Gods and Cable Channels
Goldie watched with interest as Feeder Man walked into the room and passed by her fish tank. She always watched Feeder Man with interest, since she was incapable of telling, on any given occasion when he would enter, whether or not he intended to drop more flakes into the water for her...
Goldie saw him now, sitting down on a large sofa and picking up a tiny, black, rectangular object. Suddenly, a light went on across the room. From behind a glass screen, a man’s face showed. When he spoke, Goldie realized why Feeder Man had come into the room this time: the hour had come for the daily prayer.
Goldie faced the television and bowed her head downward in Its presence. Then she repeated an old incantation in her head:
“Oh Wise One who speaketh from beyond Feeder Man’s Glass,
“Who doth honor lowly creatures with Thine presence,
“Oh One to whom Feeder Man goeth for advice and counsel,
“To Thee I raise my offering and prayer...”
She sank to the bottom of the tank and dug her fins under the gravel. Then she shoveled the tiny pebbles forward so as to bring them before the television—a petty offering, to be sure, but the gravel was all she had.
“I pray Thee to guide Feeder Man safely to the food cylinder, that he may give me my daily flakes...”
So far, the prayer seemed to be working; Feeder Man was paying close attention to the TV set. Though he brought no offerings before the Box, his relationship with the television was just as ritualistic as hers. He would come to It at an appointed time each day to bask in Its glow and listen to Its teachings. Since he could not communicate to It orally, he used the black object in his right hand to summon It and pray. And the Almighty Box would listen to his prayers, changing Its volume and appearance when Feeder Man requested such things. Indeed, at times it appeared that Feeder Man was controlling Its every action. Despite this, though, there was no confusion at all (at least in Goldie’s mind) as to who was the master and who was the servant in this relationship. The Box was all-knowing; It could tell Feeder Man of events happening anywhere in the world. The Box could convince Feeder Man to do certain things and buy certain products. The Box could be both light and darkness, and It could make Feeder Man happy, sad, or angry at any given moment. Surely the Box deserved to be respected and honored, and so Goldie respected and honored It accordingly.
Finally, the television turned off, and Feeder Man stood up and walked toward Goldie’s tank. As he made his way over to her, Goldie’s heart leaped with a new hope...
But then Feeder Man walked right by her again and out of the room; he did not even seem to pay attention to her. For a second, Goldie wanted to shout in rage to the Box for being so cruel and not hearing her prayer... Then she took a deep breath of water and reminded herself not to question Its will. If she wanted food, she knew, she would have to have faith in Its wisdom.
“Truly,” she thought, looking at the dark screen in front of her, “Thou workest in mysterious ways...”