Switching Off

Saturday, February 8, 1997

Psalm 46:10 – Be still, and know that I am God.

People are always trying to improve my mind by giving me good stuff to read. The latest was a compendium of essays written over the years by C.S. Lewis. I have never read a great deal of Lewis, and never became a great fan of his, but still this person felt I should try again.

When one gets old, a lot of reading stuff becomes transparent. One fails to see it for what it was trying to deliver and instead sees through it to what is beyond in the background. These Lewis essays were written over a long period of time many decades ago, and while they are timeless in their own way, they are also of another age because of language and circumstance. After reading a couple of the essays one puts the book down and says, "That was an interesting read, but I cannot for the life of me, recall what he said…"

In this day of terrible information overload, one tends to become very defensive. One adopts an attitude of why are you trying to tell me this? Or why should I be interested in what you are trying to tell me? Or why did you interrupt my dinner to ask me about carpet cleaning?

This is partly the result of simple overload – we can't handle everything that comes in. Worse still, much of the information we get is terribly tainted – principally by solicitation and commercial advertising, but particularly by TV advertising. The standard defence is to switch off the mind, switch off the TV, or apply a suitable discount, for example, I will discount this "message" to the extent of 90{8395b6ce96fcf25a14d80edc3b65c36a8995b6c1ba5f8c16ac11d8adaa79f35b} – 90{8395b6ce96fcf25a14d80edc3b65c36a8995b6c1ba5f8c16ac11d8adaa79f35b} misinformation, 10{8395b6ce96fcf25a14d80edc3b65c36a8995b6c1ba5f8c16ac11d8adaa79f35b} truth. That other message is from the PCC. The PCC is something I can trust. Therefore I will discount it only to the extent of 10{8395b6ce96fcf25a14d80edc3b65c36a8995b6c1ba5f8c16ac11d8adaa79f35b}, and so on. So when we put those defences in position day after day, month after month, we tend to apply them to all information coming by, whether from C.S. Lewis or Conrad Black, and things get very transparent.

The people of Israel were having similar problems. The messages from their God were getting mixed up with messages from other gods. The hucksters were out there – the commercial types, the military types, the charlatans and the temple types.

Jesus had a good message but it was mixed up with all the others. Sometimes it prevailed; sometimes it didn't. People were confused. On Palm Sunday things were great; within a week Jesus was in deep trouble. People were confused. This time it was because they were being very actively manipulated by the temple people.

We are always being manipulated and we must try to discern who is doing the manipulating and apply the appropriate discount factors.

Perhaps the best defence is to be still, open the mind for the Holy Spirit and listen for the word of God.

Prayer: Gracious God: In the stillness of your presence, help us to organize truth and reality so that we may be of some continuing worth in your sight. Amen.

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Gordon Hodgson

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