not a fan of the media. I don’t mean media as a
communication device even though I wonder if the days of
dial telephones and snail mail were truly the good old
days… I mean media as the conglomeration of
corporations and people creating all manners of
entertainment and everything related to that industry.
Basically, I believe that the media in general is the
education department of the demon of the spirit of the
age. We are constantly indoctrinated with post-modernism,
relativism and humanism through movies, television,
radio, music, art, pop religion and magazines. Nothing
is merely entertainment, nor is anything merely a
program, a song, or even a commercial break. Nothing is
created out of a vacuum or accidentally… it comes from
some “place” even if the creators are unaware of that
sense I’m not really qualified to critique the media. I
grew up not watching TV and a lot of movies, and I still
don’t. I rarely read a magazine except when I’m waiting
for an oil change or a root canal. The last thing I
remember on TV is basically Captain Kangaroo, The
Flintstones, Lunch with Soupy Sales and the wonderful
world of Disney. So when I see glimpses of some crime
drama or sit com or movie the change in what is
considered normal and acceptable for network television
or PG13 viewing is pretty glaring. What was rated X at
the movies when I was a teenager is now on prime time TV.
So in another sense I think I’m immanently qualified to
critique the media because I haven’t been a frog in the
water slowly being boiled to death but not noticing the
change for the last 48 years. But more than that, when
the first thing you remember when you are watching TV or
listening to the media is Jesus Christ and Him crucified
for the sake of the fallen world and all its
manifestations, the spirit of the age and the deceptions
of the media are also pretty glaring.
media has slowly desensitized us to the grossness of sin
and debauchery. Torture, rape, adultery, murder…you
name the lowest act a human being can sink to and it
passes for entertainment now. Nothing is left to the
imagination, in fact the media prides itself on
portraying things most of us could never even imagine.
the things that has occurred to me lately is that the
microcosm of the media is advertising. It takes the
culture, the pop philosophies and psychologies, human
motivations and desires that drive the greater
entertainment industry and distills them down to 30
second spots and single phrase slogans. Advertisers
spend millions of dollars doing market and psychological
research to discover what will motivate people to buy a
client’s stuff. More often than not it is not only the
merit of the product, but a feeling or status or aura
they can create around the product that appeals to a
human desire. There is even a method and purpose to
putting commercials and ads in certain TV programs and
magazines because of the demographics of the viewers.
It is all a carefully targeted and orchestrated appeal,
much like choosing specific bait to catch a certain fish
in a lake.
Advertising is nothing new. It is merely a tool to
influence you to buy a product by an enticement of some
kind. Satan ran the first ad agency in Eden and ALL
advertising has used the same three fundamental appeals
since then: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes
and the pride of life. Advertising taps into the fallen
order’s core beliefs, the current philosophical mindsets
and cultural agendas. Campaigns, slogans and “tag lines”
are not created in a vacuum, they are well researched,
finely tuned and tested. They are not innocuous and
without meaning or influence. They invariably speak to
a human weakness but twist it to make it sound like a
“Just do it”:
Oh yeah…Do we really want a world in
which no one has any impulse control and no one
considers the consequences of their actions? What kid
in trouble hasn’t said, “I dunno…I just did it….”?
Aren’t we supposed to grow out of that?
Advertising also appeals to the passions. I was
Sparklett’s Water truck on the freeway
yesterday. The poster on the back side said “The taste
you deserve without the calories!”
Ummmm…. “The taste you deserve”? Who DESERVES taste???
sense of of entitlement is one of the latest
narcissistic characteristics of an unabashedly self
absorbed culture that advertisers are tapping in to. TV,
radio and print ads tell you that you deserve a break,
pampering, peace of mind, pleasure in unlimited and
boundless quantities, to have bill collectors leave you
alone, and yes, even water that has flavor and won’t
make you fat.
you deserve all that? Simple. Just because you exist.
not really. You don’t deserve it, you feel entitled to
it. Advertisers are merely schmoozing your self
absorption to separate you from your money (I know
that’s news to many of you… sorry to burst your bubble).
But if you’re oblivious and narcissistic enough to
believe what they are telling you, you deserve to be
taken and they deserve to get your money. The problem
is, as much as we have we believe it is normative and
whatever more is added quickly becomes what we are
dunno… whenever I see people upset because they didn’t
get what they think they’re entitled to it just confirms
my belief that Entitlement is its own hell.
Anyway, we’ve all heard Burger King’s “Have it your way”
and the ubiquitous “Indulge yourself” attached to so
many products from ice cream to spa treatments,: Do I
even need to say anything about this?
radio strikes to the heart of the egomania of the
contentious and self appointed gate keepers: “Where your opinion counts”: Oh SURE it does… for arbitron
ratings which translate into more advertising dollars.
