Continuing my exploration of America, I have discovered that there are some very questionable TV shows. I cannot claim that I have spent time watching them (is anything more boring than pornography?). But I have read attacks on them and defenses of them and in the process find myself in familiar territory.

In my homeland, Australia, as in America, it is contended that in times like these this kind of show is permissible, indeed laudable, for this is the way life is. The show is said to be holding up a mirror to life, as the arts should do. Perhaps some old-fashioned people do not like this sort of thing. But they are not typical of this generation.

As a generation we are shocked by nothing. We seem rather proud of this and regard it as a virtue. But is it? It implies a profoundly pessimistic view of mankind. People who can’t be shocked confess by that fact that they expect nothing better. They have a very low view of their fellow human beings. To be immune from being shocked is to be a thoroughgoing pessimist.

In a way, the Christian goes along with this estimate of human nature. He accepts the doctrine of original sin and sees evil people as the necessary consequence. He is no starry-eyed innocent, anticipating that if only we follow the advice of our latest prophet all our ills will be overcome. It is the most natural thing in the world that sin will come from sinful human beings. So when war succeeds to war, when mankind will not learn to live at peace, when greed leads to inflation and unemployment, when people make fortunes out of pornography, the Christian is not surprised. He is grieved and he may even be shocked, but he is not astonished. Since the race is a sinful one, this is the kind of thing that must be expected. ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.