Saitama TV tower, image by ebiebi2, permission: public domain.
I was thinking today about the value of PBS, CBC, BBC and other public television channels in bolstering innovation on television and bringing in programs of greater artistic value, including the great British comedies that BBC is known for, the laboratory of creative, quality journalism that CBC has become, and the great lifestyle and documentary programs that have been so influential throughout the world that PBS has created. There is exactly one downside to these stations: they are paid for with taxpayer money, meaning that people had no choice about whether to support them, making them the product of an illicit activity, state theft. What if such a station could be established by a large, worldwide body of people voluntarily?
Throughout time one of the greatest achievements of the church has been in preserving, inspiring and encouraging mans great intellectual and artistic endeavors. Whether it was preserving science, writing and philosophy during the Dark Ages in the monasteries of Europe, commissioning the great works of Michelangelo in the early Renascence, producing the Gutenburg Bible in the 1500's and thus bringing literacy to Europe, or bringing purpose and resolve to young Charles Darwins life in the 1800's, Christianity has always been at the forefront of the human quest for knowledge, understanding and enrichment both intellectually and spiritually. And they have also backed the ideas and spiritual development thus earned with conviction and the desire to make the evils found right, as in the case of a young, talented, baptist preacher from Montgomery, Alabama named Martin Luther King Junior. And in the bible, we see a very profound call from God himself to inspire and teach humanity:
"You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?" (Jonah 4: 10-11, NIV) The reason God sent Jonah, in the final examination, was not to control and brainwash and extract Hail Mary's, but to educate.
A really effective worldwide public television, as supposed to this regional sort, may reach the masses and teach them, educationally, poetically and spiritually, to not only embrace God and all his wonders, but think, and let their minds be ruled by truth and love. While we all understand the need to provide for mans material needs, and the church has fought valiantly for such, a man who is enriched mentally and spiritually can also provide for his own material needs, an educated man finds purpose, work ethic and direction, and maybe churches across the world should consider this as a portion of their mission, refilling the lamps of all of Gods virgins. Best of all, when the churches provide for it, preferably as a separate fund donated to by individuals outside of normal collections to prevent competition with other missions (we all know people put basically the same amount in the collection plate regardless of what their church is doing - 'Prayerbot reporting for duty!'), it is a voluntary donation, not one extracted, like PBS, CBC and BBC, from people without their consent.
Now it is true that a very minor Evangelical christian public television station does exist, called TBN (Trinity Broadcasting Network), in the United States. However, it is totally governed by Evangelical Christians, and as a result has just a little too much "praise the lord and pass the collection plate" about it. In addition, on the rare occasions that it does do more artistic, film type programs, they tend to be sterile and preachy, another aspect of Evangelical Christians. Likewise, there would be problems if only Catholics, or only Lutherans contributed to this network as well, but when all threads weave together to form a sturdy rope, a truly balanced TV station can be formed. While evangelism should not be forgotten by this station, it should be balanced with art, with science, with news and with theological debate, and even some cutting edge comedy and tragedy of a unique, artistically valuable form, to provide a much more balanced intellectual and spiritual growth, for while the Bible is powerful and valuable, it is only one book, and there is far more to God and to all His creation then a single text could ever cover.
It also gives Christianity a great new tool for evangelism, as such an organization could boost the signal from towers on friendly land, so that it would penetrate any nation, no matter how much that nation engages in censorship, and spread the word of God and the truth to all of mankind, outside of arrogant governments insistence on controlling speech! Not only could the word of God be spread, but politically disliked news commentary, science, arts, and anything else that a government might choose to suppress or censor, would be broadcasted from sea to shining sea, and there would be no way to stop us short of the violence that shows these governments to be what they are. Now all we need is a really cheap television transmitter!
For regardless of what religious text, if any, you accept, God, whoever and whatever He is, regardless of what you say, created a world of freedom, where birds have their own claws and humans have their own families and land, and the forces of physics are consistent and exploitable 99.9% of the time, and governments that oppress their people eventually fall by the devices of their own cruelty, from the Roman Empires slave economy destroying itself, to the cruelty of the human sacrificing Aztecs bringing the wrath of all the neighboring peoples to destroy their great city. Included is even Ancient Isreals barbarism, human sacrifice and oppression weakening it to make it prey for neighboring states and the Medieval Catholic churches simony and oppression losing it its lands in Central Italy, and finally the oppression of Adam and his clothes and so called "knowledge of good and evil" bringing death and tragedy in to the world. "The wages of sin are death," (Romans 6: 23a, NIV) and it would seem thus that oppression is a sin punished by the grapes of wrath sown in to Gods people and the power entrusted in the mob. Thankfully for us sinners, "but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6: 23b, NIV)
Yes, free and peaceful (and peace is a kind of freedom) states are wealthy, prosperous, and strong, and the states that brought freedom and peace to some degree received much of the earth and much happiness and peace as reward in their time, from the United States of America in the 20th century to the early Roman Republic with its beginnings of federal democracy, from Persia with its first constitutional controls to the protestants with their freedom of knowledge, speech and assembly and the industrial revolution that accompanied them. From the Vikings with their respect for women and proper ways of resolving disputes to the Chinese with their consistent philosophy and relative freedom of speech. Freedom is never perfect, but even the good in the imperfect is not forgotten by God, so let freedom ring!