Note from Jim Wallis: On October 25, Troy Jackson wrote this piece for God’s Politics. He called for a “media fast” on November 2 — today. I thought this was a compelling idea so I am putting it out there again. So Turn Down the Noise: Fast, Pray, and Vote — today or one of the days before the election. Read and heed.
I was a teenager when the rock and roll "documentary" Spinal Tap premiered. Like many in my generation, I love the scene when Spinal Tap member Nigel Tufnel (Christopher Guest) proudly shares with reporter documentarian Marty DiBergi (Rob Reiner) that the band's special amp has dials that go up to eleven:
"You're on ten here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you're on ten on your guitar. Where can you go from there? ... Nowhere. Exactly. What we do is, if we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do?" Marty responds, "Put it up to eleven," and Nigel emphasizes the point: "Eleven. Exactly. One louder."
This election season, I have come to believe that Nigel was on to something. You see, here in Ohio we have seen political advertising go "one louder" and receive "that extra push over the cliff." The NOISE is so deafening, I'm convinced the campaigns and super PACs have discovered a way to turn the dial all the way up to 11!
This election, thanks to new rules that allow those with resources to give unlimited amounts to their political agendas, campaigns and Super Pacs have spent more than $115 million in the state of Ohio. Over the next 10 days, that number will grow at an even faster rate. Most of these ads are negative, toxic, and some even seek to dehumanize Gov. Mitt Romney, President Barack Obama, or one of the dozens of state and local candidates seeking public office.
These ads — and the political spin that accompanies them — do not uplift or inspire. Instead they take us much farther away from being the people God has created and called us to be.
This barrage of negative advertising, coupled with propaganda masquerading as news, is taking its toll. The political discourse has gone over the cliff here in Ohio, and the resulting NOISE makes it much harder to truly listen to God and to one another.
In response, clergy and people of faith in the state of Ohio are calling for a one-day media fast on Friday, Nov. 2. We are challenging people to turn off their televisions, radios, and Twitter feeds so we can turn toward one another and pursue listening to the voice of God. This simple campaign, which we are calling Turn Down the Noise: Fast. Pray. Vote, provides a pathway to take seriously our civic opportunity to engage politically, and to do so based on the depths of our faith traditions and values rather than whatever $115 million has to say.
In Romans, Paul writes, "Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is; God's good, pleasing and perfect will." (Romans 12:2)
On Nov. 2, we want to detox from the patterns of this world, and instead renew and transform our minds and hearts through prayers and conversations.
Whether you are in Ohio, or are inspired to join this movement wherever you are this election season, we invite you to join this campaign by going HERE. As we approach Election Day, let's Turn the Noise and Turn to God!
Troy Jackson is senior pastor of University Christian Church in Cincinnati, a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, and earned his PhD in United States history from the University of Kentucky. He is author of Becoming King: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Making of a National Leader (Civil Rights and the Struggle for Black Equality in the Twentieth Century) and a participant in Sojourners' Windchangers grassroots organizing project in Ohio. Learn more about organizing around Ohio jobs.
Photo: Yelling, Dmitriy Shironosov / Shutterstock.com