I had a procedure at the dentist the other day, all to the background music being piped into the operatory through some unseen surround sound speakers. I feel confident that neither the dentist nor the hygienist fully noticed it was on, though, of course, all would notice its sudden absence. Silence is almost intolerably uncomfortable in modern public spaces.
A dentist's chair is a good place to do some thinking or praying. But the carefully calculated work of the audio architects and mood designers makes it hard to impossible to follow that inclination. You find yourself in the passive position (me, quite literally) of taking in an unwanted thought bilge of worldly philosophy. And unless you make a muscular effort to regurgitate it from your soul forthwith, it just sits in there somewhere. No one knows the effect of this onslaught day after day-in the supermarket, the restaurant, the department store, the car dealership, the funeral parlor showroom, and, most famously, the elevator.
As you can see, I have moved from thinking this modern cultural reality innocuous to thinking it pernicious. I see the fingerprints of Satan all over it. The Enemy of our souls is as content to use the subtle approach as the techniques of direct terrorism; it's all the same to him, if he may, by any means, save some from salvation. (You will recognize the anti-gospel here.)
But as Christ said, whatever doesn't gather with him scatters, however gently and with a smiley face. A teenager plugged into an iPod walking down the street, or incessantly texting banalities, is perfect campaigning weather for keeping him from the knowledge of that thin crust below his feet that Jonathan Edwards warned about in his sermon on sinners in the hands of an angry God.