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The Hyperization of America


By Dennis Pollock

People of my age (and older) are in a position to be able to perceive the changes in America of which younger people have no idea. Things have changed in America a whole lot since my days as a child in elementary school in the days when Dwight Eisenhower and John Kennedy led our nation, and when gum-chewing, note-passing, and talking in class were the common problems with which teachers were forced to contend.

In this study I want to look at one particular aspect of the enormous change which has transformed our nation in the years which elapsed between when I first learned how to read and the day when I became eligible for Medicare. I want to discuss the hyperization of America and the world.

It is not difficult to see, if you care to look, that our society, our entertainment, and our habits have become louder, coarser, faster, and more colorful than in those ancient days when we played LP records on our record players, marveled at our transistor radios, and watched television on small black and white sets which sat proudly on portable stands with wheels. It has happened gradually, so gradually that even we old guys and gals hardly notice it if it is not called to our attention. But once we think about it we realize just how much and how quickly we in the U. S. have been transformed from a relatively quiet, gentle people who lived simply and were happy to do so, into a frenetic, loud, over-the-top, in-your-face, always-in-a-hurry, people who would nearly go crazy if we had to lead the quiet, gentle, slow-paced lives that our ancestors lived for thousands of years.


We see this trend unmistakably in our music. Of course we have had fast-paced music since the roaring 20’s, but never has it come anywhere near what it is today, with constant doses of mega-bass, lyrics that attempt to outdo all the others in edgy-ness, and eye-dazzliing special effects. And while the music plays, a massive electronic screen accompanies it, with constantly changing video clips and flashes of color, explosions, bursts of smoke, and pyrotechnics coming from every part of the stage. The singer will never simply stand still and sing like Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra in a previous era – today’s singers are dancing all over the stage, waving their arms, and moving themselves in such jerky motions that you wonder how they could possibly stay in tune (apart from lip-syncing).

The idea of young people listening to fast, loud music is not new. They were doing this in the 1950’s with the newly minted rock and roll. But in those days such music was strictly for the youth. Their parents wanted nothing to do with it. They would listen to the crooners and enjoy instrumental bands, but the World War II generation had almost nothing to do with Rock and Roll. Today, those young people are now in their sixties, and they have never lost their savor of fast paced music. Many adults have playlists which feature rock bands of the past as well as contemporary groups of the present.

Movies, too, reflect this direction. In every theater, massive speakers are installed which can play sound effects and music which threaten to rupture the eardrums. Action movies, which are the most popular movies of all, feature one exciting, death-defying scene after another. Car chases, explosions, hanging from tall buildings, and of course there are the fights. I once witnessed a real fight when I was in school, and one thing I noticed is that in a real fight there are no huge, crunching sounds when one guy’s fist meets another guy’s jaw. The sound is actually quite unimpressive. But in the movies, every punch, every kick, every slam into a wall must be accompanied with the loudest possible noise to demonstrate that one guy has really unloaded on the other.

Often in the action movies there is little to no character development. The characters are too busy punching, kicking, driving fast, and making wisecracks for you to really get to know them. Meaningful conversations are sacrificed for the sake of action, noise, and quick clichés. In television, even the competition shows seem wound extra tight. Everything moves fast, and the hosts make every statement seem as though they were sports announcers describing a winning home run in the last inning of the last game in the World Series.

We see this evolution plainly when we compare modern commercials to those ancient TV ads from the 1950’s. In those days, singers sang catchy tunes or announcers with deep voices reminded you that you could see the USA in your Chevrolet or that nothing satisfies to the last drop like Sanka instant coffee. Today, commercials seek to outdo each other in crazy antics, risqué humor, and high-decibel voices.

Hyper World Hyper Kids

Loud, fast, colorful, glitzy… Our world today behaves as though it has drunk four strong cups of coffee in the last five minutes. Everything must be dramatic, loud, fast, and forceful: every word, every phrase, every intonation. Whatever our transgressions, we are determined never to be found guilty of being boring or quiet. Even if you have little interest in what we say, we will say it with such force and drama that you will have no choice but to listen.

Our children pay the price. In a world with ever increasing loudness, speed, and blasts of color, we have more children diagnosed with ADHD (hyperactivity) than ever before. Our hyperactive society has produced a generation of hyperactive kids who cannot focus on tasks for more than a couple of minutes, and for whom sitting still reading a book would be a form of torture.

God’s Recommended Lifestyle

Do the Scriptures support a hyper lifestyle? No, in fact they do not. On the contrary, God urges His people to lead quiet, peaceful lives, not loud, crazy ones. Paul writes:

Aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing (1 Thessalonians 4:11, 12).

