As Tears Go By

What would happen if George Costanza was the relevance guy at Why then a search for major celebrations during December would likely place Festivus at the very top of the results page and Christmas might not place at all. Now this could be simply because the calendar editor placed the birth of Jesus in August and ignored the tradition of celebrating it in December.

Suppose someone posted an article on the Life of Jesus. The relevance rankings would determine your ability to find it using a search service. These rankings are conditioned by the search algorithms, some group’s doctrine concerning reliable sources and of course the quality of the subject article. The essay may not even be indexed depending on the editor’s attitude towards religion or the editorial policies of the search service provider. 

A large thesaurus could contain tens of thousands of synonyms and hundreds of thousands of cross references. And, while one would think the content of an article would itself be the primary relevance factor; naming, tagging and formatting also affect placement in search results to varying degrees. It very much depends on the person authoring, packaging, and submitting the article. 

Jesus touched on this with the question: “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

In the days before its Declaration of Independence in what is now the United States, Edmond Burke wrote a Report to King George. He described the colonist’s ability to recognize an ill principle in this way. “Here they anticipate the evil and judge the pressure of the evil by the badness of the principle. They honor misgovernment from a distance and snuff out the approach of tyranny in every tainted breeze.” 

Clearly the “tainted breeze” in our day, and throughout our world, is that of the special interest that would eclipse or discount the interests of average citizens. It was the unmitigated selfishness of those living high while demanding increased revenue that brought the global economy to the edge of oblivion in 1929 and 2008. Such individuals should not be seen as somehow more respectable than the person robbing a convenience store; also in the interest of “increased revenue.” In the first case, the revenue supported the pampered executive’s featherbedding, and in the latter case, it was likely used for the most basic elements of survival.

Throughout history, and during our present time, information is power. One of Martin Luther’s greatest challenges was a priesthood insistent on playing the Judeo-Christian scriptures close to the vest. Slaves, in the early United States even found it necessary to hide their bibles. Freedom of the press has always been limited to the guy that owned the press. And today, the question of net-neutrality will be pivotal to future societal evolution.

The Internet will either be free and unfettered, the self-interested will determine what information is conveniently presented to you in accordance with their priorities. Implicit to the consent of the governed is informed consent. Tampering with factual accounts has serious democracy implications. So does the ability to get a handle on information free of someone’s dollar skew. 

We must learn to see beyond individual or institutional attitudes, beyond vestings and bias factors. To the content spewing and trolling broadcaster, if it bleeds it leads. To the next-gen fisher of men, engaged in precisely directed, full duplex narrowcasting, we are inclined to fine tune our offerings. The consumer of information relevant to the Gospel has lots of choices. And consumers of all types are becoming increasingly annoyed by irrelevant stuff that clutters their screens; distractions that are thrown in their faces just when they are trying to focus on the subject at hand.

The avenues of spiritual, intellectual and practical reality merge into the narrow road. That road leads to a door that can only be unlocked with sincerity. And such sincerity is the product of faith that is tempered through experience. It is the Master Key to the Kingdom. 

Where wisdom is clearly lacking; where humility lessons are everywhere, there is new opportunity for those willing to bring a historical perspective and learn from history. It is important to keep the kind of perspective that will support services rendered on behalf of those Jesus called “the least of my brethren.” We are often surprised to discover that so much of what we know today was known by our ancestors. Their grasp of rudimentary chemistry and physics, the taming of fire and the industrial technique of early man suggest a science of sorts. It would appear that a substantial investment was made in pooling the experience of more than one generation. We can draw from an even greater experience, for Our Father in Heaven is the First Source of all Reality.

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