Watching the 11 o’clock news can be amusing, especially on occasions when it is almost as if the broadcasters are up past their bedtimes. Some nights are filled with silly slip ups from the reporters, playing clips that belong to a different news story, losing live feeds, and other nights the content leaves me wondering if it was a “slow news day” when there seem to be no stories of consequence.
As I was passively listening to the local evening news on Monday night (You know what I mean by that, right? The television was on but I wasn’t fully tuned in.) These words came through loud and clear:
“As you are aware, Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Lenten Fish Fry season.”
[Cue a teaser for a future story featuring local food establishments offering this feature.]
Wait, what? REALLY? I know MANY people enjoy a good fish fry. I’m not bashing that, honestly I’m not. What drew my attention and really struck me hard was how this sentence used fish fry as the defining feature of Lent and Ash Wednesday.
Walt Mueller of the Center for Parent Youth Understanding says of media that it is both “a map and a mirror. It both instructs us on how to live our lives and reflects back to us the choices we’ve made as a culture. Map and mirror. Directive and reflective.”
We’ve got to be honest with ourselves and discerning about the ways media acts as a map, providing us with direction and guidance on how we live our lives. Conversely we have to be honest and discerning about the ways media acts as a mirror, reflecting back to us who we are and how we’ve presented ourselves to the world.
There is nothing intrinsically wrong with Ash Wednesday marking “the beginning of the Lenten Fish Fry season.” Yet, if we aren’t intentional, we can be drawn into following this map, staying content to have an ankle deep view of the purpose of the Lent rather than diving into the fullness of this season. Equally important is the call to look at ourselves as the church and evaluate if we have exemplified this as the primary image for culture to reflect back as the face of Lent.
How about for you? As today marks the beginning of Lent, what map are you following and what are you reflecting for others to see? Lent is a time of preparation and reflection as we approach Easter, an opportunity for a deeply personal experience in our faith journey, and (as every day is) a chance to share with the world around us the depth of the love of God for us.
Map and mirror.
I’d be interested in hearing from you whether it is about your reflections on the idea of map and mirror, your daily practices during Lent, or how God is speaking to you today. Leave a comment, send me an email… this topic really has me thinking and I’d like to explore it with you all some more!