Sunday, March 27, 2016

Might be helpful if God started a podcast today

At the risk of stating the obvious, it's funny how my mind works. I was listening recently to a cable news station when they played portions of two new political ads. The messages were predictable, but what caught my attention was what I heard playing in the background.

Both used generic bits of music -- quiet, yet expansive, slightly and lightly melancholy -- that triggered something in my thoughts and, after a moment, had me thinking about a film I'd once seen.

I couldn't remember any details -- name of the film, plot line, time and place. I did recall, in a blurry fashion, the male lead, but couldn't put a name with the face. The more it all lingered and swirled about, I was pretty certain that the film was centered in the 1950s, either produced then or evocative of that simpler time.

This all played out in a few minutes, morphing from a vague notion filled with bland street scenes to my muddled mind latching onto an actor who seemed to be puzzled about some sort of existential issue.

For whatever reason -- I have no real idea how my thoughts play out -- an image of God popped up in my mind and it seemed to be that the film, whatever it was, touched on the cosmic and divine in some fashion.

And so it was, still in my pjs and bathrobe and munching my breakfast cereal, I began googling films about the 1950s and God. After tossing aside blockbusters like "Ben Hur" and "The Ten Commandments", both produced in the late '50s, I added "small town USA" to my search.


The actor stored away in my memory bank tuned out to be James Whitmore and the film, released in 1950, was "The Next Voice You'll Hear". BTW, it's worth mentioning that Whitmore's wife in the film was played by Nancy Davis, the woman who would marry Ronald Reagan two years later and eventually become the "First Lady"!

The movie details the impact on a small community when, for no apparent reason, God begins broadcasting messages over the radio. The voice of God is never actually heard, while the film focuses on the reaction -- confusion, disbelief, fear and faith -- the words have on the local citizenry.

The film was produced only five years after the end of World War II. Harry Truman was president, the Korean War was just beginning and the Cold War was just heating up. Relations with China were stretched to the breaking point and Russia, just a few months earlier, had tested its first atomic bomb.


This dark and jarring mix of woes had folks on the home front feeling a little skittish and filmmakers in Hollywood looking for a way to calm nerves while offering up a bit of hope with a tasty bag of cheesy bromides.

Given the sad state of the world today -- terrorist attacks across Europe and a weak economy that has yet to right itself completely following a global recession nearly a decade ago, a presidential election that has all the gravitas, at least on the conservative side, of a SNL skit and at least one scary candidate who seems to be a bizarre mix of Hitler, Mussolini and Bozo the Clown -- and I'm thinking it might be nice and helpful if God decided to make a sudden appearance across the World Wide Web!

"The Next Voice You'll Hear" ended on an ambiguous note while offering up a message of hope and unity -- essentially we're all in this together and everything is going to be okay if we pull together.

Sadly, I'm not at all certain if an entire pantheon of gods could right our woes today. As one notable blowhard with an awful comb over might say, "It's simply too yuuuuuuge of a job!"

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