Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Stephen Tobolowsky on Conspiracy Theories (with some additional thoughts of my own)

The Tobolowsky Files are a series of podcasts [and now broadcasts, heard on stations such as 89.3FM here in Louisville] in which "legendary character actor Stephen Tobolowsky shares a series of short stories about life, love, and the entertainment industry."  Now, if there was a series of podcasts/broadcasts in which someone told tales taken from the life of someone like Abraham Lincoln or Nikola Tesla, it would make sense that people would find it captivating. But you might think that stories from the life of a "character actor" that you may or may not have heard of [remember Sammy Jankis(?)] would be boring, and there is no reason you should be wrong; nevertheless, everyone I know who has listened to at least five minutes of The Tobolowsky Files has found it to be inexplicably riveting.

One thing that makes the Files so interesting is that Tobolowsky does something that is fairly rare: he looks back and carefully reflects on events and issues from his life. Now I certainly disagree with some of Tobolowsky's presuppositions (he is a Jew and not a Christian), but (due, I believe, to common grace) I often find that he comes to insightful conclusions.

In Episode 40, "The Man in the Closet," Tobolowsky considers conspiracy theories (in distinction from science, art, and religion); he observes:
Conspiracy theories aren't so interested in finding the light; they take another approach: they jump into oblivion with both feet, shouting, "Hey, the dark isn't so bad after all! Follow me! Last one in is probably one of THEM"... Conspiracies can disguise themselves as science or as history, but you can always spot them because their goal is never to reveal the truth but only to reveal a villain; once you name a villain, then you create the need for a hero, which usually turns out to be the person telling you about the conspiracy in the first place.
I think Tobolowsky makes some good points about conspiracy theories. I also think that-- because we do believe in a villain who is ultimately behind at least a great deal of the evil in the world-- Christians can be more susceptible than most people to falling for a conspiracy theory type of mindset. But I would like to point out that Christians must consistently distinguish ourselves from conspiracy theorists in at least two related ways:

1) We must not be content with naming villains, but must focus on knowing and proclaiming the Light: specifically, the true Light, Jesus Christ (John 8:12);

2) We must be humbly and consistently clear that we are not the "heroes" of the story; rather, the Lord Jesus is the hero. Ultimately, we are all just "character actors."

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