I write this on Thanksgiving Day. My bride and I are alone in our apartment due to the coronavirus. But we are content since our lifestyle already resembles that of a “monk and nun” living a somewhat atypical monastic life. Even so, we see that Thanksgiving has changed over the years.
I happened upon an article about the old TV show “Father Knows Best.” During Thanksgiving week in 1954, NBC aired the show, which ends with the Anderson family praying before their meal. After the family gathers at the table, the father leads the family in prayer:
“Oh Lord, we give thee thanks from the depths of our humble hearts for all the blessings thou hast seen fit to bestow upon us. We thank thee for this food, which graces our table, the roof, which covers our head.
“We thank thee for the privilege of living as free men in a country which respects our freedom and our personal rights to worship and think and speak as we choose.
“We thank thee for making us a family, for giving us sincerity and understanding.
“But most of all, dear Lord, we thank thee for giving us the greatest gift a family may know – the gift of love for one another. Amen.”
I was 13 years old when that episode aired. It sure brings back a lot of memories of growing up in the 50’s. As I reflect on the evolution of my blogging, I am aware of being a voice of remembrance: “Stand at the crossroads and look: ask for the ancient paths…” (Jer. 6:16).
Having walked with the Lord for over 60 years, I pray my voice will bring a godly perspective. We desperately need “truth tellers” since much of the past is dismissed as irrelevant or too harmful to remember.
“Father Knows Best” highlights cultural changes our nation has experienced over the years. I am deeply grateful that I came to faith in the early 60’s and met my future bride in those early days. Jesus has been the center; Scripture has been our moral compass; and the Spirit of Christ has continually renewed us. Praise God the center holds and the foundation is secure.
What are some positive impressions from “Father Knows Best” that could to be integrated into life today? There are many. Here are a few, knowing that the cultural narrative of our day is often hostile to both the Bible and the idea of the traditional family.
First, and foremost is the spiritual leadership of the father. Traditional Christian thought sees the father’s role as spiritual initiator, pointing his family to God, to acknowledging God’s presence in everyday life. Men, start with being thankful and positive, giving your family a hope-filled future because of Jesus and his kingdom. Your role as father is critical: do your best to keep your family “heavenly minded.”
Second, we need to be thankful to be part of a nation that “respects our freedom and our personal rights to worship and think and speak as we choose.” Back in 1954 this was assumed. In the coming days, men will be called to advocate and stand for religious liberty. Expect to face strong opposition. Resolve to “stand.”
Finally, we can thank the Lord for “the gift of love for one another.” This is a gift God gives to each of us. Keep your spirit open to receive. Only then can we pass on the love of God. I know – I have cried out for mercy often to be able to love beyond my ability to do so.
I am a football fan, which means another season enduring ads trying to manipulate men in new, subconscious ways. I notice some ads are beginning to make social statements. Rod Dreher calls this “woke capitalism.” He maintains, “Woke capitalism is now the most transformative agent within the religion of social justice, because it unites progressive ideology with the most potent force in America: consumerism and making money.”
Men, be forewarned: you may be being manipulated by a woke capitalism that wants you to embrace the progressive social agenda, not because it means a better future for America, but because it is now mainstream and it sells. And if you disagree, you may be on the wrong side of history.
Coors, for example, still wants to sell beer. Beer is all about men, football and having a good time. So the underlying message goes something like this: Men are willing to be made fun of, so long as they can just be who they are. We can’t live up to today’s expectations of being a proper male. So let’s just be boys… These ads can be very subtle.
Case in point: one of the Coors beer (Made to Chill) ads. Coors Light wants to be the official beer of the discontented male, and Coors tries to win over the male audience with a new appeal: “Chill Out”. Two guys are settling down to watch football. A guy asks his buddy, “Who’s playing?” The answer, “Does it matter?” To which the first guy replies, “Nope.” Then this caption flashes on the scene. “The official beer of who cares, it’s football.”
What is the underlining message of this “Who Cares” ad? Remember, a lot of psychological study goes into these ads. Here is my take: First, get men to laugh at themselves. It fits the dominant narrative of the “dumb” male: uninvolved in the issues of the day; just wants to have a beer with his buddy.
Second, this message reinforces the idea of “escape.” The chaos, stress and confusion of life at the end of 2020 is too much for men. They just want to have a place where life is normal. This is watching football with your buddy.
Third, the remark, “Does it matter?” That is loaded with implications. We are left to draw our own conclusions. I take it to mean two guys have checked out on real life by escaping together into football.
Fourth, and most damaging is the remark, “Nope!” That is totally the stereotype of “toxic” masculinity. Males in our culture have been told they have to be reeducated to know how to behave in our new “brave” world with its demands of feminine equality. But men would rather “check out” of the drama of contemporary life.
I could be wrong. But that is my take. My sadness is that many men subconsciously accept the “I don’t care” message. My suggestion is that you get your laugh from the ad and then take a look in the mirror.
I know that I want to stay engaged, even at 79. I ask God to give me a passion for his kingdom and a desire to understand what he is saying to America today. I refuse to check out, just trying to survive…
I am reminded and convicted by the words of Jesus to the church of Ephesus in Rev. 2:4-5, “But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen. Turn back to me and do the works you did at first.”