Monday, May 19, 2014

The Learning Channel - but what are they teaching?

TLC is short for "The Learning Channel" but seems the values they teach, are what Catholics feel is immoral.  Interesting enough, though, often things don't work out quite as well as the reality show protagonists envision, thus suggesting that the so called "rules" in the Bible might ultimately be a better idea, both for health and serenity.

For example a show on TLC called "Four Weddings", takes 4 brides each of whom attend each other's weddings and then, score each other for venue, food and dress as well as overall experience - the winner couple gets a fancy honeymoon in an exotic place.  The one I watched recently, was unsettling because one of the couples were lesbians.  What was strange was, instead of both the women wearing dresses, one of them wore a suit and had very short hair and looked very masculine.  I thought that was hypocritical i.e. if they are both women they should present as women - I think most lesbians will agree that their se/xual preference does not remove their feminity.  Of course, many of the weddings are less than respectful of marriage to put it mildly.  By the way, the lesbian couple did not win the exotic honeymoon. They actually tied for last place with the Catholic couple, the only one of the four who had a church wedding.

The idea of "gay marriage" is questionable on several fronts - two of the same gender cannot consummate a marriage - I get that they can be good friends and can even love each other but why if, se/xual expression is a part of this, would that be sanctioned or even made public - should not what we do in the bedroom, remain there?  If gay folks want some kind of commitment (which makes sense for folks who deeply love each other), should not that be taken care of by the state?  My take on this one - let all unions for purposes of a state license, be called "civil union".  Leave marriage where it belongs - in the church.  This would be good for gay couples as well as hetero couples who are Catholic or other religious - because it would allow all the legal advantages of marriage for everyone, would disallow, unions between humans and animals (which are happening on rare occasions) and would un-confuse many Catholics who feel a civil union is enough to call themselves "married" (Catholics are required to have a Sacramental marriage in church, in order for intimacy to not be a serious sin!)  Seems like such a no brainer solution which would benefit everyone - and I wonder why no one seems to have thought of it - perhaps there are forces "out there" which really do, as some Christians feel, wish to attack and destroy marriage?

On the same channel, TLC, there was another show called "Breaking Amish".  The scenario of this show, we were told, was 5 young individuals who newly left their Amish parents to live in New York City. When they describe their adventures in the "Big Apple", which include many things Amish feel to be immoral,  TLC films them in their Amish garb, a bit hypocritical because at the time they were filmed, none of them were still Amish. 

The show had several problems.  First of all, it was so anti-Amish that it annoyed a large group of Ex-Amish atheists who obviously weren't exactly pro-Amish themselves.  Secondly, as it turns out, the show spun huge lies.  None of the protagonists had recently left the Amish nor had any plans of going back to the church of their birth, and none of them were being shunned by their parents as often claimed on the show - they apparently, visit their parents regularly.  The ex-Amish who found the show highly offensive, know the people on the show personally, have worked with them etc.  At least two of the individuals whom TLC claimed "recently left the Amish" are divorced.  In the last show, TLC tried to clear out some of the issues but the 5 ex-Amish young folks all had an attitude of entitlement and a negative attitude toward the religion of their childhoods and in some cases, did not answer TLC's questions accurately nor respectfully.  (One of the ladies, Katie, who works as a model, expressed a possibility that she might return to her religion someday but several of the others had actually done things to make it difficult for them to return i.e. getting pierced or tattoos or being divorced etc).

What I learned from this show:  As a Catholic who loved the Latin church, like many others, I was not happy with Vatican II especially seeing as the early implementation was uh...less than great (and in a way some are still adapting).  But in watching the TLC shows on the Amish  (and researching this a bit), there is at least some evidence that there may be a rather alarming exodus of young folks from the Amish traditional practice.  Some of the Amish communities are updating a bit but the Old Order Amish cling to the old traditions which eschew any modern inventions (however they accept inventions of the 19th century which is a bit of a contradiction to me).

