Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Trouble With Talk

I was on talk radio today -- the Drew Mariani Show on Relevant Radio. It's not the first time that I've done talk radio, but it is the first time that I've had to take calls and it's quite difficult. You see, you get people calling in and some of them seem to be advice junkies -- people who have read all of the books and articles and could probably tell you more than you could tell them, but who haven't found what they're looking for so they keep searching -- and then you get people who are genuinely hurt and confused and want you to say something that will help them...and you're on talk radio, so you have to do this before the next ad break. In this case, it was a man whose wife had left him for a lesbian relationship and he sounded so vulnerable that my heart broke (cheesy phrase -- I avoid cheesy phrases because I am jaded and post-modern, so if I use them it means I'm breaking down and giving in to sentiment. i.e. I have had an emotion, and I am admitting it in public...very dangerous.) In any case, parenthetical asides aside, I didn't know what to say. It's not that I don't have anything to say, it's that I don't have anything to say that makes good radio -- because any real answer would have involved asking all sorts of questions that are intensely personal, questions that you couldn't possibly ask on the air in front of listeners. Not to mention the fact that a good answer would take hours, probably spread out over several days/weeks.
Obviously not possible; as Marshal McLuhan tells us, "the medium is the message." Talk radio is fast, it's supposed to be controversial and engaging (no bonus points for me here -- I'll never make a good right-wing pundit, though perhaps with some work I could make a decent radio guest). So the question is, how do you give a fast, engaging, controversial answer that will actually do the caller some good?
I don't know. I'll mull it over in my mind, and perhaps I'll come up with something -- if not an answer that would work on talk radio, at least one short and sweet enough to function in the blogsphere.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Something Left to Save

I've been away this week -- I was down in Alabama shooting an interview with EWTN for The Abundant Life. An unexpected fringe benefit of the trip was a better understanding of the culture war. From a Generation Y Canadian perspective, it always looks like the culture warriors are something akin to a mother who continues trying to breast-feed her dead infant. It's like, unless Christ appears and tells the Culture of Death to get out of bed and walk, it's best to just bury it. But then you get to Alabama, and you're in the airport, and people are dressed in real clothing, and having real conversations, and the security guards are making jokes about officiousness and you think, "My God, there is still culture here. Civil society. Something worth fighting for and saving." That's when all of those angry right-wing pundits on talk radio start to sound sane. And then you wonder what you're supposed to say to that audience, because my entire perspective on the culture wars comes from a Canadian triage mentality. It's a different place to be, and I think that it could be seen as being defeatist or fatalistic, but I don't think that's true. It's a different kind of hope that we need to have here, sitting in cosmopolitan Toronto -- the decadent world city perched on the frontiers of the wilderness. It's the kind of hope that must of sustained Our Lady after Christ was put into tomb, the sort of grim, "Okay, it's over now, but we go on believing anyways," resignation. Not a hopeless resignation, but a submission to the facts combined with that strange thrill, the feeling that somewhere, in secret, beneath the corpse of the present culture the Holy Spirit is moving through the dark earth breathing life into hidden seeds.