Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Culture in 7 minutes and 32 seconds. . . .

I typically get funny looks when I admit to Christian friends that I've always loved watching Bill Maher. I was disappointed when his Politically Incorrect went off the air. I found it to be especially eye-opening and stimulating. Somehow, Maher and his guests would consistently pop the lid on cultural issues. . . . getting down and dirty with commentary and opinion that crossed the full spectrum (usually) of idealogies and worldviews on the issues at hand.

People also find it strange that I like Bill Maher himself. He's incredibly gifted. I would have been jealous of the guy if he had sat a row over from me in any of my high school classes. He's smart. He's funny. He knows what the issues are. Rarely do I agree with him, but sometimes he does get it right. I have yet to see his film Religulous, but it's on my list.

Since I don't have HBO at home, I only get to see Real Time when I'm on the road in hotels that have got HBO access. Monday night I was in Boston when I caught Real Time. The entire show is worth a look for those of you who are culture-watchers. But what really grabbed me was Maher's seven-and-a-half minute interview with Sean Combs (aka Diddy, P-Diddy, Puff-Daddy, and a host of other variations that are impossible to keep up with). As a culture-watcher, I found the interview to be brilliant in a variety of ways. Maher is his typical funny self. Combs is uncharacteristically humble - something I've never seen from the guy before. What grabbed me most is their interaction with each other, the way their worldviews are expressed, and the topics that they cover in their short time together. They hit everything from politics, to racism, to music, to religion. Of course, when doesn't Bill Maher mention religion these days????

If you're a culture-watcher, give this clip a look. It's a mirror of where we're at as a culture. It's a clear picture of the context in which we've been called to minister. It's both hilariously funny and deeply sobering. This is our world. . . . like it or not.

Let's get some discussion going on this one. Thoughts?

11 comments:

Sam Van Eman said...

Enjoyed the P. Diddy interview, Walt. Keep up the thoughtful work.

Amy said...

That was really interesting! I would've never watched it if not for your blog. I agree fascinating!

njjim3 said...

wow...never thought of diddy as ambassador of funkytown~

but really need to process diddy's phrase, "just try it!" is that what all christians sound like?

Anonymous said...

Interesting...to say that this is a view of our culture today is an understatement. What concerns me is the idea that Diddy considers himself an ambassador for Christ. His lifestyle would seem to speak otherwise.

Joe said...

What an interesting interview. My biggest take from this clip - what Sean Combs said about Barack Obama being 'in God's favor... God's watching over him'. It's about time for us, as Christians, to at least consider the possibility that God is not a Republican. I definitely don't think God is cool with Obama's position on some important social issues, but I believe that God can work through anybody He wants to.

Rachel said...

Romans 13 clearly states that any authority has been given that responsibility by God. We MUST as Christians give honor to our president.
But that is beside the point... I enjoyed that interview and laughed out loud in my office. Interesting because it caused me to reflect on other rap artists who claim the name of God in one song and abuse it in another. I believe that these individuals know who God is, whether or not they know Him is another. Is that how most of the world is?
There seemed to be a degree of tolerance expressed by Maher that I am not sure whether or not Combs was given because of who he is.

SoulPastor said...

Walt,

Great post...I am still laughing and speechless at the moment...("GOD" It will be interesting if Diddy is speaking prophetically!!! (sarcasm?)) but as a Canadian I believe that I have little to add to the conversation.

However, I am amazed at the name calling...I too, have been called an "Obama Lover" from someone in the states. Simply put, it pains me to see the church (the "evangelical right" part of it) go into name calling and division.

Know that as a Canadian (and I guess to be a Canadian means that I am a socialist - sarcasm again)better yet, as a Christian, we pray also for your leaders and your country!

Karen Hatch said...

I shared Walt’s disappointment when Politically Incorrect went off the air for the same reasons, and really appreciate this post. Thanks! It seemed to me that Bill and Sean had mutual respect and maybe even affection for one another even though their worldviews are quite different. My perception too is that they both spoke to real issues with integrity. I didn’t have a problem at all with Sean’s challenge to Bill, to “just try Him,” and actually thought it was some fine evangelism, particularly since there was an audience that might be influenced positively. During this interview anyway, I’d consider both men role models.

I don’t know Puff Daddy’s music specifically, nor am I familiar with his show or typical persona, but as a youth pastor and musician I’m probably more familiar with the genre than many. For a quick update on current day rap offerings, just take a listen to ‘Lollipop.’

I ( a white, 49 year old female) supported Barack Obama and think it’s a total perk that he’s a “black guy.” America’s long overdue for a great leader without regard to race, though Barack’s ethnicity has huge significance for all of us, perhaps most especially for our African American community. It’s great to hear from Sean the possibilities for the rap industry. I can’t wait to tune in! If personally, his faith and practice coalesce more clearly in the way we’re all directed… Amen.

dan g. said...

Sean's straightforwardness and confidence in what he felt was what stood out most to me. He wasn't intimidated or even threatened by Maher. Maher has always pushed people to think. Maybe he feels it is his calling. I perceive his greatest issue with faith is that it appears to be emotional to the neglect of intellectual. Sean was simple and calm and humble, as you mentioned, Walt. To me, it served as a reminder to be at peace with what we believe to be true about Christ and to engage in questions. God is big enough to handle any question, from Maher to your neighbor. Thanks for raising the discussion.

Ben Kendrew said...

Loved the response by Diddy to Mr. Maher! I think the thing that jumps out to me is the idea of the moaning of the creation...one gives credit and praise to the Lord and the other denies and mocks the Lord. You hear humbleness and you hear an arrogance, definitely intelligent but arrogant regardless. From this clip I see a culture wanting more than what has been offered and those that are skeptical even to the point of pointing out the racism / redneck issue in the safety of the President-elect. I guess the desire for something bigger than ourselves comes through in this clip as well from both Combs' response and Maher's questions. Great post I found this to be fascinating to listen to as well.

Rich: said...

Walt,

Thanks for reminding me that it is important to observe even those people in culture that are diametrically opposed to what I would believe. You know in principle that I am that way normally, much to the consternation of many who know me here. I guess its the utter arrogance of Maher that REALLY turns me off... Nevertheless, I did enjoy this clip. It was fascinating, to observe Maher's response to Combs when he mentioned God... He didn't quite know what to do with it. He was polite with Combs, when he would not have been polite with any other known Christian entity. I would suppose we can't blame only Maher for his "atheism." The historical church has provided more than enough fodder for those who were lightly initiated, to choke on and rationalize their rejection. In like manner, it was equally fascinating to study Combs face when he was talking about his faith - given what we think we know about his life style. It was not difficult to see what appeared to be a deep seated core belief trying to resolve itself with his known outward actions. The conversion and sanctification is never simple is it? It certainly wasn't for Augustine. Thanks again Walt!