27 01 2014

I was just a year old when my paternal grandmother moved to Southern California, and she lived in Beverly Hills and Los Angeles my entire childhood.  My siblings and I spent just about every summer visiting her.  While most of my friends were going to Fantasy Island, a small amusement park 10 miles from my home, I was going to Disneyland and Knotts Berry Farm.  My first trip to a beach was in Santa Monica; and day trips to San Diego, Long Beach, and Catalina Island allowed me to see and experience things that most kids raised in the 1970s only dreamed about.  On our ‘down days,’ when my grandmother was too tired to take us to play miniature golf, or to roam around Farmer’s Market, we’d simply go out for ice cream after dinner, and drive down Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood.  To my grandmother, it was no big deal; but to me, it was always an amazing experience.  The people, the excitement, the lights, the sights and sounds — they were not part of the life I knew in Lewiston, NY — a town of 6000, an hour north of Buffalo — and I loved it.  I was convinced that after graduation I would attend Pepperdine University, and never go back east again!    

Then, sometime in the late 70s, something happened to my impressions of Hollywood.  After a significant experience of spiritual conversion, Hollywood became something akin to a ‘sin city’!  Actors and musicians lived immoral lives, made movies and music that glamorized sin, and embraced an ‘agenda’ that sought to do nothing less that destroy the American family and rip apart the very fabric of those things that made our country great.  And, I have to say, that for many years, this was the view that I embraced.  

But last night, as I watched the Grammy Awards on CBS, I realized how much my picture of Hollywood has changed in recent years.  I don’t know much about Madonna or Queen Latifah.  I’ve heard their music and seen some of their movies; but am not sure that what I see in their lives is any more offensive than what I see in the lives of Kansas pastor Fred Phelps who protests at the funerals of service women and men, or North Carolina pastor Sean Harris who advises parents with boys who act like girls to just ‘give them a good punch.’  We’re all broken.  None of us are perfect.  And fortunately God’s grace covers all of us!  I also confess to not knowing much about Macklemore and Ryan Lewis; but I know enough to say that their song ‘Same Love’ speaks just as powerfully to me as Amy Grant’s “Better than a Hallelujah!” 

So last night, when Macklemore and Lewis took the stage with Madonna and Queen Latifah, my heart broke!  Not because of what they were doing.  But because they had the divine wisdom and the prophetic courage to do what the majority of the people in the Church of Jesus Christ are still afraid to do!   

While leaders of my own denomination remain afraid to take a stand for what the majority of us know to be consistent with the Living Word; afraid to offend the people in the pews, and unwilling to challenge the naivete and ignorance behind most — not all, but most — of the anti-gay bigotry in the church today, Hollywood has decided that the time has come to speak up and speak out.  While the Methodists defrock clergy who are willing to perform marriage ceremonies for their gay children, Hollywood has decided to license their own in order to allow ALL people the joy and blessing of a relationship that God has given to all humankind!  And while the vast majority of evangelical Christians in this country continue to challenge people to invite Jesus into their hearts, it takes someone like Madonna to challenge us all to OPEN our hearts, so that we might see that all love is from God, and that all people deserve the opportunity to enjoy the gifts of marriage and family.

So what can be said when actors and musicians take up the prophetic message of the Gospel?  What can be said when the stars of stage and screen do what the church continues to be afraid to do?  What can be said when the rich and famous take a stand for those who have been put on the margins of our society for too long, and those who have been shunned and shut out of the church of Jesus Christ? 

Well, there is only one thing that can be said.  Hooray for Hollywood!  (Sing it with me!)

You made me proud last night. Now, if you could pray that my church will catch up sometime soon, I’d be most grateful!



4 responses

27 01 2014

Thank you Bob!

28 01 2014
Kay Caviness Duplantier

One of the reasons I miss you!

29 01 2014
Kathy Welliver

Thank you! I hope someday my partner and I will be able to marry and everyone can be happy for us!!!

31 01 2014
Louis Vosteen

As Bob Dylan so aptly said it: “The Times They Are A-Changin’ ” and it’s time we stopped sweating the little stuff and focused of what really matters in life. “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

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