Bottom line, Vatican II with all its foibles and bad liturgies, likely saved the Catholic church because today, although some young folks leave, many return and there is a steady influx of new members coming into the church also (Catholic Encyclopedia stated 50,000 or more, join the Catholic church every year!).

Next, there is "Long Island Medium" on TLC.  This is a lady who claims to speak with dead people.  Worse yet, she claims to be a practicing Catholic which of course, would be a major contradiction since Catholic belief is that the soul, after death, typically, goes to purgatory where God prepares it to enter Heaven - souls in purgatory are not available to chat with folks on earth.  A few saints have had visions of these but other than delivering a message (usually pertaining to the suffering in purgatory), chatting does not happen.  The Long Island Medium seems to have abilities to pick up subtle clues in members of her audience - she's clever and perceptive and perhaps even has developed a few abilities along the lines of telepathy, but I don't feel for a single moment that what she claims to hear, are the souls of deceased loved ones.  She appears to be using some "cold reading" techniques in which she throws out a very general question and those she is reading immediately fill her in on the details.  She charges $500 per reading and is booked for 2 years in advance.  If you watch the show regularly, she tells everyone pretty much the same message - their deceased relatives/friends/spouses are with them all the time (which also, is false according to Catholic teachings), they shouldn't feel guilty about the death etc.  The people she reads (at least the ones they feature on the show), get very upset and are weeping although they claim she helped them. But if she is misleading them from the truth about their deceased loved ones, is she really helping them? In one case, she told a lady that her deceased daughter  was reincarnated as this lady's grandchild; imagine the confusion that could cause if the lady really believes that (and she appeared to believe it on the show). The Long Island Medium might mean well but is very confused and ought to consider attending a good course in catechism, but I wonder if TLC means well.  What is clear is since that her husband could sell his business and become a gentleman of leisure, the family paying their expenses from the Long Island Medium's income (including sending 2 adult kids to college), the financial benefits from her readings are obviously generous - as my husband pointed out she gets $100,000.00 bucks a year for the TV show plus the bucks for the readings... at $500 bucks each.  (Readings last less than an hour - that's better bucks than even plumbers make!) :)

Sister Wives" deals with the subject of polygamy. One man, Cody Brown with four wives.  This week's episode had some interesting conversation between the Browns and another polygamous family (man with three wives).  Although they all claim they practice this for "religious reasons", turns out that this is not at all, supported in the Bible but on the contrary, Jesus said if a man takes another wife, he commits adultery.  The Bible very much supports the one man- one woman concept of marriage and that some Mormons practiced plural marriage was based on "revelations" from their founder, Joseph Smith who, himself, wanted to not be monogamous. It's interesting to note that after Smith's assassination, Emma, his first wife, not only did not continue to practice poligamy but also joined the Baptist church.

The ladies in "Sister Wives" seem to be constantly fighting - what Bishop Sheen called - the negative presence of the Holy Spirit.  No matter how they frame it, somehow, their plural marriages don't feel right and they seem somewhat emotionally strung, and experiencing jealousy of the other wives and other negative feelings constantly.  Many of their progeny have told TLC that they have no plans of continuing their parents' practice of poligamy, suggesting that the plural marriage of their parents has not been a positive experience for them.  In "Sister Wives", each wife has her own house and the husband divides his time between the wives for private intimacy.

I am beginning to wonder if TLC which is broadcast in High Definition and with very arty cinematography actually has an agenda which is bent on insidiously destroying faith while having a veneer of presenting "family values". It seems that TLC often highlights what could be called  behavior opposed to Christian values.

This might be more acceptable if the viewer was pre-warned that the shows they were about to watch, are attacking Christian values so people could decide if they wanted to watch or at least be warned. At present, the only warnings given before a show, concern if the show presents a medical procedure.

This type of television, represents the dilemma the world often presents Christians with - seductive, interesting but toxic information about lifestyles.