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A Menace to Society

The Phantom Menace was released in 1999; also known as Star Wars: Episode 1. Written and directed by George Lucas, this film is set 32 years before the original Star Wars, going back in time after the first three movies, Episodes 4-6. The phantom is revealed when the evil Trade Federation plots to take over the peaceful planet of Naboo. This act forces Jedi warrior Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi into action.

You were running [the race] well; who has interfered and prevented you from obeying the truth? This [deceptive] persuasion is not from Him who called you [to freedom in Christ], Galatians 5:7-8.

America was introduced to the term menace through the Comic Strip turned sitcom Dennis the Menace in 1959. This series preceded The Ed Sullivan Show on Sunday evenings on CBS from October 1959 to July 1963. Dennis’ character is an energetic, well meaning, but trouble prone boy who has a tendency to become a mischievous child. Like an accident waiting to happen, a real menace leaves behind a trail of danger, hazards and peril.

But I say, walk habitually in the [Holy] Spirit [seek Him and be responsive to His guidance], and then you will certainly not carry out the desire of the [g]sinful nature [which responds impulsively without regard for God and His precepts], Galatians 5:16.

Whenever individuals are tempted by their sinful nature, people are at risk at becoming a menace to society. Sure, initial signs of compromise are subtle, but as flirting with fleshly desires becomes a habit, actions, behavior and words will quickly change. Like something out of the movie Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, even family and friends won’t recognize you as evil spreads from the inside out. I pray that this blog serves as a warning so that the Holy Spirit awakens those currently ensnared by their sinful nature.

by Jay Mankus

Losing Faith in the Media

Prior to the introduction of cable and the internet, most Americans only had four to six channels available on their television.  If you wanted to keep up with current events, ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC provided local news at six, followed by world news at 6:30pm.  Names such as Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather, Bob Schieffer, Mike Wallace and Barbara Walters were the people in the media that my parents trusted.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding, Proverbs 3:5.

If my father left for a business trip, he took the local newspaper delivered to our home daily.  Whenever my dad went away for a conference, national papers like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal or some other financial magazine were reliable sources for news.  However, when CNN introduced the concept of a twenty four hour cable news network in 1980, the trust factor began to fade as news started to become more and more sensational to attract new viewers.

Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit, 2 Peter 1:20-21.

Today, as new competitors have entered the arena of cable news, the quality of reporting has declined.  Channels that share common worldviews use talking points to communicate a unified message.  As you switch networks, it seems like several anchors and reporters are reading from the same teleprompter.  Meanwhile, assumptions are regularly made about mainstream Americans which ignore most of the heartland in this country.  As this trend continues, I am offended weekly by members of the media.  Thus, I have reached a point in my life where the less news I hear, the better I feel about life.  This may explain why a growing number of Americans have lost faith in the media.

by Jay Mankus

What’s God’s Handle?

Before the day’s of cell phones, internet and twitter, one of the most popular means of communication was CB radio.   The 1977 classic Smokey and the Bandit starring Bert Reynolds glorified this coded form of conversation.  In this film, Smokey referred to highway patrolmen, especially those setting speed traps for truckers.  Snowman was Cledus’ handle, played by Jerry Reed, who drove an 18 wheeler full of 400 cases of Coors Beer and Bandit was Reynold’s nickname, who teamed up with fellow drivers to escape the police and fulfill their dare with Big and Little Enos, driving 2 vehicles from Georgia to Texas just in time for a big celebration.

In the 2003 Pilot episode, Amber Tamblyn plays Joan Girardi, a high school junior trying to comprehend God’s handle on life during Season 1 of Joan of Arcadia.  Through a series of strange events, Joan’s not sure if she’s crazy, delirious or actually able to hear God speak.  Afraid to tell others she is communicating with God, Joan starts to subtly ask others their opinions about the Lord’s existence, trying to make sense of her bizarre encounters.  Finally, after obeying God’s first assignment slowly, she lays down to sleep, removing her headphones, hoping to discern God’s voice, waiting in silence, like an old CB radio with static.

The most difficult part of adjusting to God’s Handle, the still small voice of the Holy Spirit, 1 Kings 19:12, as your volume is not always tuned up.  However, when you do make a conscience effort to hear God, sometimes you may want to turn the dial to another channel because you’re not happy with what you hear.  This is where Free will enters the equation.  If you are able to watch the first season of Joan of Arcadia, CBS and the writers of the show do a valiant job of illustrating moments of obedience and disobedience.  Although the nature of God is flawed by Joan Osborne’s song “What if God was one of us,” the premise challenges the audience to ponder, “what’s God’s handle?”

by Jay Mankus

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