Thursday, November 17, 2005

Radio God

Last night I went to a private screening of a new documentary, "Mission to Matrimony," put together by a friend and co-worker of mine. It's excellent; look for it as it starts to make the rounds at film festivals.

During the long walk back to the subway through a cold, dark, drizzly lower Manhattan, the thought occurred to me that the spiritual mind is like a radio antenna. This antenna picks up all kinds of signals, and not everyone gets the same range or detects the same frequencies. Surely you know people who can tell exactly what you're thinking at a given moment; sometimes this occurs even with total strangers. Other times, some people just don't pick up on what you're trying to avoid having to say literally. We all know people who are just permanently disconnected from society. We say they "don't get it."

Some of us have the ability to connect with animals or nature at large. All of us, however, are hooked up to the two spiritual extremes. You might think of it like basic cable: not everyone has HBO, but we've all got CNN and Fox News. (Sorry, I'm getting cable on Saturday, it's on my brain.) We all get regular broadcasts from Light and Dark.

There are challenges, however. For example, you wouldn't tune into Darkness and hear heavy metal music followed by a DJ saying, "You're listening to Radio Satan! Coming up next, sounds of women screaming and a live broadcast of a cat being cut in half by a chainsaw, so don't touch that dial!" That would be too obvious.

Likewise, what we might call "Radio God" is not harp music alternating with Bible pleasantries and the latest from Kenny G. In fact, a lot of Radio God is telling us things we probably don't want to hear. God is not "easy listening."

If anything, Darkness would be the "easy listening" station. (Apologies to Burt Bacharach.) Goodness requires focus and dedication; Darkness is suited best to apathy.

It takes concentration and practice to keep tuned in to Radio God; different medium (but appropriate simile!), but Darkness is more like internet pop-ups, always distracting you and trying to get you to focus on something else.

The two "stations" are more alike than you might think. Just as propaganda is often disguised to look like real news, it's often difficult to distinguish between the two messages in your brain; in fact, one of Satan's most effective tools is to deceive you, by taking advantage of your arrogance, into thinking you are being moral when you are really being cruel.

The only way to tell the two apart is to submit your conscience to humility. If it's quick and easy, if you hear your mind telling you things like, "no one will notice" or "everybody does it," you need to adjust the frequency. When you hear yourself think, "This is hard, this might be unpleasant, but it's the right thing," stay tuned.


Anonymous said...

So what you're saying is that God is on NPR?

Jere said...

I don't mean to be flip, but I'm not sure I understand what you're saying here. Would "Christian" messages like "God Hates Fags" be included on Radio God or Radio Satan?

Even though we all get them, no one's arguing about the content of CNN or Fox News in this sense. There's no "I want to watch Anderson Cooper and he's on CNN." "Well, no...I've always been taught that Anderson Cooper was on Fox News and that is what I believe is right." "You believe Anderson Cooper is on Fox News? I'm going to wrap dynamite around my body and blow up one of your buses." "Please, can't we just accept that some people believe Anderson Cooper is on CNN and some believe he's on Fox News? Can't we all just get along?"

Absurd and extreme? Absolutely, but that sounds like what you're saying.

If God or Yahweh or Allah or whomever provided a straight-forward and consistant message that would be one thing. But, since we are relying on the clergy and who knows how many different translations of ancient texts that all say different thing, your Radio God would have wildly different programming and a person's understanding of even basic concepts like right and wrong would vary according to when he or she tuned in.

Andy said...

No, Jere, what I'm saying is that messages like "God Hates Fags" are not Christian; well, more than that, they don't come from God, even though the believer might think they do. It's the same as these demonic suicide bombings going on in the middle east, where thousands of innocent Muslims are being slaughtered in the name of their own God. (Actually I'm slightly unitarian in that I believe that there is one God who answers to many names, and He doesn't turn a deaf ear to a sincere prayer, no matter who utters it.) As I pointed out, one of Satan's favorite tools is fooling you into doing great evil in the world in the Lord's name. Note Matthew 4, where Jesus is tempted in the desert. Satan actually quotes Scripture to the Son of God; that's what he does, he takes the word of God out of context and tries to give it meaning it doesn't have. Notice that happening anywhere in the world?

The Fox/CNN reference was just me being partisan, don't take that too seriously.

What I really wanted to drive home was that dark thoughts do not enter our mind as dark thoughts; Satan does not work by trying to make being evil look attractive, he does it by confusing you as to which is which. It takes practice and concentration to see through the deception. Fortunately, we all have a great ally in God, if we'll be open to the help.

little-cicero said...

Good point, but it seems that, although you as a far left Christian would believe in a relativist approach to biblical study, this is exactly the approach that Satan prefers by which to confuse us. We need objective moral values because we as humans have a tendency to justify just about anything, moral or immoral, so that it seems right rather than wrong. By following Biblical doctrine's objective moral values, we avoid this and follow only moral guidelines, regardless of our personal best interest.

jwc said...

i seem to only connect to my super glue. alas.

Mary Ann said...

I really love reading your blog, Andy.

This is a very good analogy. Somewhere recently I was reading about hard and soft evil--roughly analogous to your 'radio satan' vs. 'easy listening'. Hard evil is revolting, inhuman, repulsive to all but the most hardened and lost. But soft evil is most likely to seem just a bit naughty, a tad irreverent, slightly *bad*. It is certainly true that we internalize evil much more willingly in small measure. After all, Buchenwald wasn't built in a day.

Andy said...

JWC: it shows.

Andy said...

LC, I think you're using conservative buzzwords and you don't really know what they mean. Frankly, a truly objective look at Scripture, which would place it in the historical context in which it was written and assembled, would be closer to this "relativist" approach that you are criticizing.

Michael said...

I dislike when morality is framed in religious ideology. You know me. I like to think I'm an pretty moral person (you might disagree). God is no part of my life. I believe God and the Devil were created by people because they couldn't understand why sometimes good things happened and sometimes bad things happened (especially to good people, since no one ever complains when bad things happen to bad people, probably because it doesn't happen often enough). And then they were co-opted by men who saw this so-called spiritual battle as a lever to gain power/wealth/whatever.

I believe you, and those other like-minded lefty Christian-types, are good, "decent" people, but I believe you'd be good and decent even if you didn't believe in God and Heaven and all that. Some people are good, some are bad, and others are indifferent. There doesn't need to be any kind of metaphysical motivation.

Watch CNN because Anderson Cooper is hot. Rob Marciano is even hotter. There’s no one cute on Fox News.

little-cicero said...

To Michael, I disagree! What about Kieran Chetry, doesn't get much cuter than that! (I really do get too much satisfaction out of pushing your guys' buttons)

To Andy, I do understand what objective moral values are. They are moral values that are concrete, universal and timeless: no matter where, when or what culture you are in, as mankind is concerned, this is right and this is wrong. I don't see how it relates to conservatism... I am not profoundly socially conservative anyway! The Bible is simply written with a few exceptions. It says "Do not adulture," which means, well, you know what it means. The prophets and gospel writers know what the purpose of their writings is, so they do not show off in their writing...they write simply.