Are Curves and Straight Lines Interchangeable? (Part 2) By Rev. Steve Schlissel
Rev. Steve Schlissel - March 5, 2008
We had been lamenting Andy Kuyvenhoven’s triumph over truth when he had converted a victory of communication in the cause of righteousness into just another lost cause.
I don’t know how to catch up explaining to my children and my students all they need to know if they are to keep at least one foot in the real world. They are daily assaulted by falsities (falsies? that’s a Holden Caulfield flashback!), half-truths, and actual-truths-made-vicious by having been set in false contexts. What set me on this tangent was the need I felt to explain how vitally important is the role of Mediator in all of life. That role is made more critical when the Mediator simultaneously serves as Instructor to the masses and the Sole Definer & Conveyor of what may/ought-to-be taken as fact or reality.
Chicago–the group, not the city–sang, Color My World. We live in a world where virtually all residents, Christians included, have given to non-Christians the responsibility to color God’s world for us. Each morning we pick up the paper, and each night we invite talking heads to tell us, what are the borders, contours, colors, shapes, and events of the world, along with any and all implications and meaning which might be found therein. This awesome responsibility is entrusted to an unelected group known collectively as Media, but who we’d better start thinking of and calling Mediators. Standing between a world of people-viewers and a world of people-in-events, the Mediators inform all as to what is, what happened and what it all means. (Is what they DON’T report on beginning to become significant to you?) What is real? What is history? What meaning is there? You can only put together words from letters known to be available. If every story which we take as God-decreed and signified (in some way or another), is presented as having both existence and meaning apart from any mention of God, how long before the world of events is seen as having wholly independent existence, a wide domain perfectly explicable without any god. The most that could be said for a deity in the setting created by autonomous Mediators would be that he’s a deus ex machina which some people rely upon for closure. Do practitioners of Americanity ever consider that there’s a difference between a deity who may or may not exist and a God who is the indispensable presupposition of all intelligible predication? Not if their methods of gathering news is to be counted as evidence.
Though Scripture quite significantly tells us that God has appointed just one Mediator between God and man, Christians have come to believe that Christ’s mediation, if it is appropriate in any sphere, is best left confined to just one: the religious. The rest of life, despite being in equal need of Christ’s mediation, we demand be mediated to us by pleasant looking people who smile a lot. Though they be ever fronting for products, corporations, special interests and private agendas, we allow an occasional hollow claim to neutrality to serve as proof that they are. They are, in fact, as neutral as Pharaoh when confronted with the claims of Jehovah: â€œWho is the Lord that I should obey Him?” (You’ll find out.) In a world created by God, who put His signature everywhere, and branded all things as the work of His hands–in a world created by the God who is revealed in man more fully and magnificently (twisted and distorted as man might be by sin), a world where the suppression of the knowledge of God is an arduous, wearying but deemed necessary task, neutrality is a pure impossibility. Everywhere confronted by God, relying on Him for all, we pretend that His claims are open matters in no need of swift resolution. It is clever, when Henry steals Fred’s house and car and sleeps with Fred’s wife, to demand that Fred prove to you, Henry, his prior claim to that which you’ve stumbled upon and usurped, but it’s a ploy destined to become just one more indictment on the day you are called to give account. The point of all this is, simply to say, the people we’ll hire to tell us what is real are people who have either sworn to Henry’s lies or promised Henry never to mention Fred’s true claims.
The importance of the roles played in our societies by these Mediators of reality is difficult to calculate. Perhaps it can be apprehended when we consider that, of all the things which happen in a given day in the created universe, the whittling down of them all to a few which are to be regarded as newsworthy inescapably involves discrimination, if not plain censorship. Why, for example, does persecution of Muslims after 911 count as news when the slaughter of Christians by Muslims across a vast swathe of Africa does not? Aside from culling, the designating of some events only as newsworthy involves the imposition of judgments concerning relative value (which in turn require a belief, always unstated, in some sort of Absolute value). You couldn’t report everything if you wanted to. Once you limit your content to that which could be conveyed/digested in a reasonable amount of time, a huge amount of sifting has already taken place. And we are permitted neither to know nor to view the standard employed in sifting.
