Sunday, March 01, 2020

Lord Technology, Lord Politics and Lord Entertainment: How Are They Doing?

This must be one of Lord Technology's friends.

(First Sunday of Lent (A): This homily was given on March 1, 2020 at St. Pius X Church, Westerly, R.I., by Fr. Raymond Suriani.  Read Genesis 2:7-9; 3:1-7; Psalm 51:3-17; Romans 5:12-19; Matthew 4: 1-11.)

[For the audio version of this homily, click here: First Sunday of Lent 2020]

How are they doing?

I wondered about that recently.

How are they doing?

Who are “they,” you ask? 

“They” are the three gods of the late 20th century that I introduced you to on the first Sunday of Lent way back in 1998—22 years ago.

I heard they’re still around.  In fact, I know they are.  Here’s how I described them in ‘98.

God number one is known as “Lord Technology.”  Lord Technology is a peculiar-looking fellow.  He has a head like a computer monitor and a body like a laboratory test tube.  His arms and legs are shaped like nuclear missiles, and laser beams shoot out from his fingertips.  But he’s very smart.  He understands the most complex theories of mathematics and science.  And he’s always promising us that the solution to all of our personal and social problems will come with the next great scientific discovery.  The only problem with Lord Technology is that he doesn’t seem to understand the concepts of right and wrong.  If you make an attempt to speak to him about “moral laws” and “commandments,” bells will immediately go off, his circuits will overload, smoke will come out of his ears and he’ll say, “Error, error.  This does not compute!”

So much for Lord Technology.  The next god of this modern pantheon is “Lord Politics.”  Lord Politics, I must admit, is a very classy dresser.  He could easily make the cover of GQ magazine.  In fact, the only negatives to his appearance are his eyes—his shifty, beady, little eyes.  But you hardly notice his eyes once he opens his mouth.  That’s because Lord Politics has quite a way with words!  He could sell you one acre of swampland in Florida for a million dollars and you would think you were getting a great deal!  The only problem with him is that he seems to have a one-track mind.  Everything to him is politics.  If you ask him, “What’s the most important thing in life?” he’ll answer “Politics.”  If you ask him, “How can we solve all our personal and social problems?” he’ll say, “Politics.”  He’s convinced that the only reason people do anything is for a political motive. 

Finally, we come to god number three: the one and the only “Lord Entertainment.”  Now, it’s hard to describe this god with any consistency, because he’s always changing.  He has no convictions.  He’s not at all interested in promoting what’s true.  His only concern is to amuse people.  Consequently, to achieve this end, he sometimes dresses in a three-piece suit like Lord Politics.  However, at other times, he dresses like Bozo the Clown.  And then, every once in a while, he strips down to his “birthday suit” and wears “nothing, nothing, nothing at all.”  You see, if it will get a laugh—if it will sell tickets to a movie—if it will get high Nielsen ratings—Lord Entertainment will do it, or say it, or sing it.  He’s been spotted quite often at our local casinos, but he’s also to be found on radio and on television.  He’s even in some art museums.  He’s wherever people use vulgarity and immorality to entertain.  And in today’s world, that means this god really gets around!

Now why do I re-introduce you to these three deities this morning?  Simple—these are the very same “gods” that Jesus battled in today’s gospel scene from Matthew 4.  That may not be immediately obvious to us, but it’s true nonetheless.  These are the false gods that Satan was desperately trying to get our Lord to worship.

Which means they were around long before 1998! 

First, Lord Technology. Satan says to Jesus, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to turn into bread.”  Now there’s a technological accomplishment if there ever was one—making bread out of rocks!  (Believe me, the people at Wonder Bread would love to get their hands on a machine that could pull that off!)  Jesus answered, “Scripture has it, ‘Not on bread alone is man to live, but on every utterance that comes from the mouth of God.’”  Jesus was reminding the devil that God’s moral law must be primary in all human activity.  And so Jesus would say that ‘technology plus morality’ is good; technology, used in conformity with the laws of God, is a great blessing.  But, our Lord would add, technology without morality is dangerous and destructive.  And isn’t this what we’ve seen so often in the late 20th and early 21st centuries?  The abortion pill; artificial contraceptives; chemical weapons; illegal, synthetic drugs; pornography on the internet—all the result of the misuse of technology; all the result of people falling down to worship this false god. 

So how is this god doing today?  Well, I’m sad to report that he’s doing better than ever!  The number of deaths from the drug Fentanyl and the number of babies killed by Planned Parenthood every year—those two statistics alone make it abundantly clear that Lord Technology is alive and well in the modern world.

Satan then shows Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and says to him, “I will give you all this power and the glory of these kingdoms; the power has been given to me and I give it to whomever I wish.  Prostrate yourself before me, and it shall all be yours.”  That was the temptation to worship Lord Politics.  Satan knew that Jesus had come to this earth out of love for the human race.  He knew that Jesus wanted not only to save the world from sin (which was his primary mission); he knew that our Lord also wanted to make the world a better place for people to live in.  And so Satan says to him, in effect, “Jesus, let me tell you how to do it: the answer is politics.  Forget that conversion and repentance stuff; don’t bother telling people they need to give their hearts to God the Father—the solutions are all political.  Get in power, change government structures, institute a few nice programs, and you’ll make the world a much better place for those little earthlings you say you love so much.” 

Jesus did not fall for the lie—but many people in our modern society have!  They think politics is the answer to everything!

Although I will say this: This is the only one of these three false gods who has probably lost some of his power in recent years.  Or at the very least his image has been badly tarnished.  I say that because many people have been disappointed—let down, big time—by their political leaders in the last three decades.  And that’s made some of them angry and even cynical—which is another problem in itself.

Finally, Satan takes Jesus to the very top of the Temple in Jerusalem, and he says, “If you are the son of God, throw yourself down from here.”  That was the temptation to worship Lord Entertainment.  In essence, Satan was saying, “Jesus, give them a show.  You want these people to listen to you—then jump!  For heaven’s sake, JUMP!  Everyone will see it.  The angels will catch you, just like it says in Psalm 91.  Then you’ll get a standing ovation.  You’ll be a hero!  You’ll get an interview with Sean Hannity or Chris Matthews—or both!”  Jesus answered, “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.”  Jesus would not pervert God’s truth for the sake of a few minutes of applause.  But that happens all the time in our society, doesn’t it? 

And it’s not just people like Bill Maher and the cast of “The View”—who openly attack the things of God.  What’s even more disturbing to me (and what I think sends a horrible message to young people) is when those in politics or the entertainment industry engage in immoral activity and are then rewarded with their own TV or radio show!  Eliot Spitzer, for example, who resigned in disgrace as Governor of New York in 2008 in the midst of a terrible prostitution scandal, eventually got his own news program on CNN!  Charlie Sheen, who was fired from one television show for bad behavior, was rewarded with the starring role in another.

Which leads me to wonder, what great opportunities will be coming Harvey Weinstein’s way in the near future? 

So how are Lord Technology, Lord Politics and Lord Entertainment doing these days?  Unfortunately, for the most part, pretty well.  That’s the bad news.

But the good news is that Jesus Christ resisted and overcame their temptations 2,000 years ago, and so can we today—if we rely on his help and know his truth!

Notice that Jesus overcame Satan’s three temptations by quoting Scripture to him.  He knew the truth of God’s Word, and he used that truth as a weapon to defeat these three enemies.  If we want to win that same victory in our lives, then we need to follow Jesus’ example.