” … you have to respect the culture’s power to suck you in.  If you want to write about it, you can’t be up to your neck in it. You can’t hang out with celebrities being shot by paparazzi.  You have to be more careful.”

David Foster Wallace

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Detachment.  Not an easy trick for a social being.  But the culture, any culture – and particularly mass culture – can “suck you in” or make you merely an object of its destruction.  Detachment, then, employs the strength of solitude. Thank God, we are made for solitude and social existence.  Perhaps this is the vital temperature gauge.  Sometimes social and sometimes solitary.  One or the other in seasons of confusion and destruction, or those all-to-brief interludes of peace and tranquility.  Yes, the seasons of destruction seem longer now and closer to us.

Destruction.  Remember the demonic Charles Manson who sent impressionable others to murder?  Remember his words, “Of course I’m crazy.  I’m completely insane.  But before, it meant something.  Now everyone is crazy.”

Well, not “everyone,” but far too many.  There are simply too many personal encounters and too much visual evidence.  Crazy in high places, not low.  Mass culture is like that.  Its images matter.  Without care, you become what is most unbecoming.

Novelist Don Dellio has the keen eye of an observer.  He notes, “You become a consumer of antisocial acts in a way that … you buy a hot dog …”  Mass culture.  It can deconstruct and destroy without a wrinkle of self-doubt or remorse.

Mass culture.  In Czeslaw Milosz’s The Captive Mind he discusses how Polish army officers who were exiled to the Soviet Union under the German-Russian Non-Aggression Pact were murdered by the Soviets because, as members of the Polish intelligentsia, they “obstructed the way of the revolution that was to be imposed on Poland” and then Milosz explains: “Communism recognizes that rule over men’s minds is the key to rule over an entire country, the word is the cornerstone of this system.”  Yes, too close today for comfort.  But for Word, we are despaired.

Word.  Ah, this is where Christ comes in.  The indispensable, eternal, supreme, Divine counterpoint:

 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (Jn 1:1)

Destruction and Mass Culture.  Detachment.  Solitude and Christ.

Christ – more now than ever.  Christ.  Christ.  Christ.

Shalom.

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