It’s rather frightening to think of how naÃ¯ve Christians continue to be regarding these simple, accessible truths. They simply trust that the news being reported is real news, worthy of noting, discussing, being commenting upon–and that it is in fact news without and apart from an agenda functioning as a FILTER, keeping certain KINDS of stories out while insuring that stories of another type, which serve the agenda, get in. The mass media are very, very aware that the infallible way to advance any given agenda is simply to ignore the venerable opposition. Who appointed Al Sharpton as a spokesman from Negroes of the Northeast? Certainly not Negroes of the Northeast. But the time in front of the camera taken up by the Allege-a-rev necessarily means that Thomas Sowell has NOT been sought out nor presented as that voice. When feminism was making its desperately important first moves–as a renewed and invigorated, reality-manipulating force–it was a commonplace to have a story presented as a news item with which women should be concerned. I remember how the major outlets (really censoring stations) routinely called upon a spokesman for the National Organization for Women to provide “the women’s reaction” to such and such a piece. No one was granted the opportunity to vote for the candidate who would be selected as the presumed “legitimate” representative of the newly identified and ever-manipulated power group. This was a power reserved for the media-elite alone.
Thus my daily infuriation, as a topic would be artificially dragged to the fore only so it would serve as a catalyst demanding, in turn, the ushering in of an expert to provide comment or opinion. Not a handful of people, watching the news like lambs led to truth’s slaughter, allowed themselves to question why N.O.W., an organization of 50,000 ugly bra-burners, was put front and center in every American living room to rub in the latest toxin through the brain pores of silly, uncritical humans, while Concerned Women of America, comprised of upwards of two million women, was treated as if it did not exist. But even when CWA spokeswomen were ushered in, networks acted as if they were the soul of fairness by giving CWA views equal time with N.O.W. views (a practice long since abandoned; now the N.O.W. views are the only recognized women’s views). Curiously, the same principles never govern coverage of people like Ron Paul. Does his lawful presence and perseverance in a race mean that his views should be given equal time with those of opposing Republicrats? Ha! CWA, an organization far more likely, if membership numbers in a free society suggest anything, to represent views reflective of the those held by American women, is, AT BEST, treated as though its 40-to-1 membership advantage is of no relevance when the Mediators are selecting a “spokesman” for women.
Because this bias toward a particular agenda is performed cleanly, out of sight, off camera, before the news ever airs; because it is passive, integrated beforehand, treated as if a presupposition, Americans watching “the news” are actually submitting their brains for reprogramming. The ONLY way to watch the news in America, or in totalitarian nations worldwide, is with firm disbelief. But because we have a God-given instinct to connect with those addressing us, to begin relationships with trust rather than cynicism, to graciously grant a presumption in favor of a person’s integrity–because we are programmed to presume that well-spoken people who sound sincere ARE sincere, because we ESPECIALLY regard good looking people as good folk, the manipulation of determining who may be a spokesman for whom becomes just one more tactic in a sea of tactics designed to convey impressions as if these were truth itself. Indeed, truth itself–and the consequence which ought to be bound up with truth alone, viz., epistemological certainty–are, in our culture, judged by the style in which the content was delivered rather than by any objective or verifiable data supporting it. By donning the most elegant attire, by being given prominent places at the information banquets, falsehoods come finally to be accepted as unchallengeable, “Everybody knows that” truths. In reality, nobody even knows what hit them. And OJ Simpson was innocent.
I digress along the path of the above not because I want to persuade my fellow-Christians to shut off TV news, period–even though they should–but rather because I would like my fellow believers, especially parents, to understand that MEDIATORS COUNT–big time. Mediators are those who stand between history, reality and truth, on the one hand, and those who want to know what happened, what will happen, and why. I will resist the temptation to offer a fuller exposÃ© of what the news, by itself, alone, can succeed in doing to the critical faculties of our young people, and blurt instead that perception is what now functions in place of “truth”.
