November 21, 2009

Fixation Pauses

When I was in high school, I took Rapid Reading as an English elective. The teacher was just about everybody's favorite teacher. She was one of those teachers who could bring any topic to life. When she started teaching Rapid Reading, she hit garage sales to pick up as many cheap paperbacks as she could. She used those paperbacks to teach us the process of using your finger to lead your eyes quickly down a page, taking in all of the important information and learning to weed out the meaningless.

Over time, she began to notice a lot of fixation pauses. That was when a student would quit running his or her finger down the page and start to take in every single word. It turned out that our well-meaning teacher had picked up a bunch of Harlequin Romances thinking they would provide mindless reading. What she didn't realize was that Harlequin was just starting to venture into the territory of soft porn. Oops. If that happened today, I'm sure there would be cries for the teacher to be fired. People would claim she was leading young people into sexual activity. But the truth is, nobody in my class started having sex because they were reading Harlequin Romances. Those who were sexually active were influenced far more by their peers than by anyone or anything else.

I was reminded of that when I saw an article in this morning's paper about a speaker who believes "American teenagers are being kidnapped and brainwashed by an electronic culture with values their parents would never accept." He's blaming Hollywood but I think he's wrong.

You see, it seems to me that people are influenced far more by the behavior of people they actually know than by what they see on TV, or in a movie, or the music they listen to. I believe that it's the lack of morality among too many Christians that is the biggest problem our culture faces. Too many Christians who have extramarital affairs. Too many Christian couples who live together before marriage to save money for a church wedding. Too many single Christians of all ages who are sexually active, and their kids know it, their partner's kids know it, and their neighbors' kids know it. Too many Christians who fill their Facebook pages with all the right words, but their lives with all the wrong behavior. 

We're causing fixation pauses for those who are watching us, and who stop to take in the behavior that doesn't fit what we claim to be. When we're not blaming Hollywood for the lack of morality in our culture, we're trying legislate the behavior that we think everyone else should follow. But the truth is that if we, as followers of Christ, would follow the teachings we know to be true -- instead of manipulating the words to fit our desires -- we would have the power to change the culture through the example of lives lived as Christ taught us to live. 

So when are we going to start?


  1. Looking at the speck in our own eye is often painful and it is easier to blame anyone and everything. I do think TV and movies make us less sensitive to many things including sex and violence. I realize it when I watch movies and TV shows and I see the significant difference in my own reaction. CSS

  2. I think we give media way too much credit. What desensitizes me is what I see actually going on around me. Fiction just doesn't have that impact on me.

    It's like when people act like they don't know they're supposed to pull over for emergency vehicles. Of course they know what they're supposed to do...but they look around to see if anyone else is stopping before they decide whether or not to pull over. They haven't seen that on TV - but they see it around them and they begin to question why they should do the right thing when it seems like nobody else is.