Inflationary Fear Porn

One of the important things about the Liturgy is that it is constant. It is always there, always forgiving, always consoling, always comforting, always guiding, always instructing. It does its job, and it does it so well, it is a mirror of heaven. It is always right (and rite!), and allows us to lose ourselves in the beauty of the love and mercy of our heavenly Father.

Years ago, during the worship wars, (Even from their beginning) those who defended the liturgy pointed out that, if the goal was to excite, you would need ever larger excitements, ever larger thrills, ever larger insanities, to keep people interested. And so it is that a recent video showed a guy wiping out on his motorcylce in the church service.

But this is not just true in the church. It’s true for everything. If you go with the big, the wild, the amazing(!) you must continually get bigger, wilder, amazinger, until finally, you can’t rationally continue. But if profits are driven by this creed, the only option is to become irrational.

As a pastor, I don’t recall a time when people have been so frightened / enraged / enthralled by the news. Sure, in a conversation over coffee the news might come up. “Have you seen… So tragic…” *Sad head shake and sigh* Now, people are greeting me with “Pastor, have you heard the latest…”

The problem is the news is not neutral. It doesn’t exist to inform. It exists to make a profit. No profits = no high paying jobs. As has been said, “If it bleeds, it leads.” Twenty years ago, a Chicago station was going to report substantive news, using famous anchors with high name recognition. Five months later, they were cancelled, and the news was back to reporting warehouse fires and traffic accidents.

Nowadays, with Orangemanbad out of office, news ratings have collapsed. So what to do? Up the outrage factor to 11. And if that doesn’t work, up it to 111, or 1111, or even (and we are quickly approaching this) “Infinity… Plus One.” And so politicians are – not ironically – invoking the Nazis. On both sides of the aisle it’s happening. Reporters are breathlessly reporting the latest outrage, and the outrage grows. You can listen on the left or right and here about the other side: Riots! Looting! Corruption! Scandal! LISTEN FOR ANOTHER FIVE MINUTES TO THIS LIFE-CHANGING NEWS THAT CAN’T WAIT, right after this word from our sponsor. DO NOT TURN OFF THE TV BEFORE LISTENING TO THIS WORD FROM OUR SPONSOR!

It’s nonsense. Turn it off. Seriously. If we are to survive as a nation, the thing we most need is to turn off the news. Stop giving them power over your emotional state. You’ll get anxious for the first few days – “What is going on? We need to know!” your mind will scream at you. Ignore it. Mow the lawn, take a walk, read a book, build a shelf, fix a fence, do anything else. Watch a John Wayne movie. Watch literally anything else. But stay away from the news for a couple of weeks, and see if things don’t return to normal. The world is starting to burn. But if we all just turn off the outrage porn, maybe we can contain the fires, and put them out in time.

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