Turn Off the TV

GraceSCMission

Ok- bear with me. I read this article on Salon, this week:

I Lost My Dad to Fox News

The author, Edwin Lyngar, expresses a concern I have-a worry, if you will-about the power of propaganda. Yesterday, I was at a local coffee shop with church friends, and there were no less than 8 large screen televisions surrounding the shop, all of them flickering a non-stop collage of “breaking news;” everything from the recent prison break of Sinaloa’s El Chapo, to some dastardly threat issued by the latest hydra-head of terrorism. It was like being in the airport or reclined on a dentist’s table. It was truly awful, and within ten minutes, I saw the same soundbytes which would later fill my facebook newsfeed from people I know from all over the age, ethnic, and political color wheel.

As the day wore on, I kept remembering the number of times during our conversation that my own attention would wander to the screens and the immediate disconnection from the people I was at table with to a flat and tasteless worry about Mexican law enforcement thousands of miles away. Why would a gathering place do that to people? And what does that do to people who gather regularly in front of the screens-whether in public places like that coffee shop or with family at breakfast?

“I only wish I could do something to ease the anxiety of those I love . . . But I have no real solution, other than to turn off the television,”

“I only wish I could do something to ease the anxiety of those I love . . . But I have no real solution, other than to turn off the television,” writes Edwin Lyngar. Those words jumped off the page for me. I have so often felt that kind of hopelessness and despair.

Yet, if the church is to be believed, the Gospel is the answer. If the church is to be believed, the Gospel eases anxiety and slays anger. What’s more, if the church is to be believed, the Gospel grows love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control in our souls.

So I asked myself:

What would a small group ministry of and for those ~67+ years old, specifically speaking the Gospel of faith, hope, love, death, life, resurrection and liberation into this particular anxiety and anger look like?

What could a cohort of newly retired UM elders and licensed local pastors offer in their churches or local watering holes that would bring Good News to their brothers and sisters?

What would older generations of United Methodists remember about themselves if they traded out 2 hours of news a week to gather together to study Psalms and be reminded of their own ongoing participation in history of God?

What would the Light of Christ look like if it were shown into this darkness, and who among us is hearing the Call to try?

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