The new year has scarcely begun, but Americans watching television have already heard a lot about God.
When Larry King interviewed George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton the other night, CNN presented ample split-screen evidence that the Lord transcends political parties and backgrounds. The former presidents — blue-blooded Yankee and hardscrabble Arkansan — spoke eloquently about faith. By now, perhaps no subject has achieved more agreement in the
â€œMy faith is never shaken by a personal tragedy,â€ said ex-President Bush, â€œor even a tragedy of this enormity.â€
But, writing in the London-based Guardian four days into the new year,
In the media frame, it doesnâ€™t seem to matter that almost all the notable Americans invited on the networks to talk about their faith in God are supportive of bankrolling the carnage in
In autumn 1994, just weeks before the mid-term election when the GOP won the upper hand on Capitol Hill, the executive director of the conservative fundamentalist Christian Coalition spoke at the National Press Club. â€œFaith in God isnâ€™t whatâ€™s wrong with
No doubt many Americans like the profuse media talk about faith in God. If thatâ€™s the case, they should say so — and, judging from the steady media cacophony, a large number of them do. But what about the Americans who find that talk to be cloying, simplistic and manipulative? Whereâ€™s the media space for them?
One of the great media taboos is to sincerely question â€œfaith in Godâ€ or to suggest that the superficial renditions of faith popularized in mass media are apt to paralyze more than empower.
With all the God talk, big media outlets create ongoing pressure for conformity. That may seem to be an affirmation of shared beliefs or, at worst, inconsequential. But banishing doubt runs the very real risk of banishing — or at least ostracizing — thought.
â€œI donâ€™t know if God exists and I donâ€™t care,â€ Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn wrote a few days ago, bucking the media tide. â€œGodâ€™s will and design for this temporal and spatial vastness, if any, is so patently, deliberately impenetrable that I doubt any mortal has a grasp on it. The very inexplicability of sad events like the tsunami, like the AIDS crisis or even like the cancer death of the father of one of my daughterâ€™s 2nd-grade classmates last week are, to me, reminders to focus on our obligations to one another, not to the infinite; to honor the creator, if any, by honoring creation itself and hoping thatâ€™s good enough.â€
But the media market is bullish on piety — and very fond of the facile reverence that far-flung TV correspondents are now exuding from picturesque beaches struck by Acts of God. We donâ€™t need to impugn the sincerity of any individual to note that such reportage is good for the
Weâ€™re often told that God works in mysterious ways. But