As a father doing his best to teach and support Christian values in my home, it's no secret that the media presents some challenges. I work hard to keep my kids from being over-exposed to the sex, violence, drugs and other heavy adult topics which are clearly too “big” for them to comprehend at their tender ages. Filtering these images and messages isn't as easy as setting some parental controls or waiting for them to go to bed before turning on the nightly news. These themes are everywhere in the media, from the music on the radio to the front page of the Sunday paper.
While I'm not thrilled with our culture relying so heavily on the “sex and violence sells” mindset, it definitely has a heavy foothold, not just in the US, but globally. It's a perplexing reality for Christian parents. How do we navigate our children through the murky waters of the media and keep them on the right path? That's why I picked up a copy of Pat Boone and Ted Baehr's book, The Culture-Wise Family: Upholding Values in a Mass Media World.
This book was of particular interest to me, not only as a Christian father, but as a media specialist, writer and marketing professional. I literally support my family by being a part of the mass media world. This not only gives me an interesting—if not complex— perspective, but makes me think about what is out there differently.
I don't feel that the answer lies in keeping the media from my boys—which is impossible, outside of completely disconnecting—but rather reducing the superfluous gunk and helping my kids understand the rest the best that I can, little by little. It's still a tough job. So, I thought The Culture-Wise Family might offer some guidance.
I was a little disappointed. What bothered me wasn't that the overall message of the book was completely off base—because I agreed with a great deal of it—or that Boone and Baehr's Christian worldview differed from mine in intensity. My problem with the book, besides a desperate need for better editing, was that it gave loads of thought-provoking facts and statistics on the influence of media on our culture, but lacked answers as to how we can go about helping and nurturing our families in our own homes, as, in my opinion, the title itself suggests. From what I understood, the bottom line was to significantly limit our family's exposure to any negative influences—meaning anything that doesn't support a Christian worldview--by shifting the culture in general.
That's a pretty tall order, considering the media touches nearly every aspect of our lives, right down to the very blog I'm writing on right now, and our country is a melting pot of cultures and religions. A fact, incidentally, that I'm proud of. I couldn't help but wonder how I was to help my family now, in the current media-saturated world we're living in, and without feeling that I was compromising the personal values my wife and I share about the beauty of diversity and others' rights to their own cultural beliefs.
My overall feelings about the book are mixed. I think it's important for Christian families to understand what they're dealing with, but I would have liked to see a better written book with some answers that could help me be a better Christian parent and mentor now. Have you read the book? What do you think?