Bleep Free Guarantee

My local Christian radio station has this as their motto: bleep free guarantee. Their reason is two-fold: (1) whatever is played or discussed is squeaky clean, and (2) it is safe for everyone to hear.

I have mixed feelings on this, but I understand their reasoning.
Three Wise Monkeys
The concept of the wise monkeys is that they see no evil, speak no evil and hear no evil. Honorable deeds, of course, but I tend to see the Christian community taking this concept to an extreme. In some communities, it shows up in banning gossiping - not malicious intent, but anything evil about someone else, even if that evil is criminal.

For others, it is the inability to have any swear words or euphemisms in conversation. For this crowd, there are lists of bad words that we cannot speak in public, private, or even think. Some words even make no sense whatsoever or exclude certain songs from being sung, even innocuous ones that deal with the ox and the ass.

For the last group, anything that smacks of sin is abolished from their sight. Drinking alcohol? Gone. Playing with cards? Dismissed. Dancing? Heaven help us.

Don't get me wrong here, I honestly understand where people come from. I will not watch certain shows or films solely based upon the topics covered or commercials promoting them. A good friend of mine from college doesn't listen to any CCM (contemporary Christian music) because she doesn't want to go back to her pre-Christian music styles.

So, yes, I understand this desire to live a godly, holy life, but I wonder if this "bleep free guarantee" does more harm sometimes.

Squeaky Clean

When I was little, my mom told me if my hair squeaked it was clean. Low and behold, a couple years ago, I learned that if our hair squeaked, it may mean we've damaged it by removing the oils that protect it. In other news, some scientists believe that the anti-bacterial craze may actually be hurting our immune systems by not allowing our bodies to build up immunity to common diseases like cold strains.

In our desire to protect ourselves, we might actually be hurting ourselves, and it makes me wonder in what other ways have we hurt ourselves?

Should there be a point where the good outweighs the bad? If we're so sensitive to foul words, can we ignore a good book that will teach us great things?

For example, Dorothy Sayers wrote the Lord Peter Wimsey series back in the 1920s. Wimsey, a man of his times, uses damn on a somewhat regular cycle. It's a word simply to express frustration, horror or annoyance. Culturally, it was, and is, considered a mild expletive.

Should one ignore the Lord Peter Wimsey series solely based upon its use of damn? Should we read it as a good murder mystery which asks us interesting questions? I would argue that, yes, we should read the Lord Peter Wimsey series. Others would argue that a "little leaven spoils the whole batch."

I'm not a hundred percent certain that they're right. Taken to the extreme, one wonders how they manage to live in the world around them.

The Life of Riley

There once was man from Galway,
Who drank and danced all day.
He loved his wife so wiley;
And lived the life of Riley,
While Riley was away.

Limericks are short poems that follow a pattern focusing on the rhythm and rhyme. Normally, they also had a punch line at the end either sexual or situational. The one above is one I wrote based on the last two lines of one I heard, but could not remember.

There are no foul worlds in the limerick, but it is definitely naughty, and unless you considered it for some length or saw it written out, the punch line may be lost. It is an example of something clean that portrays questionable behavior.

It begs the question: what other "clean" stories aren't so clean? Does their uncleanliness negate the point? In the limerick above, the point is a wink and a nudge about men who stay away from home too often. Questions can be raised concerning the reason for the absence as well as its profitability.

Books like Anna Karenina and the Scarlet Letter focus on a woman's fall from grace, but also focus on others within their worlds. Hester survives to raise her daughter well, while the father of the child eventually commits suicide.

Focusing on Hester for a moment here, she commits a sin in her community by sleeping with a man who is not her husband. She becomes pregnant, and lives with the consequences of her one night. Her community condemns here, but she is able to rise above her past.

On the other hand, books like the Elsie Dinsmore series focuses on a girl doing the "right thing" all the time. Serious questions should be raised when Elsie winds up marrying her father's friend. It is a "clean" book, but promotes things that are questionable at best.

Countering the Squeak

How do we counter the nonsense out there? I think it comes from us thinking about the items. Just because something is "clean" doesn't make it good; just because something is "a little dirty" doesn't make it bad.

In one of my series, murder is committed using belladonna berries which are highly poisonous. They look pretty, and edible, but are lethal. On the other hand, when my dad makes applesauce, he often picks up the fallen fruit then washes them clean before using them. There might be some bad spots, and their might be some deformities, but all in all the apples are still good.

We need to recognize the good and the bad in things. Are there superficial elements that cause troubles or are there deeper issues that cause concern? Deeper issues need to be dealt with; superficial issues can be washed off.

It's going to take the Christian community a concerted effort to distinguish between deep issues and superficial issues. It will take each person time to develop a sense of good and bad, but as we do so we are able to discern the diamonds in the rough.


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