Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: TV (10/04/18)
TITLE: Big-Screen Burdens – and the Allegory of the Cave
By Noel Mitaxa
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Doris’ heart ached for the church she loved; seeing its numbers decline as its members aged, passed away; or moved into retirement homes or full-time nursing care. So many rich memories woven and overlaid on each other - of special friends and celebrations; of heartaches and hopes; of prayers answered; of seeing their young people come alive to God’s grace and find life partners – yet then to move to new, outer-suburban housing estates. Or even interstate, with occasional snatches of news or visits – now with families of their own. The church had been such a powerhouse of life, as a focus for all that was good.
Against that backdrop of seemingly relentless change, Doris’ promise to God and to herself was weighing heavily on her heart. “Dear God, show me how to reach some of my neighbours,” she prayed, “especially the younger mothers.
God stepped in, not so heavily disguised as her friend Cherise, who warmed to the challenge. But would these neighbours want to attend church? Maybe not, but they might drop in for coffee and cake – and maybe a few conversations. The two set to prayer…
Over two weeks, they visited every house for two blocks in each direction from Doris’ house, introducing themselves and learning about pets and kids and jobs and how busy everyone seemed to be.
Still, a few took the risk of coffee and cake - and conversations – to find two elderly ladies who could listen without submerging the topics into their own life stories, or pushing religion too hard. Numbers grew, as word got around that Thursday mornings were worth setting aside.
Surprised and excited to find their new friends responding so positively, Doris and Cherise felt that next time they could encourage them towards simple prayer.
So, next time...
“We’re loving how you keep coming, because you’re helping us to stay young,” Cherise said, “but you’re not the only ones doing that, because we’ve learned to talk with God any time about things that concern or excite us. And he helps us to carry the load when it gets too heavy, but he also helps us to share the good stuff instead of keeping it just for ourselves.”
“She’s right,” said Doris, “and we’d be honoured if anyone wanted to share any of your concerns, because God’s help is always there for us.”
Heads turned, but then...
“I’m really worried about Todd and Bernice,” ventured Sandy. “They’re really messed up, even though they’ve just got married. Bernice’s first husband, Dave, lives next door to them; his nephew Brad is due for release from jail for dealing drugs and he wants to move in with him.”
“That’s true,” Carly added. “Bernice’s father died three days before she married Todd, and she’s just found out that Dave is a major beneficiary of the will, so she’s caught up with legal hassles to try to shut him out.”
“And it looks like Todd’s family has links with organized crime,” came Vikki’s contribution, “so the police are showing more than usual interest in him, especially with news about Brad’s plans to arrive. And if that weren’t enough, her last medical tests have indicated that she has a genetic disposition to the breast cancer that took her mother and all of her aunts.”
“Where has all this been happening?” asked Doris, as Cherise also shared her shock: “How could we have not known about it?”
Concern was etched on every face, before Lucy explained, “We’re so worried about them. Could you please pray that tonight’s episode can straighten everything out for them?”
Suddenly Doris and Cherise realised that they had more seed to sow…
The Allegory of the Cave reveals the prophetic insights of Plato, a philosopher from ancient Greece (427 – 348BC). He saw the material world as a mere copy of the real world, which was spiritual. His allegory describes people in a cave who are captivated by the shadows moving across its back wall – caused by people or objects that were passing between the entrance to the cave and a fire that illuminated its interior. Such people refuse to leave the cave to explore the real world.
The allegory remains a primitive yet precise attempt to describe a cinema – with its illusory world of entertainment – and how people may use it to escape from life’s reality. Television exerts a similar and probably more pervasive influence today, yet I'm not seeking not to ridicule anyone who watches “too much” TV – rather to alert us to our opportunities to make credible connections with the spiritually-homeless people around us, so they may step out of contrived drama or excitement and discover the fulness of life that Jesus offers.
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