Monday, June 05, 2006

late breaking non news that we're following this hour...and have been for thousands of years

A Friend ministered yesterday about talking someone he knew down from an emotional ledge upon which that person had been placed by the news of the day. It took at least 30 seconds for this Friend to describe the events that had driven his acquaintance to that place of despair--war, domestic spying, gas prices, apathy, nuclear weapons in Iran. The conclusion to which these two came together was that peace and war were both growing in the world and that there was a race going on between them--with the future in the balance.

Perhaps we should stop reading/paying so much attention to the "news" of the day. Everything in the media is designed to make us afraid, angry or self righteous--all conditions we can attain on our own. These are, in fact, conditions we cannot help but attain but for Christ, who can break us out of the grooves of our condition(ing), much of which has been done to us by our efforts to keep up with current events. Iraq? Be afraid and then get mad--then congratulate yourself on being "against" it. Nuclear war? Be afraid and then get mad--then congratulate yourself on being "against" it. Gas prices? Be afraid and then get mad--then congratulate yourself for being too smart to drive and SUV. Crime? Be afraid and then get mad and then congratulate yourself for being "smart" enough to know that it's bad social policy that creates crime. This cycle of fear, anger and soothing by confirming in righteousness--which is the response to every newstory--is taking us away from Christ. Better, it seems to me, to spend less time in this cycle, to go through it fewer times.

We learn nothing new, day by day, as we pay attention to the "news" of the day. It is enough to know the general drift of things--we are at war in Iraq, we are at war in Afganistan, the American government is supporting the fertility cult of consumerism and distraction that has most of us living in a fog, the blasphemy that conceals and distorts to the point of our distraction--which means that our culture has us at war with one another and with ourselves. Does filling ourselves in, day by day, on the dimensions, the magnitude, of evil in the world do anything, really, except reinforce our own notions of our own convincement that we are not part of this, thanks be to the Spirit?

If we are not bought into all of this--or if we believe that we are among those who are not distracted and led astray by all the conditioning of our culture--then we should ask whether our paying attention to the "news" doesn't have us distracted and led astray by the outrage we feel at how others are distracted and led astray and how that condition of theirs threatens us. It feels good, doesn't it, to be so outraged about how bad things are? It's a rush keeping ourselves and everyone around us bummed out about it all, all the time. In terms of our spiritual conditon, we might as well be as distracted and led astray as those for whose deliverance we pray! Distraction is distraction. Anything which keeps us, moment by moment, from attending the guidance of the Spirit (or as Buddhists might say, mindfulness/attending reallity) harms us and those around us in the same way. Passionately persuading people to support the war? Passionately persuading people to oppose the war?

We can be as far from the peace that passes all understanding as everyone else because of the upset that comes upon us, that we bring upon ourselves, from our obsessing on the details of the madness of our human culture/condition that so many "others" are bound up in, the fear we have of the darkness that the illusions of "others" is pulling over our heads like an unwelcome blanket. We become every bit as cut off from reality, from our awareness of God's presence, as those we wish would wake up!

So, how much detail do we need? We know the nature of the world and we know what we are called to do about it. We can take right action, move ourselves and others toward right relationship, without knowing every detail of wrong action or wrong relationship that exists around us. In fact, knowing every detail can actually hamper us. Having our fear, anger and self righteousness stoked on a daily basis--by Fox or by NPR--impairs us in doing the things that we know we are called to do.

Perhaps the Adversary, knowing that some among us will perceive manifestations of the evil/distraction that is afoot, encourages us to concentrate attention on those manifestations to the point that we are actually drawn into other manifestations of the same evil. Anger, fear and self righteousness.

Extra, extra, read all about it--again, and again, and again.

1 comment:

forrest said...

Thank you.

I get so tired of the melodrama. But it's hard to be sure how much attention I owe it. It does add up to terrible suffering, for those directly involved. And only by the grace of God, etc...

Today I went downtown to join once again in the game of cops 'n protestors. The cops seem to be really on our side, in this one, but some of our group were determined to get arrested, not to let the event pass without a sacrifice to the gods of nonviolence. All were released afterwards with tickets, and I was relieved. So much suffering from war, so we think maybe we should take on a little more, just to do "our share"?

Tomorrow morning I and a few others will be back on the corner ("I been in this condition, so many times before") with our peace signs, until the parking meters kick in at 8:00. It's inconvenient, but it feels like the right thing to do. And then we go out to breakfast. (There was a pretty girl used to smile at me as she'd walk past, but then I said "We've got to stop meeting like this!" and she stopped coming by, alas.) Every Tuesday, except when it rains, which is seldom enough down here. I know better than to take my part in it seriously, but I'd feel wrong about it if I stopped.