TV

Stewart, Orwell & God – Three Peas in a Pod

August 9, 2015
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[fyi: a smidge of mature language ahead]

i loved The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
for lots of reasons . .
probably a lot of the same reasons
you loved it:
it was super funny,
super intelligent,
constantly captured the zeitgeist
(a feat which is getting
increasingly harder
given the interwebs and all),
was a good way to actually
stay up on issues
(albeit with its own slant),
etc. etc. . .
and i loved it for the host,
Jon Stewart himself

now that his epic run on the show
has come to an end,
i’m going to
add to the voices reflecting
on what it meant . .
what he meant . .
i’m going to reflect on
what i believe to be
his most lasting
contribution

thankfully, Stewart pretty much
summed it up for us
in a final
“meet me at camera 3” speech
near the end of his
final episode,
which itself was
summed up in its final lines:
“The best defense against bullshit is vigilance. So if you smell something, say something.”
(if possible, treat yourself
to the entire speech . .
transcript here: http://time.com/3988497/jon-stewart-daily-show-finale-rant-bullshit/
video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RM6vs7CXZ1E)

now, just what “bullshit”
is he talking about?
well, first of all,
according to the speech,
he’s not talking about
the “innocuous” type
we all engage in
out of social obligation . .
stuff like
lying about the
cuteness (or lack thereof)
of babies, to use his example :)

according to the speech,
there are “three basic flavors” of
“more pernicious bullshit” . .
these types, basically,
are tools of the powerful . .
in Stewart’s words,
“…premeditated, institutional bullshit, designed to obscure and distract. Designed by whom? The bullshitocracy.”

this is what he wants us
be vigilant about:
obscuring, distracting tools,
used ultimately to oppress us . .
and i agree with Stewart:
this message should be seen as
his most lasting contribution
(along with his note to
also *enjoy* being so vigilant,
since “…looking for [bullshit] is kind of a pleasant way to pass the time.” . .
his enjoyment of it, seems to me, btw,
was obvious and intoxicating . .
and part of the allure
of his show)

now, as a former teacher
who had the privilege of
teaching George Orwell for a number of years,
this message –
that we need to look for
and call out
the tools of the oppressors,
and that these tools
are often subtle,
linguistic ones
(like bullshit) –
is familiar and dear to me,
as it is to many . .
i *loved* presenting this
message to students
(through Orwell) . .
i believe that it’s
particularly relevant to teenagers
for various reasons,
but certainly it’s relevant
for all of us . .
moreover, its relevance
only continues to grow
(given the interwebs and all)

moreover, when blown out
to its most all encompassing,
and boiled down to its most essential,
it’s a message that only gets
more obviously relevant
and more vital . .
for the message becomes:
reject falsehood and seek truth . .
it becomes:
focus on what’s of lasting importance . .
it becomes:
when you see the truth, tell others . .

of course, this message
of Stewart and Orwell
is timeless . .
it’s as easy to
assent to as it is to
not always follow,
for various reasons . .
it’s a message that
underlies the entire
endeavor of being human

so i suppose it’s no surprise
that the Bible –
that diverse ancient collection
of stories, poetry,
history, prophecy, correspondence,
song and sermonizing –
has this same message
underlying its core

but i submit
that in the case of the Bible,
it has this message in
a unique way . .
this message of
seeking and proclaiming
what is important and true,
it’s not just an assumption
that the Bible makes . .
not just a
given superstructure
as it often is . .
something easy to gloss over,
forget, ignore or
(as with bullshit)
subvert . .

it’s the Bible’s
actual main message in itself

so much so,
that if what we call
the New Testament
is to be trusted
(and i think it is),
God was so concerned to
communicate this message,
that He walked among us,
saying things like:
“You have heard it said, but I say to you…”
“Those who have ears to hear, let them hear…”
“I am the way, the truth and the life…”

God wanted to us to
see through obscurity
and distraction
and falsehood
to important truth worthy of
passing on
so badly,
that he rended
the obscuring, distracting
fabric of reality
and daily life to actually
show us truth embodied . .
to become the word of God,
the truth of God in human form . .

and then,
if what we call
the New Testament
is to be trusted
(and i think it is),
He said, “Tell others
what you’ve seen here…”

in short:
Stewart and Orwell are prophets . .
and like the Bible
and its prophets,
like Jesus himself,
these prophets yell:
“Wake up! Look around!
Find the truth and when you do,
bring others with you!”

i can imagine no truer,
more vital or relevant
or important message . .
i can think of no other
call that i’d more
love to answer faithfully . .
and i am thankful for it
and for those who
present it so skillfully . .

and, in particular, of course,
i’m most thankful for
the only one able to
make the call to
journey toward truth,
the call to point others toward truth,
and then also point to Himself
as the destination . .

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Matt Hill has contributed to hollywoodjesus for the past decade, taking on movies, music, books, games and other topics. He writes from Michigan, where he lives with his wife and kids. Visit facebook.com/sundayiam for free music from his sweet, super-secret Christian rock band.

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