Fear and Loathing in Radio Land

The hypocrisy falls on us all. Those outside the kingdom will argue at one and the same time that the media we consume, whether violent video games, racy television programs, raunchy lyrics, that these are just entertainment, and have no significant impact on us. On the other hand, these same media gurus, when selling advertising, suddenly insist that a thirty second spot, well made and well placed will send your company into the Fortune 500. We believers, on the other hand, sometimes argue that the media we consume will inevitably turn us into monsters, and then turn around and say we are responsible for what we do.

The truth is what we consume does participate in shaping us. And the truth is that we are responsible for what we do. The two kiss when we understand that we are responsible for what we consume. We make a grievous error, however, if the only standard by which we measure what we consume is its truth quotient. You can, believe it or not, bring truth into your mind in a way that is harmful.

Take, if you will, the Christian and conservative talk radio. While I am unwilling to draw the lines of fellowship here, I do recognize that Christians, by and large, shy away from the party of death, and support political views that somehow are considered to be conservative. I could here complain that the problem is the lack of truth, that the “conservatives” are no conservatives at all. That, however, will have to await another time. Let’s presume that the Sean Hannitys, the Glenn Becks of this world are conservative, and truthful. The problem is that their underlying goal is not to steer the country to the right, but to keep you tuned in. They can do that, while being conservative and telling the truth, so long as they frame the truth in such a way to strike terror in you. Chicken Little is the power behind the “vast right-wing conspiracy.”

Conservative outlets, on the radio, television, the web, even in print, stay alive by telling us we’re all going to die tomorrow. To put it another way, they get their piece by destroying our peace. They fill our hearts with fear so that we’ll tune in tomorrow, and then joyfully sell our eyes or ears to their sponsors. Truth, even when it is being spoken, is not the end but the means, the means by which we consumers are turned into products to be consumed by advertisers. You may think Rush Limbaugh became a household name by delivering wisdom to the masses. The truth is he did so, even though he is often right, by delivering the masses to his sponsors.

Am I suggesting a boycott of conservative media? Of course not. Am I suggesting we need to tune into the mainstream media? By no means. Am I arguing that bad things are not happening in Washington? May it never be. What I am suggesting is that anxiety is not a fruit of the Spirit, peace is. I am suggesting that fear mongers all too often cast out the love that casts out all fears. I’m suggesting that we need to rest in His goodness and in His power. That doesn’t mean He won’t ordain political trials. It doesn’t mean the culture isn’t slouching beyond Gomorrah. It doesn’t mean there aren’t injustices to be condemned, and trends to be on guard against. It does mean that we can rest, that every one of our fears either will not come to pass, or, if they do, it is for our good and His glory. If they do, He calls us to count it all joy.

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