Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Brainwashing and Corruption of the Church, PART I

There is a great summary of the Bible’s warnings to not be conformed to the world in the song, “O Be Careful Little Eyes What You See.” The song is meant to bring out the idea that there are things in the world that are always at work against the truth. “O Be careful, Little Eyes, what you see. O Be careful, Little Eyes, what you see. For the Father up above is looking down in love. O Be Careful, Little Eyes what you see. O Be careful, Little Ears, what you hear. O Be careful, Little Ears, what you hear. For the Father up above is looking down in love. O Be Careful, Little Ears what you hear.”

Why does the Bible tell us we need to have our minds constantly renewed? Why does it command us to saturate our households with the word of God, to talk about it when we rise, when we walk on the road, when we go to sleep at night? Why do we need teachers to proclaim the Scripture by correcting, rebuking, exhorting, etc.? Why do we have a need to have spiritual songs that capture Christian theology sung to us by other Christians, to be in communion with God’s people who speak and sing out God’s wisdom? Shouldn’t it be the case that God just corrects our thinking once and we just think and live rightly from there? Why can’t I just read the Bible and say, “Been there, done that”? Why the need to be continually reminded and endlessly ponder its depths?

The short answer? Because we’re already having the religion of the world shoved down our throats night and day via all of these forms of media. In our culture, our biggest form of self religion is either practical atheism or deism. It is living in the absence of God that is modeled in our conversations, songs, counsel, etc. It’s not that everyone is teaching an explicit atheistic philosophy. Indeed, theoretical atheism is only for daring TV shows with higher ratings. As I’ve said before, most people don’t live in theoretical atheism, but everyone, including most evangelicals in the West live in practical atheism.

And the biggest culprit that has trained us (yes, “trained us”) to live as atheists? Television. Oh, television, as I said, doesn’t use explicit arguments that everyone should live in the absence of God, refrain from talking about God, etc. It just does it. It models for us what is the normative lifestyle. And the more we watch, the more what we see becomes normative in our minds. What departs from the normative lifestyle conveyed to us on TV is considered abnormal, radical, extreme, and just plain weird. It’s not a conscious decision we make to see it as normative. It’s subtle. It has worked itself into our grandparents households, our parents households, and into our households. Once normative, it was adopted and modeled within our schools, personal conversations, and even in terms of what we think in our own minds. Now, the household and the culture as a whole, whether watching any TV anymore or not, has taken over the task of conveying the absence of God in daily life as normative.
The recent article that argued that South American culture, once introduced to certain television shows, which conveyed concepts only through example, without explicit teaching on the subject (i.e., without presenting the theory), that one or two children is the norm, soon had a major effect upon the number of children people were having.

We gain our sense of the norm from culture, and so the more we vicariously experience life through others, the more we see those others as setting the bar.
To be sure, one show doesn’t change you from being one person to becoming another. That’s not how it works. One movie may get you to think about something, but it is what is presented as normative, without any explicit argument, displayed time and time and time and time again that sets a subconscious standard in our minds.

This is why atheism in our culture is largely practical rather than theoretical. Most people believe God exists, but God is absent from our daily routine, our daily thought processes. And why is that? Because He is absent from that which sets the standard for normative living and thinking.
Public schooling and the workplace only serve to reinforce this living in the absence of God, as God is not a part of the daily routine. Hence, even in our home life, it’s a struggle to incorporate God in, and when we do, He just seems like some extra addition to what is normative rather than the worship of our Maker being a part of the norm.

A big reason why TV (and movies, books, music, etc.) have such an impact is that we live vicariously through its characters, and so, as they are, so we are for the duration of the program. We’re a part of their world for that period of time. The more we live in their world, and their world is absent of God, the more our world will look like theirs and will be absent of God as well. 
Their morals will be our standards. If they kiss people who are not their spouses as the norm, that will be ours as well. If they have sex outside of marriage, even if we do not accept that theoretically, it will become the norm against which we are fighting in our theory.
Again, one program isn’t enough to do this. It needs to be a consistent influence to set the standard. The more and more we watch and enter those worlds that are absent of God, the more and more our culture will see God as additional to “real life,” and the worship of Him in a daily routine as abnormal.

This is what brainwashing is all about. It trains a society to think a certain way without allowing that society to think for itself by presenting the explicit idea as something to be examined critically. Instead, it just assumes the truthfulness of the idea and sets the stage accordingly.
To be sure, TV (and movies) is just a major vehicle through which we enter into alternate worlds and make them our own. If women and kids are the leaders on TV, and the men are a bunch of unthinking clowns who can’t grow up, over time, our society begins to look like that as well. Life imitating art, as they say. Here we see a major reason why that is.

Now, it is possible to enter into the television and movie experience with a critical mind and to inject the norm of Scripture, which to us who believe is true reality rather than the fabricated one adopted by our culture, into the program by thinking about what is said and talking about the reality presented in the program with one another; but who does this? Very few unfortunately.
But whether through television in our time or literature and song in previous generations, the call of the Christian in all cultures is to renew their minds, and so, to sanctify their bodies, set themselves apart as a living sacrifice for God. 

There is, therefore, an idolatry, a betrayal of God, that has taken place in our lives somewhat without our consent. And our current state may be a judgment of God upon a church that has made its norm a world that is not of God, indeed, that is absent of God and His standard, His norm, His reality. 
 Perhaps, we are like children playing in the ocean, who have drifted farther away from our marker than we realize, and are in need of swimming back to it. Only by setting our sights on the marker again will we be able to do so. And it is often a hard swim and struggle against the tide we have allowed to carry us away.

To the extent that we do not saturate our lives with the Word of God that changes our minds and prayer that conforms our wills and applies the Word to our lives, the constant and unrelenting, silent screams of implicit philosophies that wage war against the mind and heart will take their effect and bring us to the ruin of a pagan and hedonistic norm of fallen humanity. 

O Be careful, Little Eyes, what you see. Be careful little ears what you hear.

Therefore I exhort you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a sacrifice – living, separated for purity, and pleasing to God which is the service of your thinking. Do not be conformed  to this present world,  but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve that which is the will of God – what is good and well-pleasing and perfect. (Rom 12:1–2).


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