Mar  2011 10
Rumors of Wars

Near the end, we will hear of wars, but also, claimed Jesus, “rumors of wars” (Mt. 24:6). Of course, that was before CNN and 24-hour satellite news coverage from around the world, instant imported information, from every corner of every country, in high-definition, in living color and surround sound, and soon – with the proper plastic lenses and funny-looking frames – in dramatically dynamic 3-D.

No real room for “rumors” anymore.  Before my first cup of morning coffee, all speculative stories of social conflict in circulation have been confirmed, or disconfirmed, whatever the case may be, with edited film clips cut and pasted from photo opts from years before, just in case. And all while I sleep. Summarized, analyzed, and precisely packaged, provocative sound bites and all, in exactly twenty-seven seconds, to fit right in between the network’s shameless promotion – thinly disguised as “news one needs to know” – of their own new reality sit-com about a family of fourteen in Florida, all of whom dream of singing on the Grand Ole Opry but not one of whom can carry a tune, and a report from their international correspondent on the forthcoming royal wedding, or divorce, depending on the year.

The networks know us. They study us. They are aware that our interest in wars – in whatever part of the world – lags tellingly far behind our interest in the antic misbehavior of our so-called “celebrities” and the inexplicable malfeasance of our “leading citizens” who sell the trust which others have placed in them for, most often, mere money they don’t really need. Scandals, we’re interested in. Wars, not so much.  Rumors of wars even less so.

And yet . . . the number one best-selling video game of all time in the U.S. is a war game, released in November of last year, a bloody blood-pressure-raising simulation of brutal battle in which the winner of the conflict is determined by the number of “kills” achieved behind enemy lines, with guns and knives, hand grenades and flame-throwers, rockets and explosives. A great simulation game: the practiced infliction of suffering and the taking of human life on a fast-paced, kill-or-be-killed, no-holds-barred basis. Entertainment for the family on the flat screen tonight! Last year’s Wii game has been relegated to the attic.

A “rumor of war?” Maybe. In fact, perhaps that’s essentially what Jesus meant: watch out for “war and the trivialization of war.”



Browse more posts by: Don Pittman, Phillips Faculty Emeritus
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