We interact with a variety of media. The platforms for delivery change daily. Fiber optics gives us 500 to 1000 choices every night. That is frightening. Short of watching old Sci-Fi movies and the Weather Channel, having more Oprah-like clones, Dancing with this or that celeb of the moment (Who ARE these people?) and Crystal Cathedrals, strikes fear in my heart. High tech voyeurism and salvation hawked by silicone-borne ministers who want money instead of saving the soul, casts a shadow over the need for redemption. We all need to be saved, but by illuminated glass pathways or cell signals?
Early man was liberated from the fear of the dark of night by fire. Dramatizations of this event usually portray it as an accident. Some not too bright caveman finds a burning stick after a lightning strike and scorching his finger tips, figures out that it can be used in various ways: cooking, warmth and keeping the ravenous saber-tooth at bay.
Fire and light became salvific over the centuries in various ways. Burning sticks, pine tar torches, candles and kerosene lamps held back the night. Now voice activated light switches are safer than that burning stick from the pine tree. The light cast by modern technology still serves to keep at a distance the threat inherent in darkness: the fear goes back a long way.
Over the last thirty years, we have been inundated by vast amounts of information. We have however been unable to develop a way of sorting out what is of value and what is merely titillating; the strange has become commonplace. Redemption delivered by the Domino drivers of the information highway usually has extra cheese, tastes good, but ends up like Quikcrete in the arteries.
The evangelist preaches deliverance by lightning bolt. Salvation comes by way of distraction from the facts of life with simple answers or by following a rigid party line in the hope that random acts of savagery can somehow be explained away. This cheapens the complexity and diversity of life. We are not all alike. We are all different. The universe is too big for one explanation.
The talk show host on the other hand would have us believe that salvation comes in floodlighting every detail of the messy lives many people live. Some of our interests in the unusual, perverse or just plain weird grow out of having developed a type of shell against the deluge of information. Either we take on the onslaught, or we ignore it. If we choose to engage, the blatant, sensationalized aspects of lives run amuck “enlighten” us. If we dive into the river of data, we miss those events that have redemptive meaning that are buried in the grind of job, family, traffic snarls and overextended credits cards.
If we have the fire to light a small part of the world, perhaps other lamps switched on in the darkness will help keep the beasts at bay. The light of all our electronic devices will do little to show the way to redemption. Traveling down the electronic highway at light speed with the accelerator stuck provides little opportunity to exit. It’s really in how we drive. To have faith in the predictability of life means that we take charge of the process rather than be a victim: there’s always the off switch.