“The greatest need of our time is to clean out the enormous mass of mental and emotional rubbish that clutters our minds and makes all political and social life a mass illness. Without this housecleaning we cannot begin to see. Unless we can see, we cannot think.”
– Thomas Merton, from Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, written in 1966
If it were for not the fact that the book was written in 1966, or that Merton died tragically in 1968 at the age of 53, this quote could easily be attributed to any wise person viewing the ongoing political scrum or tuning into the news on any given night.
Merton's prescription, for how to go about purging the rubbish that clutters our minds, concludes with, "The purification must begin with the mass media." Fascinating, right? Think about this: CNN was still year from being introduced, and Facebook and Twitter were decades away, but Merton seems to be pointing directly at any and all of them. But, where do we go to get away from the non-stop barrage of noise and criticism, opinion and spin? I have bad news; there are 134 days from this Sunday until election day on November 8. And, do any of us think that the angry, soul-draining, mind-numbing crush of the 24-hour news cycle will cease on that date? No, none of us think that. What can we do? Scripture offers this:
- Romans 12: - Don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can figure out what God’s will is - what is good and pleasing and mature.
- Philippians 4:8-9 - From now on, brothers and sisters, if anything is excellent and if anything is admirable, focus your thoughts on these things: all that is true, all that is holy, all that is just, all that is pure, all that is lovely, and all that is worthy of praise. Practice these things: whatever you learned, received, heard, or saw in us. The God of peace will be with you.
- Hebrews 3:1 - Therefore, brothers and sisters who are partners in the heavenly calling, think about Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession.
- 2 Timothy 1:7 - God didn’t give us a spirit that is timid but one that is powerful, loving, and self-controlled.
May we renews our minds, stay focused on what is true and lovely, seek out Jesus, and know that we have a powerful spirit that, with God's help, can overcome the rubbish that would make a home in our hearts. Grace and peace, Scott