We must be persistent persuaders! |
Michael Cain, editor
As I begin to write this commentary the coin toss for Super Bowl XXXV has just concluded and, with it, we will be bombarded by advertisers who are willing to pay up to 2.2 million dollars a spot to convince us their product is worthy of our attention, and, more importantly, that we'll put forth hard earned cash to contribute to the cause of capitalism. It's called the ad game and they play it well.
I remember, when studying advertising umpteen years ago in college, the words "the medium is the message." It was spoken so sagely by, I believe, the Canadian Catholic philosopher Marshal McLuhan. It was also during this time that I read Vance Packard's excellent treatise "The Hidden Persuaders". Another professor I worked with in my early days of the ad business was Jack Haberstroh, who wrote "Ice Cube Sex: The Truth About Subliminal Advertising" published at Notre Dame in 1994. In these two books one can see so clearly the modus operandi used to convince others, and, in retrospect, how deftly satan has been able to penetrate hearts and souls through our culture and society.
I think about this as I watch the huge crowd at Raymond James Stadium who have forked over a thousand dollars on the average to be a spectator at this event in Tampa. Yet millions are at this same event through the modern technology of television with the best seat in the house and it doesn't cost us a cent? Or does it?
We've heard for decades about those phantom Neilsen families who determine what fare we watch because advertisers - those Madison and Michigan Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard big wigs - think that a select few determine the will of the masses. No one ever admits meeting a Neilsen family until now. I don't know if anyone has ever come out and admitted it, but we will. Now it can be told! Yes, the Cain family was a Nielsen family for a week and we took advantage of it to give a boost to programming that elevated and was dignified. Unfortunately, on the networks that type of fare could not be found save for "Touched by an Angel" - even if it was a repeat. So on our logs the Neilsen Researchers will find programs like "Web of Faith," "The World Over," "Life is Worth Living," "G.K. Chesterton - The Apostle of Common Sense," "Defending Life," "The Scriptural Rosary," "The Daily Mass from Our Lady of the Holy Angels Chapel," "Mother Angelica Live" and, well, you get the picture. We hope they do.
In fact, since we got a dish in order to receive EWTN's signal, we've watched very little else. Oh, there's an occasional show or sporting event that we'll tune into. I'm still an ESPN fan, but not a fanatic. And then there's the cable news networks like CNN, MSNBC. Ah, on second thought, forget those. Talk about slanted! However, in fairness to one cable news network which we discovered shortly before the elections and found their motto right on - "Fair and Balanced," FoxNews is exceptional and we reflected that in our Neilsen records as well. One of our favorites is Sean Hannity the conservative, Right commentator who goes head to head with a true liberal air-head each night in Alan Colmes, the left side of "Hannity & Colmes." It is a program we now watch each night immediately after Mother Angelica's show. Hannity comes from staunch Irish Catholic stock and, unlike other Catholic commentators or personalities who are "closet Catholics," Sean is not afraid to speak his principles and proclaim his faith when accosted by a barrage of progressive pro-aborts from Patricia Ireland of NOW to Diane Feinstein to Al Sharpton and the rest of the radical left, who Colmes feebly tries to defend. Though it is only surface, at least you truly do get both sides and FoxNews has never tried to control the news or slant to the left as ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN do constantly. One wouldn't think a division owned by Rupert Murdoch and the same company that put out "Temptation Island," would produce something of substance, but FoxNews is indeed a burst of fresh air in a roomful of stale networks and news departments. Another at FoxNews, Bill O'Reilly of the "O'Reilly Factor" is also Catholic and tries to espouse the principles of Justice and Peace as the Holy Father calls for, but, unfortunately he has become a little too full of himself lately and has waffled on taking a strong stance for Pro Life. As we have said so many times: if you are truly Catholic, you must be committed!
I'm sure there are plenty who would like to literally commit Catholics, do anything they can to shut us up! Pat Ludwa touches on this today in his excellent VIEW FROM THE PEW column. He shows how they try to confuse and divide Catholics and therein we must stand strong. In fact, the whole concept of the Neilsens and the plethora of polls that everyone is conducting - from Gallup to the local news stations and even on the internet - prompted me to realize that if people are persuaded by polls, then Pro Life Catholics need to begin to do the persuading.
