Monday, September 15, 2014

Watching TV, Reading Scripture

“Come out of her, my people” (Revelation 18:4, New Revised Standard Version, here and following).

Let us take a deep breath and recall, briefly, that we have but one true god. He revealed to us his name: Yahweh. He remains the god of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob embodied by Jesus Christ.

In contrast, we have six false but universally worshiped gods: (1) Jupiter, god of politics; (2) Mars, god of war; (3) Vulcan, god of technology; (4) Venus, goddess of sex; (5) Pluto, god of money; and (6) Bacchus, god of consumption. We may refer to these as the Olympian gods and to the religion based upon them as Olympianity.

Yahweh is so unconventional because he remains the god of freedom and so of truth, love, and vitality.

In contrast, the six false gods are so conventional because they are the gods of power, of control, and so of falsehood, indifference, and death.

All societies and cultures on earth are primarily Olympian in nature. They structure themselves in terms of the six Olympian gods. They do so more intensely each day because of the Global Technological System (GTS) which both embodies Olympianity and ceaselessly pressures them all to increasingly conform to its demands.

In contrast, the Church should be Christian. It should be structured in terms of Jesus Christ. Sadly, it isn’t. Even if it takes a sigh, let us confess that our churches are also structured primarily in terms of devotion to the gods of politics, war, technology, sex, money, and consumption.

Since the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, all human beings have two distinct personalities. One is Olympian, based on the beliefs, values, and norms of the six Olympian gods; the other is Christian, based on the beliefs, values, and norms of Jesus.

We each have an Olympian and a Christian personality. Among Olympians, the Christian personality is weaker and often poorly developed. Among Christians, the Christian personality should be the stronger of the two. Sadly, it usually isn’t.

The clearest, most universal, instantaneous, constant, and inescapable witness we have to the six conventional gods is TV. No matter what else it might be, could be, or should be, it is this beyond doubt. It exemplifies what virtually all other mass media of communication—movies, radio, magazines, newspapers, books, the internet—are as well.

Further, as prophetic witnesses to Jesus, we do well to recognize that these mass media of communication are controlled by very Olympian elites. These elites have very Olympian goals. They use the mass media to control the rest of us by keeping us Olympian in ways that are helpful to them. So they use the mass media, especially TV, to agitate, tranquilize, and distract us as they see fit.

Because we Christians fail to understand this, we as individuals and together as churches have failed to live as faithful witnesses to Jesus. Instead, we are unintentionally and thoroughly Olympian.

Jesus says we can tell a tree by its fruit (Matthew 7:15-20). The agenda and content of our Sunday worship, our ways of interpreting the Bible, the way we live, what we talk about, what most excites us: all of these ways of thinking, feeling, and acting are determined by TV and the gods who lie behind it.

Today Jesus is calling us to do better. Let us recall these words from Revelation (18:4-5):

Then I heard another voice from heaven saying,
“Come out of her, my people, so that you do not take part in her sins,
And so that you do not share in her plagues;
for her sins are heaped high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.”

Rather than immersing ourselves in TV and the Olympian worldview which it serves, Jesus invites us instead to abandon the former and come out of the latter. Our Christian personalities, and the Christian nature of our churches, simply cannot withstand the overwhelmingly Olympian nature of TV and other mass media. Expecting Jesus to keep our Christian personalities strong while we immerse ourselves in Olympian media would be to put him to the test.

Instead of that, Jesus invites us now to immerse ourselves in the Bible, to develop the Christian point of view which it expresses, to strengthen our Christian personalities and the Christian nature of our churches, and to witness more clearly to the truth, freedom, love, and vitality that are ours through him.

Copyright © 2014 by Steven Farsaci. All rights reserved.