This is not to suggest that the life of a Christian is to be a pacifistic, monkish life where you never do anything, never get into a conflict with anyone in your entire life, and sit around staring at candles, chanting peacefully while the world goes to hell all around you. Jesus got into some major conflicts with the religious leaders of His day, and Paul was stoned and beaten and faced hateful, angry mobs. Peter preached loudly and forcefully before thousands of Jews in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost, accusing them of crucifying the Messiah. His preaching was so intense and cutting that they cried out bitterly, “What shall we do?”

Moses boldly challenged Pharaoh, the most powerful man on the earth, and demanded freedom for the Hebrews. David was equally at home sitting on a hillside writing and singing songs to God or slinging a stone into the forehead of a giant with tremendous velocity, cutting off his head, and holding it up for all to see. Isaiah blasted his countrymen for being “a people laden with iniquity, a brood of evildoers.” Clearly the people of God have never taken the idea of quiet living to such an extreme that they withdrew from their culture, withdrew from their society, and chanted hymns all day long. To serve God is to follow Him wherever He leads. To possess the mind of Christ is not only to love people but to hate cruelty, oppression, and injustice and actively work against it wherever you find it.

For William Wilberforce this meant laboring for twenty years to bring the slave trade in Britain to an end, which he successfully did. He was quite adept at using his gift of sarcasm to mock and expose the hypocrisy of the politicians who fabricated one excuse after another as to why freedom for the slaves wasn’t appropriate at the current time. Hundreds of thousands of evangelical American Christian men put on army uniforms, picked up rifles and fought against Germany and Japan to bring down the monstrous ruling regimes in those nations during World War II. They prayed, read their Bibles when they found a little time – and shot and killed their enemies as they were able.

A Quiet Spirit

No, the quietness God recommends is not so much a withdrawal from activity, but rather a quietness of spirit. Jesus tells us, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” and also, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” These are inner qualities of the spirit, not a lack of activity or a contemplative life which never actually does anything, helps no one, nor gets upset about anything. We who follow Christ may find ourselves in certain conflicts from time to time. We may have to argue, we may have to oppose tyranny or cruelty, we may have to sometimes lift up our voices loudly and forcefully in our opposition of injustice, but it should never be done from an angry, intemperate, agitated spirit.

In the most popular of all the psalms David writes:

He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters (Psalm 23:2)

Though our bodies may need to be very active, though our lives may be busy, though our schedules may sometimes seem too full, still our spirits must be at rest – lying in green pastures and resting beside the still waters of the presence of God.

And frequently we need to quiet ourselves, bring our activities to a halt, and create a space in our busy schedules to have a restful time with our God. A term we sometimes use for this is a “quiet time.” No blaring music, no loud television, no one around us, no phone to answer or read our latest text. It’s just us – and God. We talk to Him and He talks to us. And we must not do this hurriedly, as though this is just one more scheduled event to rush through and get on to the next item of business. No, this is our time of spiritual rest. This is when our spiritual batteries are recharged, our priorities are realigned, and we are reminded once again of that which is truly important: knowing God and following Jesus. This is not an action movie with loud explosions, frantic car chases, and people shooting at each other. This is our time in the secret place of the Most High, under the Shadow of the Almighty.

It is true that we can and should pray anytime: in our cars, under our breath at the grocery store, and while enjoying an amusement park with our children. But that is not enough. The Bible tells us that “But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray” (Luke 5:16). As busy as the Savior was, as many people as were constantly requesting His time and attention, He still needed to get away to an isolated place at times and be refreshed.

Life in Christ

Here is where a calm, unhurried, peaceful spirit is developed and maintained. No, we cannot always live struggle-free, hassle-free, conflict-free lives, but we can and must keep our spirits in the place of peace and rest. And this is only possible through a relationship with Jesus Christ, who tells us, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls…” (Matthew 11:28-29).

Because Jesus is lowly in heart, we can find rest for our souls. Through His death on the cross He paid the debt we incurred by our sins. And by His resurrection from the dead He has made it possible for His mind, His Spirit, His meekness, His lowliness of heart to enter us and create an inner place of green pastures and still waters.

Let the storms rage, let the critics mock, let the tempter tempt, let the body age, let our prosperity ebb and flow, let our friends forsake us, let our spouse die before we do, let our finances be drained and our pleasant situation be taken from us. We will be at peace. Though our world grows more and more hyper, we will be at peace and at rest. How could it be otherwise, when the Prince of Peace, the Meek and Lowly One, lives inside of us?



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