What Faith Is Not – Part I

The Owl owes a debt of gratitude to the readers who commented on the recent post, What the Owl Is Trying to Say, in which we offered succinct definitions of five key words: Faith, Love, Covenant, Freedom, and Obedience. Each of these words has a lot of colloquial meanings, but the Owl tries to be consistent, using them in his own way. As we said on the home page, day one, this means our language cuts across conventional understanding, because our thinking lies athwart that of our culture. It turns out that the more Christians remember our citizenship in God’s kingdom, the more we find ourselves aliens in our cultural settings.

Aside: This is the reason we ought to cultivate solidarity with aliens in our midst. It is not because we are historically a “nation of immigrants.” That is a side issue, to be dealt with by secular politicians, pragmatically and generously as we may hope. The more important truth is that people everywhere are in a sense alien to this world. Some who know of their true life, hidden in God with Jesus Christ, know how the love of God sustains them. Others—and not only Christians, but all others have the love of God too. It would be immensely sad to go through life not knowing this, but it maybe the majority do. Nothing else so well explains people’s fecklessness in action, their forlornness in spirit, their dread of anonymity, their displays of anger in defense of outlandish and sterile versions of Self.

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The Idol Disease

A recent post touched upon the power of television advertising. The industry analyzes and divides viewers into demographic categories based on age, race, economic class, gender, and more. People think the entertainment is the product, and the ads are only momentary annoyances. The fact is, the viewers are the product, and there is not a moment when the tube is not selling. The viewers are not free; they are products created by media so that their attention, the time in their lives, can be subdivided and sold for money to advertisers. The genius of our culture is this: Market trumps everything. Market absorbs everything. Market turns everything to Market’s use. Market defines us to ourselves in lockstep with what we buy. Some of the dynamics behind this are technological. After all, we still do not have a very good understanding of the effects of television in our culture. We are just now able to look back the length of a generation.

The personal-psychological cost of this transaction—or to say it straight out, its spiritually destructive effect—is hidden from view. It takes its toll from all of us whether we watch or not. Whatever is broadcast becomes the reality, and whoever does not see him or herself there is lost to view, in effect dehumanized.

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