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A Liturgy Before Consuming Media
from Every Moment Holy
(copyright 2017 by Douglas McKelvey)
O Discerning Spirit who alone judges all things rightly,
now be present in my mind and active in my imagination
as I prepare to engage with the claims and questions of my culture,
incarnated in the stories that people tell.
Let me experience mediums of art and expression,
neither as a passive consumer nor as an entertainment glutton,
but rather as one who through such works would more fully and compassionately
enter this ongoing human conversation of mystery and meaning,
wonder and beauty, good and evil, sorrow and joy, fear and love.
All truth is your truth, O Lord, and all beauty is your beauty.
Therefore use human expressions of celebration and longing
as catalysts to draw my mind towards ever deeper insight,
my imagination into new and wondering awe,
and my heartbeat into closer rhythm with your own.
Shape my vision by your fixed precepts, and
tutor me, Holy Spirit, that I might learn
to discern the difference between those stories that are whole,
echoing the greater narrative of your redemption,
and those that are bent or broken,
failing to trace accurately the patterns of your eternal thoughts
and so failing to name rightly the true condition of humanity and of all creation.
Grant me wisdom to divide rightly; to separate form from content,
craft from narrative, and meaning from emotion.
Bless me with the great discernment to be able to celebrate the stamp
of your divine image revealed in an excellence of craft and artistry
even while grieving a paucity of meaning and hope in the same work.
Guard my mind against the old enticement to believe a lie simply
because it is beautifully told. Let me not be careless.
Give me right conviction to judge my own motives in that which I approve,
teaching me to be always mindful of that which I consume,
and thoughtful of the ways in which I consume it.
Impart to me keener knowledge of the limits of my own heart
in light of my own particular brokenness,
that I might choose what would be for my flourishing and not for my harm.
And give me the grace to understand that what causes me to stumble
might bear no ill consequence for another of your children,
so that while I am to care for my brothers and sisters,
I must also allow them, in matters of conscience, the freedom to sometimes choose
a thing your Spirit convicts me to refrain from.
Even so, let my own freedoms in Christ never be flaunted or exercised in such a way
as to give cause for confusion, temptation, or stumbling in others.
May the stories I partake of, and the ways in which I engage with them
make me in the end a more empathetic Christ-bearer, more compassionate,
more aware of my own brokenness and need for grace,
better able to understand the hopes and fears and failings of my fellow humans
so that I might more authentically live and learn and love among them
unto the end that all of our many stories might somehow
be more beautifully woven into your own greater story.
So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. —Romans 14:22
Pete Peterson is the author of the Revolutionary War adventure The Fiddler’s Gun and its sequel Fiddler’s Green. Among the many strange things he’s been in life are the following: U.S Marine air traffic controller, television editor, art teacher and boatwright at the Florida Sheriffs Boys Ranch, and progenitor of the mysterious Budge-Nuzzard. He lives in Nashville with his wife, Jennifer, where he's the Executive Director of the Rabbit Room and Managing Editor of Rabbit Room Press.