When I was a child, I wondered why we should reject Satan “and all his empty promises.” When had Satan ever promised anything to me?
I got the answer watching TV. The popular culture, as laid out before us on television and the Internet, is the devil’s most conspicuous platform. Here we find not just a few empty promises, but a whole religion of empty promises. A religion that looks something like this …
1. TV and the Internet are the lords, thy gods, who brought thee out of the twofold darkness of prejudice and ignorance, out of the house of boredom. Thou shalt not have strange gods before these.
Thou shalt not bear on thy person or on thy bumper any word or image or likeness of anything that is in heaven above; thou shalt not adore the things of heaven, nor serve them: TV and the Internet are thy gods, mighty, jealous, visiting the scourge of public censure upon them that serve them not, and showing mercy unto thousands to them that love them and keep their commandments.
2. Thou shalt not say the Pledge of Allegiance, nor wish unto anyone a Merry Christmas, nor bear on thy person any word or graven image as a sign of worship unto strange gods, lest thou impose thy values on others, oppressing them exceedingly. Nor shalt thou use the name of “Lord” or “God” or “Jesus” or “Christ,” lest thou offend.
(Thou mayest, of course, use the same names as expletives, and thou shalt not show displeasure, nay nor even feel it, in the presence of those thus using them, lest thou offend.)
3. Remember that thou keep holy the weekend — including autumn Monday nights — and profane it not. Five days shalt thou labor, but weekends were made for Michelob, Blockbuster and for sleeping till the crack of noon.
4. Parents, obey thy children and serve them cheerfully; impose not thy values upon them nor make thee bold to invade their privacy; give ear unto their wisdom, and imitate them in all things, walking in all their ways. A wise father hears the doctrines of his son, the new things which in his dotage he knoweth not, but he that is a scorner heareth not when he is reproved. Children, be thou patient with thy parents who have not thy wisdom nor thy youth, but bring them up in the doctrines of thy friends and cultural icons; yet be not the less vigorous in demanding thy rights, lest thy parents become wayward and thou be held to answer for it.
5. Thou shalt not smoke, nor consume partially hydrogenated oils. Thou shalt mimic and prolong the days of thy youth cosmetically.
6. Thou shalt use birth control, and practice “safe sex,” and give public honor to any lifestyle choice.
7. Thou shalt not steal illegally, but by every legal means shalt thou profit, and multiply thy profits, getting as much for as little as thou canst, increasing the rate at which thou shalt profit, and increasing besides the rate at which the rate of increase in thy profits increases.
8. Thou shalt not be a witness to thy neighbor, lest thou offend. Thy private preferences are an abomination in his sight.
9. Thou shalt covet thy neighbor’s wife, and after the season of seven years shalt thou be bored with thine own wife. Thou shalt make a covenant with thine eyes to adore every woman provided for thee by TV and the Internet for the amusement of thy soul.
10. Thou shalt covet thy neighbor’s house, and incur whatever debts thou must lest thou keepest not up with the Joneses. Covet thou thy neighbor’s car, and his gas grill, and his iPod, and all else that thou seest on TV and the Internet, lest the economy languish.
Of course, the real Lawgiver doesn’t forbid us from using the TV and popular culture for moderate and reasonable recreation. But never forget your TV does not have a very modest view of its own job description. As far as it’s concerned, its role is not just that of entertainer, but of teacher and lawgiver besides.