Television is one of the better sources for local news so I give in to watching it regularly, but it is impossible to watch even one broadcast without noticing the use of fear to keep us watching. Poking fun at that tendency is the premise of this current ad:
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You don’t have to be a Hahvahd grad to know that that is wicked funny (and no, the accent is not the reason!) Hopefully the humor is tool to unmask the ugly truth of the work of Empire and not yet another tool for keeping keeping us from challenging the system. The ancient Roman formula was bread and circuses: provide basic sustenance and entertaining distractions. During this week’s DWB episode, Eric suggested that the tool of oppression that Empire uses today is dependency and Todd was quick to add “and anxiety.” This deadly combination is clearly at work when we keep looking for more and more material things, seeking comfort and only find that we hunger for more and feel discomfort. The tricks to keeping us consuming are based on the twin fictions that there is an endless supply and we don’t have enough already. Todd spoke of this as the “fear of enough-ness.” It is a disease that has serious spiritual implications. Why should we experience dis-ease about enough-ness when we should be accepting that our God who cares even for the unclean ravens will provide all that we need? Hmm, seems like we covered that recently.
As much as we should learn to just stop shopping, living simply so others can simply live, we must even more so free ourselves from the anxiety around that consumption. If we really want to lose connection to our unhurried God, running away from one fear-filled situation toward a new and improved solution that will only cost $19.99, is a pretty reliable way to do it. But wait, there’s more! Here’s Madison Avenue’s dirty little secret; there doesn’t have to be a real danger to create real fear. Have you noticed that little rise in anxiety you feel when the newscast simply asks a question? “Does your breakfast cereal cause halitosis?” Then what happens during the commercial break? You worry just a little that it does. You worry that halitosis may be terminal. You think, “I better stay tuned to find out.” Then they have you. There you are waiting to get the news that one batch of Boo Berries in South Dakota was recalled after a 90 year old man developed bad breath so bad that his room mate in the nursing home had to call the staff. Whew, another bullet dodged, on to the rest of the fearmongering the media is so good at dishing.
This week’s pneuma divina passage included the message that God has placed a sense of time in humans. This way we see things differently than God does, who is outside of time. We are unable to see the future outcome of the present potential. So we can fear the worst even though God, who does see the future outcome in the present potential is not only able to assure us that fear is unnecessary but that there is now and there will be enough. So, this place of fear (or feeah as we say heeah in New England)? Yeah, we gotta get outta heeah!