BUT… as a local car dealer tells me every morning: “It's all about you”,
could go on and on and on but the common thread is “the
spirit of the age” and the fallen human being’s self
centeredness. We are constantly bombarded with catch
phrases that reinforce secular humanism, relativism,
post modernism, narcissism, hedonism, entitlement, and
selfishness. If you look at ad copy and listen to the
tag lines of commercials critically, you’ll begin to see
what is shaping our minds. We are immersed in media
that ministers to our short attention spans with sound
bites, catchy phrases and slogans. For the most part we
are uncritical consumers of the constant menu of godless
philosophy laid before us by the media.
eating supper and reach for the KETCHUP… and there….On
my supper table… On the KETCHUP bottle…on the lowly,
common, unglamorous, ordinary, unpretentious, homely
KETCHUP is a billboard for the gospel of relativism and
humanism: “YOU BE THE JUDGE” is in capital letters on
sure, its just a contest, its just an advertising
gimmick… but what does it say to you and teach your
children every time you pick it up? YOU are the
arbiter, you are the definer of reality, you alone are
the discerner of all things …including ketchup….. yes,
it tells you what you want to hear: you are god ( with
a small g…)
be the judge” is exactly what the Serpent tempted Adam
and Eve with: “You will be like God, knowing good from
evil”. My ketchup bottle tempts me to the same lie:
*I* am the judge.
ketchup bottle that far removed from the serpent and the
apple? (OK…I know it wasn’t an apple…it very well might
have been a tomato.) Am I over reacting? Of course I
think not … otherwise I wouldn’t be wasting my time
recording this. The bottom line is, both are lies
feeding our human ego, and insofar as we believe them
and live according to them we are less than truly human.
come on, Steve…its JUST KETCHUP!! How much influence can
reality is, Words are important. With a word Jesus
casts out demons. The word of faith saves us. God’s
words do not return to Him empty. By your words you are
judged. A word can heal or kill. Words mean something.
No word is empty (and for that matter neither is well
placed silence)… And just because there are very few
words and they are subtle and placed in an inconspicuous
place makes them even more seditious and dangerous.
phrase on the ketchup bottle was not “Ketchup tasting
Contest!” It was a relativistic humanist platitude that
is shoved down the throats of millions of people every
day in media. (Perhaps I should rephrase that…millions
of people open their mouths and swallow it willingly
because they don’t have the discernment to see what they
are being fed is philosophical poison )
be the judge” on a ketchup bottle…Is it a small thing?
Sure, in isolation. But it is not an isolated message,
it is THE message of the age broadcast in small doses in
hundreds of ways that there is no truth except what you
think it is…. And if you load enough pennies in a sack
eventually it will weigh enough to crush someone.
a lot more to say about this but I’m out of time today.
Moral relativism: should we return to boiling people in
oil for their philosophy?
What is truth?
A man who thought he was a rabbit.
And ten things you can’t say as a humanistic relativist.
************ Part 2 ************
previous rant… ummm, podcast…. I talked about the gospel
of relativism and how it is spread through the media,
mostly blatantly but often subtly and inconspicuously.
I remember a few years ago listening to a local talk
radio station and it dawned on me across the day that
ALL of the hosts would encourage callers by saying “How
do you FEEEEL about that….” . Not once in a day would a
program host say… “What do you think…” it was ALWAYS how
do you feel. I’m not a conspiracy theorist by a long
shot, but it certainly seemed that this was a result of
a directive, training or some kind of manual for talk
show hosts on this particular station. Is there a real
philosophical difference between “How do you feel” and
“What do you think”? In reality there is, but according
to the vague anthropology of our culture there isn’t a
difference, the two are definitionally virtually
synonymous. And in practice for the most part, we are
indeed led by our emotions and not our reason. Debby
Boone’s old lyrics and the thousands of variations on
them “How can it be wrong when it feels so right…” is
an anthropological statement that defines the human
person and how we process reality.
the issues in our culture is that we don’t have open
debate and intelligent dialogue about things as basic as
a view of the human person, metaphysics and the universe.
We can discuss the bail out, taxes, the airlines checked
baggage charges, interest rates… we can debate and
scream all day at each other about anything in
“particular” but we can’t discuss everything “in general”.
We’re willing to hear and debate people’s opinions on
“some things” but not on “everything”, which is what is
really important because how we define the universe will
determine how we define what is and isn’t an issue and
what should or can be done about them.
used to be heretics in the world, now there are merely
personal feelings about things. Heretics can only exist
where there is dogma, and in former times people were
burned at the stake for a wrong philosophy. Of course
we’re much more enlightened than that now and no longer
boil people in oil for heretical beliefs, but the issue
is not so much whether we should use the cauldron of oil
as a penalty, it is how we have done away with the
notion of “heresy”.
