This is a reposting of a blog I just wrote for my new Broken Clocks section of my band’s main blog at www.thelastcityformiles.com.  The mood fit this blog better, but the purpose fit the other.

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(Please Read Introduction First for Disclaimer)

I think the fastest I have ever driven a car was about 10 years ago, on the two mile strip between the Forest Drive and Leesburg Road exits on I-77.  I don’t know for sure but it was well into triple digits, in a car that was already ten years old, and had such bad alignment that the whole car, starting with the steering wheel, would shake at any speed above 60mph.  I wasn’t under the influence of anything illegal…the only thing messing with my mind was the two hours I had just spent injecting The Fast and the Furious directly into my brain.

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I am not a bad driver, actually I’m a rather safe driver (based on my accident and near collisions record, not on my speeding tickets…) but that day I went well pass the 10-to-15-over-the-limit my conscious and wallet allowed.

I recently watched a self-censored version of Don Jon on Netflix (fair warning to you all, it more than lives up to its R-rating).  The synopsis caught my eye, and truth be told, for me the “moral” at the end was worth the frequent “oh, look, what’s that on my foot that I should stare at for a while” moments.  Spoiler Alert.

The main character is addicted (or by his definition just a HUGE fan) of porn, and while he is a ladies’ man with his choice of the fish in any sea, he admits to prefering the women on the laptop screen to the women in his bed.  Why?  Because the girls in this fantasy world will do whatever he wants, say whatever he wants, won’t try to change him, and require no real commitment.  Until finally he meets HER…

The “Perfect Ten” (appropriately played by Scarlett Johansen) isn’t like the “others“. She makes him wait, teases, forces him into a certain level of commitment, then when he is uh, shall we say “fully ready to commit”, she finally, uh…blesses him.  And then he’s found it.  The experience, the stars-aligning moment where for a time, fantasy and reality mix and mingle.

However, in an astounding, completely unpredictable, mind-blowing turn of events, one day she is no longer enough, and he goes back again to what always offered him the experience he wanted.  Fast-forward; she catches him (a few times), they break up, and months later, they meet up again for that “closure” talk.  She berates him, saying that essentially, if he loved her enough, he would do anything for her, and she is worth a man who will do everything she wants and be everything she needs.  He walks away with the conclusion that she was as deceived by her romantic movie porn as he was from his own little cinematic adventures.

So…Porn and Worship…

1)  “Porn” offers an experience that can most likely never be real, or if so, only for a moment

2)  “Porn” creates unnatural expectations that, even when you are well aware that it is impossible, distort your interaction with the real world

3)  “Porn” does nothing to prepare you for what is real, and may impair your ability to cope with reality

4)  “Porn” is empty in word, substance and representation of reality

5)  “Porn” is escapism, and never an answer to real problems, often only amplifying them

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You only need to check the gross earnings of 50 Shades of Grey and Twilight to see that these and other kinds of “female porn” are not limited to a little niche of deviants.  Substitute “female porn” for “porn” and the 5 things listed above all fit perfectly.

Now I want you to go back through them and substitute “worship“.

Before you either condemn my apostasy or grab torches and a stake, let me define what I mean by “worship” in this case.

By “worship”, I mean something with the lyrical depth of a third grade poem (minus the occasional biblical reference for good measure) and the musicality of a third grade composition (minus the occasional secondary dominant thrown around in minor mode).

By “worship” I mean a hackneyed chorus with all the swooping promises of love, loyalty and unlimited offering that made Edward Cullen a romantic demigod.  Here’s a fun game, see how many lines you can think of that you’ve heard both in the climactic build to the kiss in the rain and the climactic build of the bridge to the drop-off.

“You are my everything”

“What would i do without you?”

“I love you more than life itself”

“Just dance with me”

‘I would do anything for you”

(Mid-rant rant: Buckley styleThis is just as much a symptom of the church culture as it is the American/Japanese/other-places-I-could-name-but-won’t-because-I-haven’t-had-the-personal-experience culture. I could just as easily go after the fact that one of the highest honors and signs of musicianship nowadays is doing the best YouTube cover, aka copy of someone else’s song.  It doesn’t matter that you did it acoustic, and it doesn’t help that your originals sound exactly like every other cover on your channel…I’m …gonna go back to my first soapbox now

By “worship”, I mean something that is intentionally designed to disengage the mind.  And I don’t mean that complex is better than simple, or that getting lost in a song is wrong.  I just mean that rest is not the same thing as escapism.  The same as going to see a movie is not the same as binging on Netflix.  The same as thinking that a girl is beautiful is not the same as lusting after her.

By “worship” I mean something that produces all of the feelings, emotions and atmosphere of how we want things to be without producing or defining any of the actions that follow, or the awareness of the limits of the fantasy.  It would suck if a three year old didn’t pretend to be an astronaut because he was convinced it was a pipe-dream, unrealistic and a waste of time.  But it would be absolute insanity for the same kid to hit high school and college, and be convinced he is an astronaut because he watches Apollo 13 every weekend.

I don’t think it is constructive anymore to simply bash something.  I (and many, many others out there) get an uncanny joy out of pulling back the shades on whatever is masquerading around as the answer to all our problems.  However, I am becoming more and more convinced that it is not simply poor taste but callous and inhumane to run around spewing disdain, whether you’re right or not, without either offering help or empathizing in your common unknowns.  In a world where so many people are desperately piecing together a house-of-cards happiness, the last thing we need are people running around kicking dirt on them.

So here’s a unexpected conclusion…even for me.  I launched into this blog on a high-horse of righteous indignation, ready to take a katana and slaughter some lies like some kind of Truth Ninja.  But there are more than enough people out there happy to get blood on their hands for what is “right”.

How many people are willing to get someone else’s tears on their shoulder even if they are wrong?

I am certainly not saying that porn is ok, or the effects aren’t horrific for everyone involved.  But neither is the empty, formulaic romance movie that puts discontentment and misplaced, self-centered expectations in the hearts of girls and women.  And it’s far from ok for songwriters, worship leaders, and congregations to produce and promote vapid, repetitive, commercialized “worship” and sell an experience for 10% of your income and the cost of a cd/mp3.

The problem now is this; none of these things are going to be substantially changed by a blog post, a petition, or even a law.  The only thing I know to do is start being real, and be ok with it.  Life is potentially boring.  Good sex is work, and…potentially routine.  Relationships are dirty, painful, and have a lot more valleys than peaks.  The Christian walk is sometimes empty, passionless, filled with doubt…scary even, the deeper you go into the dark side of the Bible.  The illusion of a world without these feelings, or with a clear purpose and answer in the absence of perfection, or with a fast-forward-montage/left-click/”perfect”-verse to help us skip to the easy part is dangerous, but still alluring.  Almost addictive.  Scratch that.  Absolutely addictive.

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And that’s the only way I can end this.  I would be both over-simplifying and hypocritical if I wrapped it all up in a bow.  But this is the only point I can stand by…don’t take the easy way out.  Wrestle with it.  Be bored, feel stagnant.  You may never feel your cup-overfloweth, but two drops of the real thing are worth an ocean of emptiness.