I can’t have silence while I’m working. I need something in the background. Today, while working on lesson plans, I needed something just mindless enough to be background noise. Any movie I chose was too distracting, music is too engaging, and even shows like Desperate Housewives and Futurama require too much attention.
But then I came across TBN and I thought: Perfect.
TBN (Testament Broadcast Network? Testament Be New? There Be Noms? I have no idea what it stands for) is the channel which showcases ladies who wear huge rings and talk about being “cured” from a coke addiction without therapy (it looks like she moved on to meth) and men who wear ill-fitting blue plaid suits that make their heads look disproportionally tiny. Now, to the casual observer, this channel is merely amusing. I used to think so as well.
But today, when I should have been working, I actually listened to what was coming out of their mouths. Instead of laughing at the people in the audience chanting, “Amen” and raising their hands to the glory, I watched them. I studied their faces and saw that they…actually believe what the huge-ringed lady and the plaid-suited man are saying.
At this point I should point out that I’m not ridiculing these people for believing in God. Quite the opposite, actually. I’m not ridiculing anyone (expect for the aforementioned lady and man–those two, I definitely am ridiculing). Many people believe in God and manage to worship Him and live good, Christian lives without attempting to discredit and look down upon anyone who is–gasp!–different. Homosexual, Bisexual, Transsexual, Muslim, Mormon, Jewish, Canadian, etc, etc, etc. The HRL (Huge-Ringed Lady) and PSM (Plaid-Suited Man) are not discriminatory about their prejudices. The list of activities and people of which they disapprove includes everything they don’t do and everyone they are not.
I don’t have a problem with Christianity or Christians. I have a problem with the HRLs and PSMs of the world asking for money in return for spewing manipulative, self-serving, misleading, borderline-hateful rubbish.
My question for the folks in the audience is this: Are they paying you, or is your “Amen” sincere? Did you pay them to get into the audience? Have you sent money to them with the help of their oh-so-convenient toll-free phone number? Do you honestly believe that your money is going to the glory of God?
There are better ways to show–and experience–your faith. Put money in a local church collection plate–local churches mostly use your money to fix the church’s steeple or level the parking lot for wheelchairs instead of buying a huge ring or lining the pockets of a garish plaid suit. Send canned goods and clothes to Haiti or write letters to the troops. Foster a child, or an animal, or–here’s an idea–foster an attitude of love and acceptance for your fellow human beings.
Maybe what I’m seeing in those audience members isn’t stupidity or meanness or close-mindedness; maybe it’s simple naiveté. If that’s the case–and I’m kind of hoping it is, because the other options are less attractive–then it’s a little easier to understand. Everyone wants to believe in something. Everyone wants to know the meaning of life, the meaning of death, the meaning behind it all. Everyone searches for love and understanding and acceptance. Most importantly, everyone wants to be right. No one likes being wrong. It’s human nature, it’s competition, it’s pride. Maybe this audience has found where they fit in, where they believe they understand everything and are understood. But here’s something to take into account: If knowing the meaning of it all means belittling those who are different, is it worth it? If being right means disowning a son or daughter, is it worth it?
If their answer to those questions are “yes,” then they have officially surpassed the land of rainbows (oh, the irony) and butterflies known as naiveté. They have sprinted into the land of huge rings and plaid suits.
TBN was supposed to be mindless background noise, but HRL and PSM occupied too much of my mind for far too long. I came up with lots of social commentary and very little productive suggestions to cure the ill.
And I didn’t get a single lesson plan done.