9.12.05

The Soft Glow of Monstrosity

TV scares me. I am not some luddite, and I am not about to bemoan the poor moral guidelines governing, and presented, by/on TV. No, television scares me because I enjoy it so much.

I am a person with a ‘low entertainment threshold.” That’s a term I think I made up, and it means that I am easily entertained; I am not incapable of criticism, and I do have a limit, but in general I can watch pretty bad shows and still enjoy myself. Frankly though, I have no time to watch bad shows.

“Of course he has no time, he is married and in seminary”

Unfortunately, it’s not what you think, not at all. I have no time to watch bad shows because there are so many good shows to watch, and watch them I do. This is exactly why TV scares me; it seems to be getting better and better at entertaining me. It used to be that I had to struggle to find something to watch. I enjoyed Star Trek (before Deep Space Nine), I liked movies, and like every one else on this planet I watched the occasional episode of Simpsons. Its not that there was nothing else on; I just didn’t really get into any of it. Now I am inundated with the number of shows I enjoy, and this doesn’t even get into Japanese Anime.

This was, after all, the goal right? We seek entertainment, leisure, the ultimate individualization; I can do/eat/watch/have what I want, when I want it, and how I want it. The commodification of all things marches on, and I am a happy consumer.

Yet there is a growing awareness, a shadow spreading from the nether regions of my mind, and it whispers to me in those moments before sleep. It whispers that I am being consumed, eaten away and replaced by pulp, or by cool whip. I am shown flashes of a different life that I can almost want, almost see, and I am left to wonder. Words from Neil Postman fade in and out: “Am.s.ng o.rse.ves to de.th."

And amidst it all I have to think. Millions of dollars are spent on research, on advertisement, on supermarket layout, color schemes, and the right music to play, the effects of various input on human decision making, and it works. How much am I being controlled, and who might I be apart from TV?

2.12.05

The Path from Lament to Praise

"The route from obedience to praise in the psalter is only through lament"

One of the classes I am in is Old Testament Foundations, and this week we did "Songs of Exile: Psalms, Lamentations, and Song of Songs". I found this to be a very comforting and freeing lecture.

The most common type of psalm in the psalter is a song of lament, however all but one of them has moved to praise by time they are finished. Indeed, the entire book of Psalms, in a rough way, is organized to move from Lament to Praise, beggining in and encompassed by obedience. The whole process culminates in the last Psalms in the book, which are the most extravagent songs of praise in the bible.

In my own life, I have found that having faith in Christ and a relationship with God has often led me into a time of lament. Its not a uniform thing; and no I don't view God as some angry God bearing down on me. I lament over the state of the church, the lostness of the world, the delirious tragedy which is our world. Certainly, there are times of Joy, and I am very thankful for all the good things God has given me; I can hardly claim to have had a hard life, compared to my fellow canadians, not to mention anyone not living in a first world country. Yet, I am moved by compassion, and often at the edge of despair because of my inability to do anything about the awful things around me. Meanwhile, I have felt faintly guilty about these feelings and thoughts; after all, Jesus has died for our salvation, and he is returning to take us to our heavenly home.

Now I see that though we are to take joy in all things, that doesn't have to be some immediate response, I can and should live through my lament, crying out to God to do something, so that I can come to an honest place of praise and be strengthened to cotinue to live in obedience. I can't honestly see how it works, there just are not 3 steps from lament to praise, and if you read the psalms it is all rather sudden, but I can testify from experience that it really can work this way; of course it can be a much longer and more painful process as well. No matter what though, God is who we can turn to with our cries, and not only can we but we must.

If you couldn't cry out to God about injustice, pain, suffering, and evil then how long would it be before no one cried out at all?