Anyone who has an interest in American culture outside of current pop-culture, knows of Mickey Rooney. Though he was part of my parents’ generation, I loved his energetic, entertaining, movies and variety shows. When he grew into dramatic roles, he became a compelling actor second to none.
I discovered his passing from the MSN news site, where they gave him a bit of a tribute. In that tribute they wrote, “Rooney (in the role of Andy Hardy) came to embody America as it wished it could be — ebullient, kindhearted and picturesquely provincial. In essence, he brought the soda shop to our screens.”
Hollywood often painted idyllic pictures of small-town life back then; after WWII, lots of folks were sick of grit and bloodshed, and longed for the old naiveté, at least on the silver screen. Based on their description of Mickey Rooney and his early pictures, the folks at MSN seem to hold a rather low view of mid-twentieth century, Midwestern American culture.
Okay, I’ll give them the benefit of doubt and dig into some of the adjectives MSN used: “Ebullient” means enthusiastic, and even I can’t find anything wrong with that. Even MSN seems to think being kindhearted is a creditable characteristic. But then they label his portrayals as, “picturesquely provincial,” which gives the patronizing impression of quaintness.
The definition of “provincial” includes words like rustic, unsophisticated, narrow, intolerant, and parochial. When did “unsophisticated” become an unfavorable label? I’ve seen sophisticates who would just as soon stab you in the back as say hello. And, “narrow,” or “intolerant”? If “unsophisticated” wasn’t intended as a disrespectful label, those can be nothing else, at least in the popular vernacular.
To me, broad-mindedness implies a lack of moral convictions or, a “Whatever turns your crank” ideology. The problem with such libertine inclinations is their cost to society, and the personal tragedies they produce. What sober person can wonder why God, in the Old Testament, condemns such lifestyles?
And liberalism is a whole can of worms in itself. It doesn’t simply reflect which side of the political aisle one sympathizes with, but a world view. It usually embodies a desire for change, for little more than change’s sake, in hopes of arriving at a more equitable governmental structure. The problem with attempting socio-political reform with such arbitrary shotgun approaches is their sweeping nature; they “throw out the baby with the bath water.”
According to God’s Word, God never changes, thus, his standards never change. Should we, then, still adhere to barbaric legal codes that were alleged to be from God? Never! In fact, all human law reflects ungodly compromises for privileged classes, even in so-called egalitarian democracies. But that wouldn’t be the case if God’s laws were enacted and enforced by godly people.
The great problem is, even in Christendom, ungodly legal codes prevail, simply because churches are more often ruled by fallible human beings than by God. The word “liberal” is related “liberty,” which is another word for freedom. Should we, then, liberalize our laws to make them more civilized? Only if such liberalizing reflects our freedom in Christ Jesus, and that will never happen in this fallen, sinful world.
Thing is, only those truly (not allegedly) reborn in Christ Jesus and sanctified by his Holy Spirit can handle unrestricted freedom, as only they are free from sin’s corruption. The only laws those true saints know are the laws Jesus gave us while he was here: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and soul, and and the second is like it; love your neighbor as yourself. All the law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”
Andy Hardy reflected the ideal of guileless innocence, which is a wonderful thing in children, but not even he could be trusted to rule humanity with equity, justice, and godly love.