s only popular culture—so what?” If pop culture had no power to influence behavior and beliefs, no one would spend good money to produce it and commercials would never have been invented.

Davy Crockett, as presented by Walt Disney and acted by Fess Parker in the 1950s, always used to say, “Be sure you’re right, then go ahead.” But how did he know he was right? He never explained that, did he? We never saw earnest prayer, or consultation of the Bible, enter the picture. Davy decided for himself what was right or wrong, and we never heard anyone ask, “But how do you know?”

So I write fantasy/adventure novels in which various characters try to re-connect with God because the Lord wants them and their nations to have that lifeline. (You can find out more about these novels by visiting my blog, and clicking “Books” for descriptions, cover art, sample chapters, etc.) Other writers are trying to do this, too; but as yet we are just a few small plants in a vast desert of Godlessness. Few of us enjoy the promotional resources of mainstream fiction.

To you, the reading public, we cry, “Help!” Books can’t accomplish anything if no one reads them, and no one’s going to read them if they don’t know they exist.

Seek out Christian fiction for yourselves and for your children. There’s more of it out there than you imagine, pleading for readership. And trust me—it’s not all goody two-shoes, boring, boring. Some of the most creative and unusual fiction today is being written by Christians.

It’s time C.S. Lewis got some reinforcements, don’t you think?



 

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