Chesterton in “Orthodoxy” said, There is only one thing
that is infinitely more absurd and unpractical than
burning a man for his philosophy. This is the habit of
saying his philosophy does not matter. Politeness,
intellectual laziness, and lack of willingness to openly
explore and address the consequences of one’s philosophy
has done to the world what the Inquisition, Crusades,
witch hunts, the stocks, the stake and the cauldron
could not do: silence the heretics.
fact of the matter is we are living in a neo-pagan world.
The pagan is thought of as a person without religion, it
is actually a person with several religions and most of
them have at the center themselves as their god. The
moral relativist is the modern pagan, usually a person
who claims to have either no religion but is “spiritual”.
The New Age spirituality is a modern expression of
paganism that, to its discredit, has an even fuzzier
definition of God and the universe than true ancient
pagans did. The ancient pagans at least had gods who
were in control of various aspects of creation and the
human being’s behavior even if it meant sacrificing
virgins or having a fertility ritual in the fields at
the spring equinox. The modern pagans have no gods but
themselves because they are too enlightened, spiritually
highly evolved, and smart to believe in Pan, Bacchus or
Zeus…but they go for wine, women and song without the
whole “god thing” attached to it.
paganism’s attraction is that it is vague and ambiguous
enough that it allows its adherents to justify any
behavior they want to in themselves or others with whom
they happen to agree. It also permits them to condemn
anything that smacks of intolerance and judgmentalism….all
in the name of being on a higher spiritual plane than
everyone else caught up in ancient moralities that don’t
apply to our modern advanced and enlightened age.
Unfortunately for the modern pagan, truth is not
ambiguous. Truth is exclusive, it sets boundaries and
defines things with precision. Truth is, by its nature,
intolerant of falsehood, vagueness and inclusivity of
things contrary to it. All of humanity and its
endeavors including science, metaphysics, politics, and
even social structures rely on a notion of exclusive,
precise and concrete truth. You don’t even want to buy
gas without a concept of truth working at the gas pump…we
don’t want Exxon to invoke tolerance and a notion of
“your truth and my truth are just different” when it
comes to paying the bill.
Someone can point out that what was thought to be true (like
"the world is flat" or "Keanu Reeves can act"), has been
demonstrated to be false, but that does not do away with
the notion of truth, it just proves something was not
true or was falsely believed to be true. GK Chesterton says,
if something is true it is true at all times and length
of time has nothing to do with its veracity. Someone
might say “Oh that was true for the ancients but not for
us modern men”. That is like saying something is true
at 7 AM, but not true at 8:45. And if something is
false, it is false at noon and at suppertime. Time does
not alter truth or falsehood. . I remember in the 60’s
when Fletcher came out with his book on “the new
morality”….someone said, that’s neither new, nor moral,
it’s the same old nastiness that’s been around forever.
Who is right, Fletcher or the preacher, depends on your
definition of truth.
ultimately, “What is truth” is a valid question worthy
of spending one’s life trying to answer. “All truth is
relative” or “Truth is what is true for you” are
statements of intellectual laziness at best and
philosophical lunacy at worst.
We hear people say all the time, “Well that’s true for
you…” or some variation of it. If we really held that
thinking to the fire there’s a whole lot of discussion
that couldn’t take place in any meaningful way. Here’s
11 things that are pretty much off the table if someone
REALLY believes in relativism.
You cannot say “we HAVE to have tolerance for everyone’s
points of view”, that would include the view of the
intolerant person who wants to kill everyone who is
tolerant. Bernard Shaw once wrote: The golden rule is
that there is no golden rule. When the absolute is that
there is no absolute then everything is permitted,
including intolerance, whether we like it or not.
You cannot talk about “truth”. If we say “everything is
an aspect of the truth” then we must admit we know what
the truth IS, just as if a car collector says, “This is
a bumper from a 1957 Cadillac”, he knows what a 57 Caddy
is and one truly exists. However, modern armchair
philosophers will say “we can’t know truth”, only parts
of it… then how can we know something is a PART of truth
if we have no clue what TRUTH is? or if we claim there
is no “absolute truth”. It is like saying “this is a 57
Caddy bumper, but there is no such thing as a 57 Caddy.
(That would be too bad….) It is fashionable to be
“ignorant of absolute truth” and yet we claim to embrace
“truth” where we find it. It seems that if we are to
find real truth somewhere or anywhere, we need to know
MORE certainly what it looks like, not less, otherwise
we have no clue what we are looking for or looking at….
