Honesty: For Love or Money?
And you guys thought I was already quitting on my plan only two days into it! You forgot that your friendly neighborhood Fumbler had to watch T.O. toss up some celebratory popcorn, then butterfingeredly fumble away a touchdown before the referees decided that they just couldn’t allow America’s Team to lose to Brett Favre and the Fresh-Faced Pack.
Last night, Psalm 32 was the invitational reading, and I’ve been thinking about honesty ever since. The Psalmist shows us one kind of honesty. The world shows us another.
Stephen King has been an apocalyptic author for almost 30 years. The Dark Tower story (completed in 2004 or 2005) of the gunslinger Roland Deschain doggedly seeking to hold his world together as evil, chaos, and entropy wear it down. The Stand (published in a brutally edited form in 1978 and in its entirety in 1990), where 98% of the world’s population is wiped out by the superflu, and a minion of Satan calls some of the survivors to gather around him (in Las Vegas, no less) to destroy the rest of the race. In 1982, though, his blunter alter-ego Richard Bachman published two incredibly prescient novellas displaying the dehumanizing impetus of our culture in all its Mapplethorpean grotesquerie.
Titled The Long Walk and The Running Man, they were about game shows. The Long Walk combined a nation-wide lottery for participants, a nation-wide broadcast, a $1 billion prize, and one brutal rule – walk 4 miles an hour or faster until everyone else in the race is dead. If you fall below 4 miles an hour for more than 30 seconds, you will be shot dead by the race judges. The Running Man, set in a proto-Orwellian near future, was the most popular game show on a network dedicated to games of sadistic torture and humiliation, where the object was to escape death squads hunting you and fellow citizens reporting your whereabouts for cash. You won $100 per hour, and the grand prize (again $1 billion) if you survived for 30 days.
Today, in 2007, in the world Stephen King lives in and I write about, we have The Amazing Race and Survivor, two insanely popular “reality TV” shows. But the worst is yet to come. This winter, imported from Colombia, produced on Fox TV, you can play “Nothing But The Truth!” where you are strapped to a polygraph lie detector and interrogated with crass, humiliating, and cruel questions. If the box says you are telling the truth, you win money! One of the promos that nearly made me literally vomit tonight shows a 30-something man being surprised by the producers with an appearance by his estranged father, who asks, “Will you forgive me and let me back into your life?”
While we’re patting ourselves on the back because we don’t have musical instruments or women in the pulpit, this is what is happening in the world around us, the world for which we are supposed to shine like stars, be a city on a hill, suffer on behalf of, and turn upside down with love and grace! The world our Father loves! The world for which our Brother was murdered! But that is a WHOLE different blog.
The Psalmist says:
- Count yourself lucky, how happy you must be — you get a fresh start, your slate’s wiped clean!
- Count yourself lucky — God holds nothing against you and you’re holding nothing back from him.
- When I kept it all inside, my bones turned to powder, my words became daylong groans
- Then I let it all out; I said, “I’ll make a clean breast of my failures to God….”
- …God-defiers are always in trouble; God-affirmers find themselves loved every time they turn around!
God is no game show host, and honesty will not earn you cash prizes and all-expense-paid trips! We can be honest because we are loved. We will be honest because we love in return.
Many are the woes of the wicked, but the LORD’s unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in him!
in HIS love,
PS – By contrast, on “Don’t Forget the Lyrics” a young lady had arranged for her mother and sister in Grand Rapids, MI to be one of her lifelines. When she selects them to help her, the big screen in the studio comes to life and shows two empty chairs sitting in the Grand Rapids affiliate’s studio.
What’s going on, right? Did they go to the bathroom? Did they get lost?
No, the show flew the mother and sister to be able to help in person. The young contestant broke down in tears because she had not been able to get home and see her family in 6 years. One grace note amidst the discordant tones of darkness.