Here's an emerging Lenten commitment for me: NO more cable news shows! (Maybe ever but certainly not during the wilderness prayers of Lent that commence on February 13, 2012: Ash Wednesday.) Sure, I'll still watch David Brooks and Mark Shields on the Friday evening PBS news show - and I'll read the NY Times most days, too - but the time has come to unplug a little more from the madness.
Todd Gitlin has written about what it feels like to live in our inflated, exaggerated and anxious popular culture like this: We are saturated with images and sounds - and the more we watch, the more everything "feels uniform - with a relentless pace, a pattern of interruption, a pressure toward unseriousness, a readiness for sensation, an anticipation of the next new thing" until we "can't help but be attracted to the liveliness of images and their stimulation." Indeed, this desire may quickly grow into "an addiction, a need to feel these qualities... (so that we) flit around treating life like a series of snapshots... we may close our eyes for relief, but usually not for long."
Like Henri Nouwen used to say, "If your life is full and you are still bored... something is wrong!" I am not saying I'm bored, but I do recognize how easily I can get sucked into the hype of the 24/7 news junkies. What's more, their hyperbole nourishes only what is mean spirited and cynical. So, rather than give in to what is a waste, I'm going to work on practicing my bass more so that it becomes more fluid, creative and authentically me. My commitment to Lent is to cultivate something beautiful for the Lord - I'll be fasting from the crass and sensationalistic - in pursuit of Christ's peace. Want to join me? (And now it is off to play a jazz gig with my buds...)