This deserves a pause. People of principle generally seek to take actions in accord with what they know to be true. They try not to be governed by whim, fashion, trend or other baser motives. “Good people” generally seek to act in accordance with what they believe are deep and strong and well-grounded convictions. But when PERCEPTION (the flip side of appearance) replaces TRUTH as the standard for what may be collectively regarded as REAL, the huckster’s job has become infinitely easier. The people can be moved to action more easily, for all they required as a predicate was an impression, a perception.
Alvin Plantinga, Epistemologist Extraordinaire, was taken on his own turf. Andy Kuyvenhoven, without any difficulty, simply by lifting a clause from its context in my speech, and featuring the clause as if it were the whole speech, led those sheep who are moved to action by impression rather than truth, he led them where he wanted them to go. The spin was in. Alvin’s utter brilliance and rigorous training were no match for a huckster, because Alvin had not yet seen that his implicit trust in Mediators had paved the way for a reduction in the standard for warranted belief. If that’s what happens to the best and brightest, what chance do Charlie and Margaret Spinhoven, the Everymen of the CRC, have?
When the standard for regarding something as real falls to mere perception, the satisfying of the craving for truth among the meat-eaters becomes painfully difficult. People who require truth before they act are left on the sideline twiddling their thumbs. The absence of truth means people with the higher standard will not act at all, for they act only when they act upon known truth. Those who have been taught that action is justified on the basis of perception will act when that standard is satisfied. In this way, the news turns out to be recruitment programming. Each day, hundreds of millions of Americans pick up the morning paper, and/or come home to turn on the idiot box, asking of the Mediators: “What happened today?” They are then (especially in the evening) treated to technologically sumptuous multimedia manipulation. It is not much of a contest: despite having heard about huge integrity “lapses” by media (organizations and individuals), Americans, helped by the handsome Mediators, recall only the lapses of “religious” or political leaders.
Let me tell you the bottom line. Watching TV news is participating in anti-Christian catechism. Discussing “the news” around the water cooler or on the subway, or over the cubicle, Americans are participating in catechism reinforcement exercises. They leave unasked any question not already in their catechism. The fact that Mediators do not–and arguably cannot–present alternative interpretive schemes as providing more satisfactory answers or conclusions, does not prevent practitioners of Americanity from believing that they’ve come away with the truth.
It gets worse–really. Because people are what God–and many Christians–say they are, and they are NOT what secularist evolutionary humanists say they are, the rituals which secularists scorn as vestiges of superstition, are actually inescapable instincts woven into man’s being. Everyone indoctrinates their offspring into their religion, even if it’s a syncretistic patchwork. All people participate in rituals, and all people require those under their authority to participate in rituals–RELIGIOUS RITUALS–which reinforce and bring into relief the us/them power inherent in the religion’s distinctive views. Watching the nightly news and reading the morning NY Times are attendance at catechism, where the whole nation is drilled in the wisdom of the world, and taught to apply the faith, first by becoming sufficiently suspicious of all religions which deviate from the one taught by the major stations.
(What are the odds that, given the innumerable events occurring on any given day around THE WORLD, that three massively funded network news teams, operating independently, would choose the SAME lead story, the same #2 and #3 stories–in fact, what are the odds that all three would carry the same stories in the same position relative to the broadcast schedule, and with the same spin, not simply on one incredible day of coincidence, but every day, 5-7 days per week, 52 weeks per year, year after year? Who has so little grey matter that they could fail to see in these exercises what amounts to inquisitorial control of the interpretation of reality?! Do you think America’s devotion to these anti-Christian catechetical rituals might have something to do with why CHRISTIANS are so trusting toward those blood-sworn to destroy them, so submissive to those dedicated to warring against them and their professed God every step of the way? Do you think it is only in Public Schools that such RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION takes place? EVERYTHING is religious. In a God-created world there could not possibly be any area of neutrality.)