How do we do that? One way is to participate in polls when it deals with a Pro Life issue or any moral issue. When it's a phone poll, call often. Put it on speed dial. If it's a web vote, vote as many times as you can as long as you don't have to submit your e-mail. If they ask you to only vote once, then do so. If they don't, then there are no limits. Usually they want you to vote often because it adds to their numbers. It's the nature of the business. A local TV poll asked: "Do you agree with President Bush's decision to stop overseas funding for abortions?" We called in 33 times and the Yes vote won 53% to 48%. What if we hadn't called? It's likely the Yes vote would have gone down to defeat.
It's all about the mindset of the masses. The fact that this "insignificant" TV poll showed more people agreed with Bush's decision, some are going to rethink and say, well, maybe it is a good thing. Maybe he did do the right thing. You'd be surprised how many don't think for themselves but allow themselves to be led around like sheep. It is these sheep we can reach little by little and slowly guide them to the Good Shepherd. The more we participate, the more we influence. The more who are influenced, the more their hearts will change for the better. Early in the primaries when President George W. Bush was asked if he would overturn Roe vs. Wade because he was so strongly Pro Life, he replied that America's heart needs to change first. He wasn't dodging the question or hedging his bet, he meant it. It is true. We can see that if he is going to carry out the Pro Life initiatives we hope and pray for, it won't be by ramrodding legislation through. The pro-aborts are too smart for that. They will put up a formidable force and filibuster. We've already seen this with the grilling they're putting former Senator John Ashcroft through. No, we need to win their hearts before they'll change minds. The crusted die-hards may never change their manifestos, but the vast array of American citizens are good people whose hearts are ripe for conversion.
EWTN aired an interview with Alan Keyes Friday night in which the staunch Catholic Republican told the host of "The World Over" moderator Raymond Arroyo that you cannot force people to believe, "conversions are never made by force...that would be a contradiction of faith." As Jesus has said and His Blessed Mother has repeated so many times at Medjugorje and elsewhere, and, as His Holiness Pope John Paul II has preached: faith (belief) will move mountains, it will move hearts with a lot of help from our prayers, fasting and obedience to His Holy Church and frequent reception of the Sacraments. As Keyes pointed out, this country was founded on the respect for the liberties of life that God has given us. "Our faith should motivate us and cement our affirmations." Don't you think that deep down the majority of America agrees with this? They just have to be coaxed and persuaded. It won't take as much as you think. Remember, if they can be moved by polls, if ad agencies can dictate what you watch and channel billions of dollars from so-called demographics that supposedly represent you, then isn't it only fair and right that you have a say? You can if only you will!
Right now the time is ripe. Half the country is already won over. Presently the left is a ship without a rudder, scuttling about for a skipper with their two self-appointed "messiahs" Bill Clinton and Jesse Jackson reeling and rotting in the sins of the flesh. The liberals won't be long without a captain, they have to have one to survive. And that's what they are struggling with right now, fighting amongst themselves and now is the time to attack; not with vitrolic or hate, but, as we said in these pages last week, with love, and a firmness of purpose. We can do this so subliminally by our actions and prayers. We can do this if we are motivated for, as Cardinal Bernard Law has said, "we must defend the essence of life from moment of conception to the moment of natural death and every moment in between, then we will be successful." He also commented to Arroyo that there is a "palpable spirit of optimism" that is beginning to soar through this nation. Now is the time for all good men and women to come to the aid of their country and their God. Now is the time to strike while the fires of the Holy Spirit are burning bright. Alan Keyes calls us to be prayerfully persistent. We call for prayer warriors everywhere to mobilize and move mountains! Yes, we can do it. For the sake of souls, in a subliminal and spiritual way, we must be persistent persuaders!
For past editorials, see CATHOLIC PewPOINT Archives
January 29, 2001
volume 12, no. 29
CATHOLIC PewPOINT commentary