I love to travel to the Middle East.
I love the people – such warmth, such hospitality! The food – outstanding taste, fresh, and healthy! The sights – deserts, mountains, seas – beautiful!
But there is one thing in the Middle East that I hate. I don’t use the word “hate” lightly. I really do hate this part of life there.
What is it?
Well, a hint: it doesn’t originate in the Middle East. It comes from – I am embarrassed and ashamed to say – my beloved home country of America.
What is it?
Specifically, Hollywood movies.
Not all Hollywood movies, of course. A lot of wonderful movies come from Hollywood – movies that tell great stories, movies that make us laugh (with good, clean humor that is), movies that inspire us in amazing ways.
No, what I am talking about is the all too prevalent trash that we see every time we travel in the Middle East and see a TV: in our hotel room, in a majelis (special room in or near a home for entertaining guests), in a restaurant (where TV’s are always on), or even at a camp in the desert (yes, I was invited to come and sit with men around a large firepit under the stars where a big screen TV was blaring nearby from an electric generator!). Sadly, what do we see coming from these televisions?
Foul language, extreme violence, sensuality, immodesty, immorality, drunkenness, the use of drugs, and the degrading of women – all from Hollywood.
Case in point: we were traveling from Amman in Jordan to the fabulous ancient city of Petra. On the 4 hour tour bus ride, they played a Hollywood movie (something about a bank robbery). I don’t know how many “f” words they used but I would estimate that there was one about every 3-4 minutes. It was that common, that bad. As my wife and I sat on that bus, we were embarrassed to be Americans. Ashamed at the filthy language and violence. We prayed, “God, forgive our country! Forgive us for exporting this horrible trash to the Middle East – and all over the world!”
To my Christian readers from America: do you realize that many people in the Middle East equate “American” with “Christian”? Now think about that as it relates to Hollywood movies! It logically follows (in many of their minds) that Christians in America are what? You guessed it. Immoral, violent people.
Yes, there is one thing in the Middle East that I hate.
But it doesn’t come from the Middle East.
It comes from America.
It comes from Hollywood.
“Let those who love the Lord hate evil” (Psalm 97:10 in the Zabur, the Holy Book of King Dawud/David).
(Postscript: If any of you American Christian readers ever travel to the Middle East – or meet someone from the Middle East in the States – try to show them that trashy Hollywood movies like these do not represent our Christian faith at all. Try to show by your behavior and conversation how important purity, morality, and peace-making are to you as followers of Jesus!)