Cognitive Dissonance: psychological conflict resulting from incongruous beliefs and attitudes held simultaneously
My wife Julie and I don’t watch much television, for reasons you’ll understand shortly, but when we do, we prefer the cozy mysteries produced in Britain, the one I reference here being Midsomer Murders. With Netflix, we can watch season after season without interruption.
We both enjoy Midsomer Murders, but like most shows today, the producers and writers have an agenda that aligns with a worldview, and a recent story-line featured that worldview. The narrative portrayed a sympathetic, Hugh Hefner like character, replete with a mansion full of scantily clad, busty young women, hosting wild parties with young, vibrant attendees shown having an uproariously good time. The plot pitted the playboy and his entourage against the local church, which featured old, unhappy, bigoted and evil, vicars, elders, and church ladies. It didn’t take long to see where the plot was headed and sure enough, the bad guys turned out to be, you guessed it, the pious, behaving any way other than saintly, followers of Christ.
And then, the next night and two episodes later, three mysterious murders end up being committed by a nasty, evil man, full of hate, jealousy and anger. Guess who? The local vicar in the church, of course. Who else would commit such horrendous acts?
But, do these portrayals, and they are prevalent, match up with what I know to be true? Do they correspond with common sense derived from personal experience? The truth is, I associate with, work with, go to church with, am related to, and have numerous friends who are Christians, none of whom exhibit any of the characteristics ascribed to them by the media. Of those whom I encounter on an ongoing basis, most are happy, kind, and generous, good citizens who pay taxes, follow the law, and make every attempt to raise their children to be respectful of others. Of course there are exceptions, but in the main, my experience and common sense profoundly contradict the caricatures offered via today’s entertainment.
And thus, cognitive dissonance. And when cognitive dissonance sets in, internal conflict arises. And a struggle ensues. Here’s the dilemma: What do I believe, that which I know to be true, or the constant pounding of a contrary worldview, the opposite of my own?
After watching the second show, we both agreed that we didn’t care for the slant. I asked my wife if she could recall any show or movie, in recent memory, that portrayed a minister, preacher, clergyman, elder, deacon, etc., in a positive light. Neither of us could. I also asked her, in recent memory, to name any main protagonist in a movie or show, portrayed as having a strong faith in God. Again, neither of us could. In fact, most lead characters are either agnostic, atheist, secularist, and rather than remain neutral, they express negative views regarding people of faith. The ignorant rubes. Yes, I’m a fool for Christ.
So, what to do? The short answer, watch less television, movies, and nightly news.
But a better answer comes from Proverbs 19:27- Stop listening to teaching that contradicts what you know is right.