A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Movies
Posted by Rev. Jeff Dixon, Senior Equipping Minister at Covenant Community Church on Jan 1, 2002, 17:28
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Movies
It started as a typical Friday. The decision was made at the Dixon household to go and see a family-type movie. It just so happened to be the opening day for the movie of choice, HERCULES. Now I know it is a Disney movie and that the Southern Baptist Convention is boycotting the movie, but most realize that I had already gone on record with my opposition to the boycott. The tape series, Washing Behind the Mouse Ears, explains the reasons I believe that a boycott is not a biblical thing to do.
How could I have known that going to a movie would turn into a media event? There at the theater was a local reporter from the Orlando Sentinel. After an interview and a picture the headline the following day read BOYCOTT BUSTERS.
Oh well, I just wanted to go to a movie. I guess what surprised me is the response that came trickling in from well meaning brothers and sisters of the faith. I lovingly refer to it as my hate mail collection, but actually it has provided me with a great deal of laughter. It has reassured me of my position in this controversy and helps me understand why the world thinks so little of the church and the impact it has.
Here are a few samples (and a few random thoughts where applicable):
"You call yourself a Christian...a real Christian would never willingly watch or read anything that evil."
(I read your letter though, didnít I ?!?")
"Homosexuality is a sin, a real preacher would know that."
(Actually I like to think of myself as a model preacher, which according to Websterís dictionary is a small representation of the real thing)
"The Magic Kingdom isnít magic, and your stance is tragic."
(But the Fatherís Kingdom is more important and my stance keeps the gates of the kingdom open)
"You could have seen the movie without drawing so much attention to yourself and appearing so hypocritical in the media"
(Most people donít realize that the staff reporters at the Sentinel are always waiting on my call so they can cover my every movement and action)
"Why are you so openly trying to make the church look foolish?"
(The church is doing a great job without my help, but I am finding the problem occurs when we allow a certain few to do the thinking for everyone)
"As a pastor I hope that you rally to the cause of Christ one day, and my prayer is that one day you will be saved."
(I certainly hope that this was not your best witnessing approach or best opening line)
But it wasnít just that I got such great fan mail from the Christian community, I got mail from the homosexual community as well (especially after their activist groups called wanting me to lend my support to their organization). I responded that I just couldnít stand for sin, and thatís what homosexuality is...a sin.
"You are no better than the rest of your hateful Southern Baptist family members"
(Well, you should see the mail I have gotten from them)
"You and all of the rest of the Christians out there want us homosexuals all dead!"
(No, I donít. I want you to realize that we are not talking about an alternative lifestyle, we are talking about sin. Which by the way, Jesus died for. He canít stand the sin, but He sure does love the sinner.)
It sure has made going to the mailbox a great deal of fun around the world headquarters.
There were a couple of patterns I noticed about the mail and calls of which you just read a sampling. The contacts made by the Christian community, with the exception of one, were sent anonymously. None of the letters had return addresses on them. At least half of the pro-homosexual group signed their letters, but they didnít give return addresses either.
I guess I just wasnít ready for the response. I didnít know anyone really read the paper, but apparently they do. Now there has been encouraging notes and calls, and quite a few laughs as a result. George Dunn, my pastor who went home to be with Jesus told me, "Jeff I believe in you and what you stand for. You stand tough and donít back down."
Another note from a pastor in the Seminole Baptist Association said, "Jeff, I agree with you. We have communicated hate, and hate is not a family value."
I believe that we have set an impossible standard by considering a boycott and that is a wall we have to overcome as we share our faith. We have tried to regulate spiritual performance to simply a series of issues. If you boycott this or protest that, then you are spiritual. I vaguely remember Jesus telling the Pharisees about putting a heavy weight on people in Matthew 23. To boycott Disney, and itís 200 subsidiaries in the complex world we live in, is unrealistic and something similar to what the Pharisees would do.
How you and I spend our money is our own business. I think God expects us to be good stewards of what He gives us. If you feel compelled to boycott Disney, then I believe you have the right to do so. But I donít feel that I as a Southern Baptist must encourage those around me to do the same. I believe we make our own choice. However, when it comes to making a strong vocal stand concerning a boycott I think that to be a good boycott participant you must be consistent. So letís say that I am going to boycott Disney, and be consistent, here is my typical day.
I canít go to any of the Disney owned attractions, yet I am on vacation, so I decide to head for Universal Studios instead. But then I remember that Universal is owned by the Seagramís Corporation, so I canít support a liquor company, and there are some Universal movies that arenít real good anyway. But I still want to go somewhere, obviously Busch Gardens is out, because of the beer connection, but then again so is Sea World because they are both owned by the same company. So I decide to leave Central Florida and go to Six Flags. As I pull into the parking lot a Six Flags I remember that they are owned by the Time Warner Communication company. Their subsidiaries have made everyoneís hit lists so I get out of there. I guess I will just have to go home and watch television.
As I sit in my chair and use my remote control I realize that my local cable company is Time Warner Cable, and for the same reason I didnít go to Six Flags, I canít watch Time Warner and besides that they offer some pay-per-view stuff that I just donít approve of and would never order. Yet they offer it and that is by nature of the boycotts, just as bad. Also they have on the cable ESPN & ESPN II, which is a Disney subsidiary, so I quickly turn off my set and rip my cable out of the wall. Now I am stuck with the 4 network channels, except ABC, because you guessed it...Disney.
Iíll just have to settle for something to eat. Off I go to McDonalds, but as I pull into the drive-thru I see the advertisements for the Happy Meal which features a Disney toy based on the latest movie. I pull on through and head to Burger King. At the BK I can finally get something to eat, but if you were to check, Burger King is owned by a company that is a liquor producer and provider. So I decide to go and buy myself
something at the grocery store to eat. I decide on biscuits and gravy, which is a good southern meal. I purchase Hungry Jack biscuits, a fine Pillsbury product, but that company is owned by PLC Conglomerate, which also owns Johnnie Walker Red. So I figure Iíll become a vegetarian and eat Green Giant vegetables, but they are owned by a conglomerate that owns Barleyís Irish Cream, another alcoholic type beverage. So now Iíll just go Mexican, but El Paso Mexican is owned by J&R Rare Scotch companies.
Now completely frustrated, I decide Iíll only end up with dessert, I choose Haegen Daas ice cream, only to find out it is owned by Gordonís Gin.
It is impossible to be consistent.
For me, I think it is impossible to straighten out peopleís ethical standards without straightening out their faith life first. The boycotts rob us of the opportunity to see a change in their faith lives, and we have messed up by trying to impose a set of Christian ethics in a secular company. You canít develop ethics that are really pleasing to God until you know Him. The more you grow in Christ the more you change, but you canít grow until you meet Him, and people wonít listen unless we earn the right to be heard.
So with all that read, it is safe to assume where I stand on the boycott. I always boycott boycotts. . but I do pray for Michael Eisner and the Disney corporation, I support the things I like and thank God for the family entertainment they produce. I also donít support the things I donít like, and I believe the way to change things is for Christians to reclaim the arts including the entertainment arena. We need to be the leaders and the creative forces that help drive the entertainment industry, but that just doesnít happen while we are busy boycotting.
I also am thankful for the fact that once again a secular company like the Disney Corporation will host the Nights of Joy as well as allow hundreds of thousands of people to hear from the gospel of Luke, the Christmas story during the holidays in their theme parks. That is better than the bulk of the secular companies I know of.
Just something to think about. . .
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