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Giving the trumpet a certain sound

July 2008

Violence on TV

In a somewhat controversial effort to get more viewer (and make more money) the CBS network will begin broadcasting mixed martial arts shows. The star of the show goes by Kimbo Slice, described as a "bald, bearded former strip-club bouncer, whose ability to make people bleed has made him a media superstar ..."

Mixed martial arts (MMA) is described as combining elements of "boxing, kickboxing, wrestling, jujitsu and other disciplines." The bouts take place in cages with bare knuckles and are described as violent and bloody.

Plenty of people are ticked that these violent, bloody bouts will air on free TV. Even CBS executive chairman Sumner Redstone has said that while the move makes business sense, he doesn't personally like the sport and thinks airing it is not "socially responsible" (but, he says, the network's president and CEO Les Moonves calls the shots). ("Kimbo Slice Gets His Prime-Time Shot," www.time.com, May 30, 2008.

While the move is a risk for CBS, it's major milestone for MMA, whose growth has been one of the decade's most stunning sports business success stories. For the first time a live MMA fight will be broadcast on one of the big four networks, an extraordinary feat for a sport that, just 10 or so years ago, was roundly derided as "human cockfighting." At first, the caged bouts were fought in the shadows, since the sport was banned in almost every state (it is now sanctioned in 33). But MMA now draws strong ratings on the cable channel Spike TV, and is a money-maker on pay-per-view; in 2007, the Ultimate Fighting Championship, MMA's dominant promoter, secured over $200 million in pay-per-view revenues, up from some $40 million in 2005. (ibid.)

The network needs to balance the expectations of rabid fans with those of new casual viewers, who will have to be spoon-fed MMA 101. "The challenge is that we have to serve two audiences," says Kahl. "We don't want to talk down to the hard-core fans, but we also can't alienate first-time viewers." Also, the network isn't exactly offering the sport prime real estate on the schedule [Saturday nights], though CBS insists this is the best way to ease novel programming into the mainstream. (ibid.)

What is happening? Are bored affluent audiences demanding more and more shocking violence?

Inspired commentary

Much of popular society seems to be trending toward the dissipation and violence of ancient Rome. Some last-day event or combination of events will (according to inspiration) produce a tipping point to produce persecution again.

These persecutions, beginning under Nero about the time of the martyrdom of Paul, continued with greater or less fury for centuries. Christians were falsely accused of the most dreadful crimes and declared to be the cause of great calamities -- famine, pestilence, and earthquake. As they became the objects of popular hatred and suspicion, informers stood ready, for the sake of gain, to betray the innocent. They were condemned as rebels against the empire, as foes of religion, and pests to society. Great numbers were thrown to wild beasts or burned alive in the amphitheaters. Some were crucified; others were covered with the skins of wild animals and thrust into the arena to be torn by dogs. Their punishment was often made the chief entertainment at public fetes. Vast multitudes assembled to enjoy the sight and greeted their dying agonies with laughter and applause. (The Great Controversy, p. 40)

Farewell, Fair Weather

While there is still some controversy about the causes, the statistical occurrence of extreme weather give cause for deep concern. A recent article by New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow expresses some of those concerns:

According to the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters, there have been more than four times as many weather-related disasters in the last 30 years than in the previous 75 years. The United States has experienced more of those disasters than any other country.

Just this month, a swarm of tornadoes shredded the central states. California and Florida have been scorched by wildfires, and a crippling drought in the Southeast has forced Georgia to authorize plans for new reservoirs. ...

Furthermore, a White House report about the effect of global climate change on the United States issued Thursday (years late and under court order) reaffirmed that the situation will probably get worse: In addition to temperature extremes, "precipitation is likely to be less frequent but more intense. It is also likely that future hurricanes will become more intense, with higher peak speeds and more heavy precipitation... ."

This increase is deadly and disruptive -- and could become economically unbearable.

According to the National Hurricane Center, 10 of the 30 costliest American hurricanes have struck since 2000, even after adjusting the figures for inflation and the cost of construction. ("Farewell, Fair Weather," New York Times, May 31, 2008)

Inspired commentary

We have an individual work to do to prepare for the great events that are before us. The youth should seek God more earnestly. The tempest is coming, and we must get ready for its fury, by having repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord will arise to shake terribly the earth. We shall see troubles on all sides. Thousands of ships will be hurled into the depths of the sea. Navies will go down, and human lives will be sacrificed by millions. Fires will break out unexpectedly, and no human effort will be able to quench them. The palaces of earth will be swept away in the fury of the flames. Disasters by rail will become more and more frequent; confusion, collision, and death without a moment's warning will occur on the great lines of travel. The end is near, probation is closing. Oh, let us seek God while he may be found, call upon him while he is near! (Messages to Young People, p. 89, 90.)

California Supreme Court on Same-sex Marriage

The California Supreme Court recently ruled on the constitutionality (in California) of same-sex marriage:

The California Supreme Court ruled yesterday that gays have a constitutional right to marry, striking down state laws that forbade it, in a decision that is likely to reenergize the election-year debate over same-sex marriages and gay rights.

The 4 to 3 ruling opened the way for the nation's most populous state to join Massachusetts in allowing partners of the same sex to marry. The court's order becomes final in 30 days, and it told county clerks and registrars to prepare.

Marriage is a "basic civil right" guaranteed to all Californians, "whether gay or heterosexual, and to same-sex couples as well as to opposite-sex couples," Chief Justice Ronald M. George wrote in a 121-page ruling. He repeatedly said the ruling was based on the California court's first-in-the-nation decision in 1948 to end the state's prohibition on interracial marriage, nearly 20 years before the U.S. Supreme Court took the same action.

The decision sparked a joyous celebration outside the court in San Francisco, but the victory for gay rights groups could be short-lived. Before the ruling, a conservative coalition submitted more than 1 million signatures to place a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage on the November ballot. ("California Supreme Court Strikes Bans on Same-Sex Marriage," www.washingtonpost.com, May 16, 2008)

Inspired commentary

The apostle Paul wrote about the social situation in the last days.

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 2 Timothy 3:1-4

Page created:06/12/08. Updated: 06/12/08
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