We’d have no clue if we have a bumper from a Cadillac or
a gas tank from a Pinto.
Cannot talk of “progress”. It is considered “dogmatic”
to teach that a human being is intended to progress
toward a divine image in which he is created, but
“non-dogmatic” to teach that society needs to make
progress for all human beings to attain personal
fulfillment (whatever THAT means)! Personal fulfillment
is a dogma, and so is the notion of “progress”, which
assumes that where we’ve been is less than or worse than
where we should be going. If there are no absolutes,
then progress or regress or congress are all the same
Speaking of congress: We cannot even talk about
government and policy in a meaningful way. Differences
of opinion on the Wall Street/auto industry bail out and
judgments on the ethical character of CEO’s who take
billion dollar bonuses are pointless. Who are we to
push our middle class, Puritan, work ethic values on those
who get wealthy in a way we can’t? Why does the bailout even matter, and what difference does it make if all
things are relative, there is no absolute good or evil
to poverty or riches and how we got there? We distrust
a person with a different economic policy, but not one
with a different view of good and evil, or of God, or of
the nature of the material universe.
cannot punish someone for doing wrong because good and
evil are ultimately self defined. However if truth is
what YOU feel, if you just don’t like someone you can
put him in boiling oil because wellll….it's not immoral,
just painful to the other person, but who cares? If we
see someone torturing a puppy, we cannot say the person
is evil, we cannot say stopping him is good. If we
apply relativism strictly, we can however say the puppy
AND puppy’s pain matters to ME, but then we have to
tolerate the fact that it doesn’t matter to the person
who is enjoying torturing the animal.
cannot say “Thank you” and mean it, because there is no
difference between “gimme that, wench” and “Please pass
the ketchup, dear.” But try it and see if it matters,
you’ll have the whole night to lay awake and
philosophize about “why am I sleeping on the couch with
You cannot say “excuse me” because no excuse is needed
for anything we do, and nothing we do can be taken as
offensive. And if it is, so what? Who cares except the
person offended…and why should I care… unless I like
sleeping with the dog….
cannot talk about “rights” for oppressed people. Blacks,
gays, women, third world occupants or other religious
groups may be labeled inferior by other groups who fancy
themselves to be superior, but the label inferior has no
meaning because there is not a standard of “superior”,
they just are what they are. “Rights” and how they are
treated doesn’t matter anyway because “equality” is a
pointless status that has no objective meaning except
what each person imagines it to be for themselves.
You cannot say morality is based on what is useful to
society, necessary for peace and order, or a combined
agreement among members of a society because society,
peace, order and agreement become the absolute criteria
for good, and if a society decides to exterminate Jews,
Muslims, Blacks or all men over 5 feet 8 with size 9 ½
triple E shoes because in some weird way they’ve decided
it will make their society better, who can say no?
You cannot say some societies need to evolve to higher
standards of living, laws, or culture and social
programs. Female circumcision, child prostitution,
slavery, rules of terror and genocide are all equally
valid expressions of human nature and culture, after all
rule by force and terror is universal. Changing the
environment and structure of social systems has no point
because all societies are equally right and equally
expressing what is right for them and we have no right
to judge or push our societal norms on them.
You cannot say, “Whoa, dude…that was cool”, or
“Honeybuns, yer wonderful”, nor can you say, “that
stinks”, nor can you be proud when someone says
“You’re the bomb”… well, of course you CAN say or do any
of those things. But in the end they are meaningless
because they are merely someone’s pointless opinion at
that moment, And they are meaningless because they have
no reference to any objective reality or measure of
“goodness, worth or beauty”, consequently praise has no
real point for you except a fleeting moment of an
illusion of pleasure. But when you get down to it, the
real pragmatics of relativism is that it is mostly used
to fend off blame and responsibility…, you’ll never hear
a relativist avoid praise.
relativist may claim a broader basis for his ideology
and moral judgments like culture, societal norms and
evolutionary desires embedded in our genes, all boiling
down to some form of mechanistic materialism which dead
ends in determinism,… but no matter how he gets there in
his philosophical fog, in the end it is about himself
as the sole arbiter and judge of even those things.
Ultimately, there is no absolute standard beyond his own
thoughts, experience and feelings.
Indeed, “You are the judge” because in the end it is
merely all a matter of opinion, and the only opinion
that matters is your own as we are constantly reminded
by radio, television, new age spirituality, the arts and
even yes, even ketchup bottles.
reminded of a quote from “Platitudes Undone” where
Holbrook Jackson writes: “No opinion matters finally: except your own.”
which GK Chesterton replies: “...said the man who
thought he was a rabbit.”
return you to your supper table and your regularly