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Watching TV Religiously

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I'm just wondering, in the spirit of debate, if the golden age of drama television is really a second coming -- or perhaps a third and our holy water is in the cooler.

Now I have to say that I'm writing under the influence of the finale of True Detective, whose finale reverberations are still causing a series of mini earthquake aftershocks deep within my soul, as if its script came from a place way atop the mount, and here I am about to suggest that is where it very well may have come from.

True Detective, to this viewer, made us all true detectives in that after every harrowing episode, we had to investigate the mystery our own souls, that matrix of booby trapped obstacles and trick questions which is guarded by an armada of lies believed and stories plagiarized that somehow manages to define our most holy of convictions.

In other words: It made us feel and think, and most of all, challenge.

Okay, I am going to throw down all the cards and go for the outrageous suggestion of this little essay:

Television is the new church, synagogue and mosque, and our writers are the new priests and rabbis and clerics with the most powerful sermons to offer.

I think that life has turned so dark and broken and secular, and, at times, frightening, that it has forced us to try to find a place where we can become, as a group, contemplative and spiritual.

I read the other day that 42 percent of all millennials polled said they do not believe in God. I would go on to say that they do not believe in a lot of things that were, and perhaps still are, holy to many of us. Even their humor doesn't seem to have a sense of humor.

Just for the record, I consider myself an inspired spiritual agnostic who believes rather fervently in all possibilities because, as Al Einstein once said, [paraphrased] the only thing that is guaranteed in this lifetime is mystery. So in my mind, I cannot disprove the existence of God any more than you can prove it. It's all too intangible and way too mired in ancient fairy tales.

But something is out there. Energy perhaps. A living organism that is the universe? I'll let Alma and Neil deGrasse Tyson figure all that out.

But cable TV, church/synagogue/mosque, to this viewer has become the one place where millions of us can flock to in order to figure out this ongoing battle between light and dark.

And to me, it's not coincidental that the best night of TV is on Sunday.

Amen to that.

Lost, Breaking Bad, True Detective, House of Cards, Game of Thrones, Newsroom are just a few of the houses of television faith that are open for business and filling up their electronic pews with the masses.

And, P.S. This is a very, very, very good thing.

The truth is, we spend most of our lives staring at our phones to get our messages and then we go home to our laptops and our tablets to get our distraction and entertainment.

What we don't do anymore is read for pleasure, for wisdom. We no longer commune with authors, those wonderful word whisperers, like J. D. Sallinger who brought us the likes of Holden Caulfield and the transparent Glass family.

We have literally strangled our imagination to death, and it has been replaced by an unstoppable Tsunami of information. It is data for data's sake. Little of it makes us reflective or wise or soulful. It just fills us up fast, just like McDonald's.

We are disengaged. Separate. Alone. Empty until we are full again.

And we don't go en mass to mass.

But we do go to TV, and TV is now the place to get ourselves some old time religion.

TV drama is now about the investigation of our faith and morality. We are all Don Draper, Walter White, Rust Chole, Marty Hart and Frank Underwood.

It is a place where both heaven and hell exist for our viewing pleasure, offering up vivid tales of good versus evil. Sometimes corruption and darkness wins. Sometimes heroes become anti-heroes. Sometimes finales just plain suck.

But most importantly cable TV is making us think. The nightly new does not do that. Anchors today are just grim reporters who almost offer up today's details like they are reciting the menu of possibilities at a mortuary. You want a lid with that?

God and Satan are alive and well and living on HBO, Showtime and FX.

For people like me who suddenly realized that he has become trapped and hopeless, who has found, to his horror, that he is in a deep, ongoing, personal relationship with my personal devices -- there is a new outlet: a new place to plug in, to commune and re-consider and listen to well told fables and sermons that not only inspire me, but most importantly, they make me turn inwards and, once again, take a plunge and float down the endless stream of my consciousness and imagination.

Cable TV is making me think again. Care again. Feel love again. Feel the power of my morality and mortality. It is reminding me of stories that were preached to me long ago. And once again, instead of staring at my tablet, phone and laptop screens, I am looking up.

With curiosity and wonder.