"The American self characteristically chooses advertisers instead of apostles as guides." Eugene Peterson.
What guides you?
In the wake of the election and all the questions and concerns it has raised, it is important for to ask ourselves what are the voices that are guiding us, leading us, and shepherding us as we face the future.
Advertisers exist to sell products.
When you were a kid, advertisers for the latest cereal or action figure embedded themselves in the pauses of Saturday morning cartoons, with the hopes to catch your eye and your stomach and lead you to their product.
This is what made the Saturday morning cartoons a profitable endeavor for TV stations.
As media platforms have proliferated with the advent and spread of the internet, so has the number of screens, programs, and sources of entertainment and information. And though that part is different, much remains the same: to be profitable, most if not, all are driven by the same economic system- advertisers selling product.
What this means is that if I am a platform owner (NY Times, Fox News, CNN, Facebook, Instagram etc. etc.) I am in the business of the attention economy- if I can get and hold your attention, I can then advertise to you, and therefore I can make money.
How this plays out in a political cycle is that if I am a platform owner or content producer I am not incentivized to feature middle of the road positions, solid character, and good sportsmanship.
None of those get or hold attention.
I am incentivized to feature things that incite shock, fear, awe, rage and controversy. These are the thing that grab and hold attention.
And so often as Americans these are the voices that we bend our ear to listen to and be led by.
Let's contrast that with the voice of the apostles: the words of Scripture.
Rather than seeking to take, they seek to give.
Rather than seeking to lead to wolves, they seek to lead to green pastures
Rather than being optimized for short term ratings, they point to the long game.
Rather than spewing the fad of the age, they resound with the wisdom of the ages.
In this season, if you are a follower of Jesus, I encourage you to make the commitment to be led, fed and shepherded not by your Facebook feed, or by whatever the next media outlet to break the next "shocking news" comes your way, but to turn to the timeless words of Scripture as the guide, sustenance and strength of your soul.
We need you, and we need you full of the grace, love and rootedness that comes from being led by apostles, not advertisers.