There was, family legend asserts, a man opposed to everything. If you enjoyed a thing, say a hairstyle, he would be sure to see in the bob a sign of coming evils. He worried about holidays, Christmas pageants, and “the evil blue light.” This was a television set in the days when television screens consisted of a big tube and were black and white. Wherever he went, he saw the evil blue light through living room windows.
The first bad sign is when a person drives about looking through everyone’s living room windows. This is dangerous in at least two different ways: as a driver and as a citizen. The fatal tipoff is that this was just another in a long list of evils, with intensity of judgment being roughly correlated with the pleasure anyone derived from the activity. The more fun, the more suspect the activity. Beware the nattering nabob of negativity: they have missed the joy of the Lord.
Since God will end creation in a feast, becoming defined by what one is against can reveal very bad thinking.
The nabob of negativity always will have an excuse. After all, the “evil blue light” did have negative social consequences. Television was misused and could cut off other good activities. There was nothing wrong with cautions. Note that caution with new technology and moderation with any pleasure is good. All of this can be done by loving goodness, truth, and beauty joyfully and so retreating from excess or defect in any entertainment.
Naturally, there can be no moderation in vice. Being against injustice is necessary. Ending segregation would have been a noble cause, but even in the pursuit of the best of causes, monomania is a danger. ‘Ware the pro-life warrior who can speak of nothing but the evils of abortion. Be cautious about anyone, even an academic, whose output is a steady drumbeat of what they are against. The “evil blue light” is everywhere they look. The cause may be just, but the person risks an ugliness of soul.
This is not to argue “both sides.” Segregation was wrong, abortion is evil, yet my grandparents long ago observed that when anyone became obsessed with vice, there was something up. Virtue is the goal: not the absence of vice. We want justice, not merely the end of some injustice.
In a book this will often be a chapter on “the problem” with only a short bit on “the solution.” The Biblical prophets condemned the powerful, but on the basis of a clear, compelling vision of a better city. The old Jerusalem was judged, but only in the light of the beauty of God and His justice. I recently read someone, a nabob of negativity, who saw the beloved community of Christ’s Kingdom as being defined by allowing anyone to judge. Having said almost nothing about the good, he returned to condemnation of his particular evil blue lights. He sees them everywhere.
And things are broken, badly so. This must be said plainly. Yet this cannot define us or the evil we see will twist us. We look to beauty and then give a prophetic word against the ugliness of the time. We see the promise of television and then warn about the misuse of the blue light. We must, because the fundamental truth is that God’s creation is good.
The good is marred and that is bad, but the good is fundamental. One can look to the stars to see what is nearly perfect, hardly marred by the fall of devils and men.
Be against being against everything, since God made all things.
Television, I think, monitored by my folks did me much more good than harm. I hope the same is true of my now adult children. The blue light, now multicolored, can be a window to other worlds, a source of learning, and jolly good fun. We use it best when we look beyond the set to God. In the light of His goodness and grace, we can see what is licit and rejoice in what is lawful. Thank God.