Here’s the latest from the crossroads of faith, media & culture: 08/20/21

The conservative Convention of States Action, in partnership with The Trafalgar Group—which the poll-tracking site FiveThirtyEight lists as one of America’s more accurate pollsters (A-) – just released the results of a new national survey conducted August 14th through August 16th of over 1,000 likely 2022 election voters. The results are likely to be in line with what your gut is telling you – that the majority of Americans range from being not very optimistic about the future of the country to not optimistic at all.

Here are the key takeaways:

●       52.8% of American voters say they are not optimistic about the future of America—28.8% say not optimistic at all, while 24% say not very optimistic.

●       43.7% of American voters say they are optimistic about the future of America—16.6% say very optimistic, while 27.1% say somewhat optimistic.

●       Only 3.4% of Americans have no opinion.

●       62.9% of Independent voters say they are not optimistic about the future of America—29.5% say not optimistic at all, while 33.4% say not very optimistic.

●       32.8% of Independent voters are optimistic about the future of America—12.4% say very optimistic, while 20.4% say somewhat optimistic.

●       65.4% of Republican voters say they are not optimistic about the future of America—43.5% say not optimistic at all, while 21.9% say not very optimistic.

●      31% of Republican voters are optimistic about the future of America—7.1% say very optimistic, while 23.9% say somewhat optimistic.

●       35.1% of Democrat voters say they are not optimistic about the future of America—14.9% say not optimistic at all, while 20.2% say not very optimistic. 62.2% of Democrat voters are optimistic about the future of America—27.9% say very optimistic, while 34.3% say somewhat optimistic.

IMHO: One could imagine these numbers growing more pessimistic as the Biden Administration’s seeming incompetence and impotence amid the fall of Kabul becomes ever more painfully clear. With thousands of Americans and the Afghans who supported us now trapped behind enemy lines and our allies and enemies questioning American resolve, the situation looks to get a lot uglier before it gets better. Meanwhile, as the threat of terrorism rises, the Administration continues in its complete abdication of our southern border control responsibility – amid a pandemic, no less.

And, speaking of the pandemic, while I personally support vaccinations and wearing masks in public areas (if only as a courtesy reflecting the concerns and possible vulnerabilities of others), it’s hard not to get the feeling that our federal government is using the very real health emergency as a means to divide, distract and control the population. Again, viable vaccines are great – but why so little attention to therapeutics that can help people who do get sick? It just adds to the impression of an Administration trying to manipulate a crisis rather than solve it.

That manipulation for social control extends from the government through an education-media-big tech complex that pushes messages of America-shaming, racial tension and despair over the future into every young mind and every aspect of our society. Instead of celebrating all the evils our ancestors overcame and learning from their human failings, we are encouraged (though actual encouragement hardly seems the goal) to hate our past, self-divide into competing tribes and await government edicts on bracing for dire events foretold by supposedly infallible scientists. Debates about everything from abortion to climate change to election security are pretty much taken off the table. Forgiveness, grace, freedom, gratitude and tolerance and other eternal values of positive faith and traditional liberalism are replaced by a secular Woke religion that doesn’t seem particularly fond of any of those concepts.

And then, throw in out-of-control, inflation-producing government spending and you pretty much have the ingredients of a pessimism pie chart and a return to late seventies-style national malaise.

One key difference between now and, say, 1979 is that our entertainment back then actually seemed aimed at entertaining and enlightening us rather than lecturing and virtue signaling at us. The top TV shows included escapist offerings like Three’s Company, M*A*S*H, The Jeffersons, One Day at a Time and Eight is Enough. While entertaining, those shows would often take on the issues of the day but usually without the superior attitude. Likewise at the movies, Big Screen versions of Superman and Star Trek celebrated our cultural touchstones rather reimagining them through a Woke lens.

Beyond that, we actually went out to watch movies together in theaters and the TV shows we watched for free at home and at the same time were wide ranging but finite. Today, we have seemingly endless assortment of entertainment choices that we watch whenever we want and often alone. At first glance, that’s great – but at what point do the mediums that once united us in shared cultural experiences now divide us into multiple enclaves?

The Road Ahead. Of course, if more of the content focused on things like kindness and hope – rather than shame and anger – that might be less of an issue. Toward that end, there is something coming down the pike that may meet the moment.

Lifetime has just dropped the trailer for its reboot of Michael Landon’s iconic 80s television series Highway to Heaven. The TV-movie stars Jill Scott (Black Lightning) as Angela Stewart, an angel sent back to earth to help others in need. Barry Watson (7th Heaven) co-stars as Bruce Banks, the junior high school principal recruited to work with her. Additional films are planned and a new weekly series certainly seems possible. I’m guessing that would make Barry Watson the first actor to star in two shows with the word “Heaven” in the title.

Anyway, I some thoughts about the outlook for the revival following the trailer below.

The new Highway to Heaven is produced by Rain Productions and Propagate. Cindy Landon and Wayne Lepff are executive producing on behalf of Michael Landon’s estate.

IMHO: This is not the first time a reboot of Highway to Heaven has been on the drawing board. In 2014 Lifetime’s sister network A&E was on the brink of producing an “edgy” revival that was to be executive produced by Mark Wahlberg. The current version seems to be wisely eschewing the “edginess” in favor of a more uplifting tone. Some kindness and escapism may be just what the audience is seeking during a period that, like the late 70s, is quite edgy enough. If the TV films are promoted well and the producers avoid undermining the concept with tiresome and self-conscious Wokism, Lifetime may find itself with the sort of surprise hit Rotten Tomatoes-approved critics never see coming.

End Note: I’ll be taking off for a little bit to enjoy the end of summer. See you on September 1st.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11
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