William Oddie in the British Catholic Herald writes:

“This week I received through the post the summer newsletter of an organization I had not previously heard of, engagingly called CUT, which stands for Catholics Unplug your Televisions. This immediately put me in mind of a Finnish religious sect which was operational around 30 years ago (I think it no longer exists, presumably because its active members all ended up in jail) who believed that television had come between man and God, by obsessing people to the extent that they could think of nothing else, and certainly not religion: it had despiritualized them. So they used to break into people’s houses, not to steal anything (they were very strict about that) but just to destroy the television set. So you would come down in the morning to a perfectly tidy house (if you had left it that way) except for the wreckage of your TV set.

“That’s not quite what CUT is on about. The Finnish cult dates from the early days of television, when people, everyone it seemed, really was entirely and obsessively engrossed by the black and white pictures flickering away on their tiny TVs. CUT is opposed to what actually is to be seen on the television, not the very existence of the thing itself. St Padre Pio, they point out, described the TV as Satan’s Tabernacle. Also (I like this one) St Elizabeth Seton (early 19th century) is said to have had a prophetic vision of the 20th century in which she saw a black box from which Satan would enter people’s homes. That is precisely CUT’s contention: its rather splendid logo shows St Michael the archangel in his classic winged warlike posture, standing with his foot on a prostrate Satan into whom he is about to plunge his spear: the difference is that Satan is shown emerging from a very modern looking (possibly even HD) flat-screen television set.

“And how, I wonder, does CUT know about the programs it has a go at in its newsletter and on its website if it doesn’t watch them?

“That’s the trouble: in the middle of any war, including the culture wars the church is continually engaged in, you have to know what the enemy is up to. If you simply switch off, they can do anything, unchallenged.”

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