Visual Onslaught: A Diversion of Focus
Four weeks ago, fellow blogger Agent Tim and I teamed up to interview American expatriate and rebelutionary, Hans Guenther, regarding the persecution of homeschoolers in Germany (to read the interview click here). Thrilled with the quality of content in Hans's answers, Brett and I invited him to write a guest post for The Rebelution. Please pay heed to the following, excellent, critique of modern man's obsession with the superficial.
About the Author: Hans Guenther is a 19-year-old Christian homeschool graduate from southern Oregon. He has been living with his parents and four siblings in Germany for the past ten years. Now studying online at Troy University, Hans is also an assistant to his father, Richard Guenther, who manages German homeschool legal defense organization Schulunterricht zu Hause e.V.Living in secular Europe for the past ten years has given me a great amount of insight into what lies behind the rapid secularization that is taking place in all of western culture. With immoralities on the rise, most conservatives would agree that, generally speaking, the western world has been heading down the wrong path. But few realize the complexity of our problem. Let us now examine an issue I believe deserves more attention.
Being confronted on all sides with television, movies, and photographs, we are constantly being forced to focus on everything and everyone’s surface appearance. Pop stars, movie stars, and models are screaming out at us: “Focus on outward things, desire outward beauty and acceptance!”
This contributes to a strong negative trend we have been experiencing throughout the past few decades: The focus on the surface rather than what is underneath – for Christians, the focus on the physical realm rather than on the spiritual.
These are not new problems. However, the inventions of the photograph and television have caused problems like these to escalate like never before in recorded history. By focusing on the surface, our eyes become dimmed to the inner realities that lie beneath it. People begin to
forget inward beauty and the spiritual realm. Love has become a physical infatuation rather than love in the biblical sense: selflessness with a focus on one another’s needs. As a result, relationships have become increasingly shallow. Selfishness has increased. Under these circumstances, high divorce rates come as no surprise.
While this diversion of focus is not the only factor in the high number of today’s failed relationships and marriages, it is undoubtedly one of the most underrated causes, as well as a leading factor in countless other of today’s problems.
Obsessed with outward beauty, women terminate pregnancies. Men commit adultery. Wisdom and knowledge, which used to be highly regarded by society, are now replaced by physical or outward appearances. Why should youth strive for wisdom and knowledge when it is propagated everywhere that hip appearance is all you need to be acceptable in today's society? Subconsciously, we follow society's lead – judging everyone by their outward appearance. This also plays a dominant role in today's society's worship of adolescence.
Voters are beginning to choose candidates based on their looks rather than their political agenda. This has been a growing trend in Germany, and is a logical outcome of our society. Politicians put a lot of time and effort into their physical appearance. Changes of eye color, make up, and hairdo are becoming increasingly popular among today’s politicians. Prior to the 2004 Vice Presidential debate, I laughed when the news showed John Edwards looking into a mirror adjusting his hair for over a minute. But is this really funny? It shows the importance our society is placing on outward appearance.
I admit that I myself am too often caught up in judging based on outward appearances. Of course, the outward realm is not to be altogether neglected, and photography is by no means wrong. However, the technological advances in photography pose a danger to the unsuspecting eye.
Unless Americans wake up to subtle, seemingly harmless assaults on our senses such as this one, our nation will likely continue on the same course that has all but ruined Germany and many other western nations.
Please take the time to consider the following questions and to share your thoughts with the rest of our readers:
1.) Nearly everyone would recognize that American culture, as a whole, is too caught up in the superficial. What about the Christians? How do you think this way of thinking has effected the church?
2.) Many people like to think that they are invincible to outside influences. How susceptible do you think the human mind is to the subtle effects of media and culture?