Seriously, though—on Ash Wednesday, God spoke through Instagram.
The reel was of a young man learning metalwork at a forge. A curl of iron glowed orange between his tongs, and the caption accompanying the short video blew my mind.
Before I tell you what it said, let me clarify: this was not a Catholic or even religious post. This—unless it was evangelization in deep cover and the joke’s on me—was a purely casual, secular, “check this out, I’m at the forge and it’s cool” post.
So, without further ado, the caption (woefully reduced and paraphrased here) read, “Iron is purified by fire."
On Ash Wednesday, the day when we begin a time of penance so that our hearts can be purified for God.
My jaw dropped. And that wasn’t even the first time this young man posted this way. The guy can find something profound in a Christmas Pikachu mug. (You heard me.)
It can be easy to overlook holy moments in secular media and entertainment, but God is Almighty, and it’s more than possible for Him to share Himself there. Job was a Gentile, not an Israelite, but his story wound up being God’s inspired word. Balaam was a pagan hired to curse God’s children, but instead, because of God’s movements, he spoke a blessing on them. Secular entertainment isn't of the One True Church, but that doesn't mean God can't use it or ever be present in it.
Now, please don’t get me wrong. Is Catholic media pivotal, invaluable, and irreplaceable? Absolutely. Is there a lot of unholiness at the front and center of secular media? Without a doubt.
But at the same time, why do we love the Avengers? Because it’s true that human life is worth fighting for as hard as they do. Why has Harry Potter affected so many hearts? Because love and sacrifice overcoming death and destruction is the ultimate goodness. Why has BLACKPINK enamored so many fans worldwide? (Here's my favorite song, "Shut Down," by the way.) Because their music and visual creativity are beautiful. And all truth, goodness, and beauty, no matter the source, are always from and of God.
Of course, these aren’t necessarily perfect. I would love for BLACKPINK (and all of their “Blink” fans too!) to remember that their dignity and worth have nothing to do with how they look, dress, dance, or sing—they are gorgeous and priceless for the sheer fact that they are God’s daughters. Meanwhile, Divination and Charms classes are hardly the way to know the Father of the Universe, Who also happens to be the Father of every Harry Potter fan. And I have a severe issue with any embodied AI that refers to itself with the words “I AM.” (Seriously, Age of Ultron?)
But God was willing to spare Sodom for the sake of ten righteous people, and even when there were fewer than that, He saved them nonetheless. I think we can take the same approach to secular media. Most of it will not be golden. (Although, later, I’ll make a list of a few that do make that cut.) But it might have some golden moments, which are from God, and He can share His heart with us through them. And that make them worth saving.
The question is how to pull secular media like that out from the stuff that does little except harm. That takes discernment and resources—which I’ll discuss in an article in the near future.
To be continued…