A Fragrant Offering

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How does what we read and watch on television impact our spiritual growth?

Oh dear.  I just got home from a family rest time during spring break.  So wonderful.  I had down time – actual true down time so had asked for book recommendations from friends.  I’m a fiction girl primarily – needed a good story.  Got some good recommends but as I had a lot of time, I ran out.  Luke and I went to a bookstore to pick up a couple more each and after reading the cover, I bought, “The Girl Who Played with Fire” – the sequel to “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”.  Not about vampires or witchcraft or werewolves…a mystery…a spy novel it said.  OK then.

Oh dear.

About  thirty years ago, our pastor gave a sermon warning us about the dangers of television.  He was saying that watching just anything on it was like opening up a sewer pipe right into your home.  THIRTY years ago!  And what is it like now?  When sex scenes, same sex scenes, murder, witchcraft, reality shows that manipulate and oh ….it’s getting worse.

Ok, back to the much hailed, NY Times bestseller book.  Well written  - yes.  Godless – yes.  But even worse.  At the beginning of the book the young 25ish woman heroine has a sexual liaison with a 16 year old boy for about 6 weeks.  This is presented as a neutral thing.  No, a good thing.

Then the book turns to be about uncovering a sex trafficking ring back in Sweden.  We are supposed to be shocked about the girls brought in for prostitution – ages 15 to 20.  (We are shocked.  Grieved.)  But wait…what?  It’s okay for a 25 year old woman to have sex with a 16 year old boy?  What if it had been a 25 year old man with a 16 year old girl?

The book continues…she meets up with an old girlfriend.  Girlfriend.  And though the author does not go into sex details – they have their affair.  Or maybe he does go into details.  I don’t know.   This is the point when the much hailed book went flying across the room.

What are we reading?  What are we watching?  It MATTERS!  What has become normal to our depraved, godless, searching, deceived, aching, fallen world?  What has become normal to me?  To you?

Our last night away, our family went out to dinner to a hibachi restaurant.  John had spent much time online researching a nice place to go and had chosen this.  I was a little surprised.  I think they’re fun and all but wasn’t so much in the mood to have dinner with a group of strangers.  Hibachi restaurants are the ones with the grill in the center and the cooking, chopping, grilling is done miraculously, entertainingly in front of you.  We were a party of 3.  We would be sharing our table.  (OK, sharing a table can be fun but honestly my last time at one of these restaurants was a surreal experience having been taken there by my well-meaning aunt just hours after my mother passed away.  The erupting onion volcano was lost on me.  But that is another story.)

So, we get there and are ushered to our table.  We sit down.  We are joined after a bit by a family of 5.  The daughter sits next to me (18 years old), her fiancé next to her, then the younger brother and around the corner the parents.  Hellos are exchanged.  Then the fiancé and the girl begin to make out.  Not just kiss.  Make out.  I mean it.  At the table.  In front of us.  Did I mention the parents are sitting right there?

Oh dear.

We are stunned.  What does one do?  Say?  John jokingly suggests they get a room.  He then proceeds to engage them in conversation every time they begin to make out.  Lots of conversation.  We are looking forward to the food being served so they have something else to do with their mouths.  John talks with the Dad about Wild at Heart…the evening progresses.

I spend a bit of time talking with this little engaged girl with chipped blue nail polish on and she begins to tell me about a book she is writing.  It’s about the end of the world.  Well, not the end of the world, really, no.  It’s about forgetting.  People have all forgotten.

I’m wondering what have they forgotten?  Mores?  Manners? Propriety?  Holiness?  ACK!

Actually, I found the idea very interesting.  Biblical even.  Later, between embarrassingly long kisses…she confides in me that she thinks the world is getting worse.

She’s 18.  It is getting worse.  But I’m kind of surprised that she has noticed.

So, we hurry through our dinner…and when we get up to leave, John goes over to the parents…words are exchanged, book titles written down and the girl gets up to hug me good bye.  Hug me goodbye?

Just a snippet of our time.  Just a few moments shared.  Just me shaking my head and asking God, how am I supposed to live?

And all at once I hear him.  As salt and light.  Being in the world but not of the world.  Being intoxicatingly different.  Fragrantly alluring.  Unafraid and unabashed ofnot fitting in with the world and not sliding down the slippery slope but seeing it, recognizing it and offering a different way.  Offering The Way.  Offering Love.  Offering Jesus.

I need a new book.

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