Please understand–I am not speaking by way of metaphor when I refer to commercial television and its news programs as Mediators of an anti-Christian religion. I mean it “literally” or at least, without a need to grasp for an accounting of any aspect or dimension of what occurs in these rituals (process or content) beyond or beside what occurs in the most rigorous Christian catechetical instruction leading to confirmation. It is Worldview Training, 100%. The water coolers are where on-the-spot-quizzes are given to make sure everyone has been attending catechism. Job interviews, and an increasingly greater portion of on-the-job-training sessions, are devoted to assuring that everyone in the system has adopted to heart the religion of the system–adopted in their hearts the Doctrinal Confessions of Baal and Ashtoreth, learned by rote the Catechism of Unbelief, and sworn themselves to the maintenance of the anti-Antithesis, offering as incense pinches to Caesar expressions of scorn for the Confession of the Churches, starting with its obnoxious notion that there is such a God who chooses and determines things, or who is laughably believed capable of ruling or overruling in the affairs of men. They are tested for remnants of faith in a God who speaks reliable truth, a God who thinks He is right AND that all who oppose Him are WRONG, by definition. When a surviving heretic is discovered, when the insufferable remnants of vestigial Christianity are detected, the body politic immediately goes into self-preservation mode. This requires, above all else, immediate expulsion of the heretic, or, minimally, isolation of the heretic by shunning and deprivation of privilege. In some cases (where the appearance of tolerance and a readiness to forgive are thought to be called for), a subjection to extra brainwashing sessions is permitted as the sanction. By these sessions the Priests of Baal make one more attempt to save the heretic’s soul. After all, if anyone should be found wandering from the path, he who rescues his brother and brings him back to the faith openly confessed, covers a multitude of sins.
But our society, we are told, is NOT religious, has no national catechism, no tests of faith. Uh-huh. And Jackie Gleason is the man in the moon. The religion competing with the Judaeo-Christian faith in the Public Square is a lying, ruthless, carnal beast, filled with insatiable covetousness and envy, lusts run amok, and a set of commandments, rigorously enforced, including a requirement not only to turn the face away from the Christian God, but to turn away from any of His apparent children. They are taught to run away, not only from Christians, but from any other dangerous heretic who believes in such a thing as knowable truth, a single God, a knowable history, or any message which implies that man needs to make any material changes, especially changes which might require suppression or management of those instincts which man has singled out as his compensation for suffering in this vale of tears the true God created.
Of course, by shutting out God and His representatives, the designs and goals of the Humanists are brought into obvious relief. What emerges is a message in which we hear them putting us on notice, warning us of the vicious intolerance that awaits any who even secretly harbor heresies in their hearts. Made patent, too, is their insistence that one god only be acknowledged, praised or worshipped in the Public Square. And the ONLY requirement needing to be fulfilled by any candidate for acknowledged deity is this: that He not bear or lay claim to the Name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Thus has America, sanctified as an offering to God by our fathers who came here expressly to serve Him, become a place devoted to the eradication of Jehovah worship. While the roots accounting for this dramatic change go back to the Garden of Eden, the forms used for soldier recruitment and the means employed for their training have resulted in a phenomenal acceleration of victories accumulated by the devil. If there is a form more pernicious than the regarding of Mediators as a neutral concern, I don’t know how we might find an accounting for the thoroughness of this change of religion we have witnessed in our generation. We allowed any spokesman, regardless of consideration of their credentials, free access to our children, in schools all day and at home for the balance of hours of life.
We have entered the terminal stage. That is when the means of indoctrination have become invisible, for all are thought to be simply normal parts of the landscape. “Why, that’s not indoctrination! That’s education!” Or, “That’s not indoctrination! That’s entertainment.” Yes. It is. Screwtape and Wormwood are rolling in the aisles.