Tag Archives: censorship

The Power of a Blog

Some people measure their blog’s success in views and visitors. For others, the measurement might be the number of armed policemen who show up in the middle of the night.

The news out of Hong Kong reminded me that I’ve had this draft post in the hopper, waiting to be completed.

I recently completed a Mandarin-Chinese language refresher course.

As part of our exposure to cultural issues, our teacher brought a documentary called “High Tech, Low Life” which followed the lives of two Chinese bloggers and their experiences dealing with China’s governmental restrictions on expression.

Here’s the trailer.


One is a man in his fifties, who goes by the name Tiger Temple. He refuses to be called a “citizen blogger” because creating a label or category like that invites government crackdown and restrictions on what “citizen bloggers” are permitted to write.

The other is a man in his twenties, Zhou Shuguang, who is well on his way to a form of celebrity status on the Internet. He is even invited to speak to a worldwide forum in Germany about China’s web restrictions and his blogging experiences.

I watched with interest and was challenged by thoughts about the power of this concept called a “blog.”

At one point, ten armed policemen come for Tiger Temple, swarming the humble older man in his temporary home. They pack him into a van and drive him back to his hometown several hours away from the city.

Why? To quell fears that his communicated thoughts or even mere presence might create a disturbance to the status quo during an important conference of Communist leadership.

All because a man jots down his experiences and thoughts about life happening around him.

Tiger Temple writes because he sees it as a way of showing the real situation wherever he is, and a way to ensure that the voiceless get their stories heard.

Zhou Shuguang makes it clear he has no such altruistic thoughts about the purpose of his online activities. He’s not out to make a political scene to defend someone else or call out the government about an issue unrelated to him. But he still stands as an example of someone demanding the basic rights and freedoms of humanity – the right to think as we desire and speak as we like. His focus may be self-centered but his action still benefits many.

This made me wonder: Do I value my ability to communicate freely the way these men do? Would I suffer personal loss or some level of government oppression to keep saying whatever I want on the Internet?

It’s easy to say whatever I want when hitting “Post” costs me nothing.

Blindsided by Reality

So the church has a new target in its ongoing war against the “corruption of our youth” and the dangers of our culture. 

The movie “The Blind Side.”

Yes, the one with Sandra Bullock that came out a few years ago. The one about the family that takes in a troubled kid and gets him playing football, where he thrives and rises to fame in the NFL. The one based (perhaps loosely) on a true story.

It was a nice feel-good movie for most audiences. For Christians, it was a rare chance to see Hollywood show us a Christian character instead of a caricature.

It’s for your own good.
Because we said so.

But apparently there were some potty mouths in the movie at some point. So it needs to be taken off the shelves at the local Christian bookstore, because… I don’t know, THINK OF THE CHILDREN!

Here’s CNN’s Belief Blog with the article.

I understand why some Christians might object to profanity and taking God’s name in vain being in a movie. I know some religious people have a strict code about what is permissible and what is forbidden.

For example, bacon.

A good chunk of the world’s population can’t eat it without violating their faith. I applaud their resolve (and take their share).

Part of entertainment–not popcorn-chewing, mindless action fare, but the thought-provoking, sticks with you when you leave the theater or turn off the DVD kind–is portraying reality.

In life, people sometimes say bad words.

They sometimes do bad things.

They sometimes think bad thoughts.

It’s ok to admit that. It’s ok to see that on a silver screen. It might trigger a discussion with my kids or my friends (or with my own thoughts on the matter). It might force me to evaluate “Why do I believe what I believe about this? What are the consequences of this behavior? Does any good come out of this? Does anything harmful result?”

Imagine the thought of discussing with our kids the power of our words and the importance of how we communicate.

Or you can cover their ears so that they never hear someone drop an F-bomb. (Shock! They probably already have, when you weren’t around.)

Imagine the thought of explaining sexual purity to our kids and discussing the importance and value of healthy relationships.

Or you can cover their eyes lest they see cleavage on TV. (Newsflash, they’re probably already seeing the overly-sexualized images all around them at the grocery store checkout lane.)

Imagine the thought of talking with your kids about the value of life, the dangerous corruption that comes with power, and the many ways violence as a solution is no solution at all.

Or you can stop them from playing Halo or Call of Duty on the XBox. (Spoilers: they’re probably playing it at a friend’s house.)

We can’t live in a protected bubble where no mention or thought of sin ever sneaks past our careful defenses. Doing that separates us from the world around us. Christ didn’t tell us to form little safe communes in the middle of nowhere. He told us to go out into the world and make disciples.

We see Paul do that in the New Testament, and he encounters a lot of objectionable content as he travels. He advises the churches under his care about holiness and getting rid of sin that corrupts. At the same time, he uses the sin and the misguided beliefs of the people around him not as a wedge to create a separation but as a hook to lead them to the Gospel.

Paul doesn’t run from reality to hide in safety. He embraces reality to further the message.

If we look at the Bible, it has a lot of pretty objectionable content too. The movie, The Passion of the Christ is a popular Christian film, but it’s brutal and vicious in its depiction of blood and gore. And we celebrate that, because, hey, it’s Jesus.

“Violence is ok, but don’t say any bad words, don’t show any skin, and heaven help you if homosexuality is involved somehow!”

If all we do is find reasons why things are bad, we’ll end up living in our sheltered communities, avoiding any interaction with the people around us (the ones we say we love, right?). We’ll surround ourselves with all the “pure” things – until someone else figures out what’s wrong with them. We’ll be safe.

And we’ll be completely ineffective at accomplishing the purpose for which the church exists.