popped culture

by Elizabeth de Barros

Culture has finally gone bust.

How do I know?

For one, Andy Warhol’s prediction from the ’60s has come to pass and is now boiling over. Everybody’s fifteen minutes of fame has been extended and gone the way of urban sprawl. Think Balloon Boy and the uninvited guests at November’s White House state dinner. Decorum is out; brazen is in. If this fodder is primetime news, then we’re a nation overfed and undernourished. And the stars are falling.

When baseball’s Roger Clemens disappointed fans by taking steroids, we were heartbroken. Barry Bonds unnerved us, too, when he got a mention in the Mitchell Commission report. Last month Andre Agassi confessed in his book, Open, to taking crystal meth and secretly hating tennis while the crowd was busy cheering — now we’re mad. Then Tiger Woods broke out of his glass cage last week no longer wearing stripes. Apparently, he’s got spots. Meantime, come 2011, Oprah is calling it quits after 25 years of sitting pretty as the nation’s compass rose, faulty needle notwithstanding. And as bipartisan tears dropped on Ted Kennedy’s casket this past August, the last nail finally hammered shut Camelot’s coffin. It’s lights out for Bernie Madoff, too. May God help Michael Phelps.

What’s left to feed the aspirations of our youngest Americans? Times Square?

Foibles. Indiscretion. Depravity. Sin. Death. It all comes from the same place, and God in His graciousness has already given answer to the madness. But it’s clear not everyone has heard. When a culture is in decline, it no longer benefits society. Instead, it degrades it. In How Then Shall We Live?, Francis Schaeffer taught that worldview matters — it shapes a people, for better or for worse. And here we are, while America laughs as Late Night takes potshots at the President and the latest It girl‘s crash and burn. Cynicism rules the day as contempt breeds in our nation’s psyche. Society is especially failing our children, the true gems who are hiding indoors like Holocaust survivors until the disaster has passed.

I love culture — fine arts, ethnicity, baseball and apple pie. I get a kick out of shiny muscle cars. Things that shape a country and a people. Culture is not the enemy; it’s a gift. Without it, given the technological age whizzing past, we’d all be colorless automatons by now. But we’re dangerously close. We’ve denied the Giver and our collective soul bleeds media ooze. Do we realize we’re being exposed? Seems nobody can find untarnished trophies of silver and gold anymore.

But I cannot give up hope. I’d like to believe they’ll appear again in the next generation.

My nine-year old doesn’t know who Andy Warhol was, and I don’t think it matters. Instead, he’s having a blast listening to Handel’s Messiah.

A boy who hungers for greatness.

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FIVE Areas that shape every Culture and Nation:
• Pulpits, Churches, & Family
• Education & Academia
• Media & Entertainment
• Business & Economy
• Judiciary & Government

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