In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s pretty easy to get overwhelmed. We are in a strange season: Russia, Healthcare, Special Investigating, Trump Mania are in a screaming Opera of Hatred. Cable TV, the Internet, dinner parties (dinner parties!) are amped up to the point where you can just shut down. Coping with work, kids, spouse—whatever else there is, your mission is often now in overload mode. This may be the Era of Being Overwhelmed—especially in politics. The response to all this overload is to feel threatened by it, and so anger is our default mode.

We can fight the sense of powerlessness and join the Ranting Class—or we can opt out and binge, game, or eat cool stuff. It’s a classic “fight or flight” paradigm. Phrases like “being woke” (and outraged), or numbing out in your “safe space,” are now more normal than extreme. 

Even in calmer moments, I take flight from most scales (blood pressure, BMI, reading the Right Novel), so I get that we can only deal with what we can handle. A shortstop cannot dig out a hot smash in the hole for a putout if he pauses to think about the reason he plays baseball.

At the same time, I find empowerment in a good fight. However, when I listen to “Morning Joe” and cringe at the self-righteous ranting amid the hard news, I feel both annoyed and exhausted. In truth I am incapable of tuning out.

Even when we are at the end of this earthly rope, it’s often very hard to find God in this mess. It’s just easier for most of us to leave God out of it and go with what gets us through our freakouts. If you have a family, or are in a more devotional career, you may have noticed that those alternative universes can been an “Off” switch to the Sturm Und Drang of the World.

When it comes to the Toggle Switches of Right/Left, Good/Bad, Saved/Condemned, the easiest thing to do is to flick rather than listen. And there are millions more switches than ever. We are dumb if we do not flick to “On” or “Off.”

We either fight or flee.

The “fight or flight” impulse enables survival. However, in this tech-fueled culture, “fighting” can become a black hole of flaming, snarking douchebaggery that takes what you care about and screams back, “LAME!” It becomes so insane that several intimates I love just throw puppy pictures at Instagram to stay in touch and have let all other portals go dark. Now there are more “flight” opportunities. A few thousand channels and streaming services, billions of websites, trillions of supposed humans to interact with… All available 24/7.

But fleeing in the midst of a country that is fighting also misses the point.

The problem is that after a couple of years at Cultural Volume 11, I think the drama abets the growing desire to ignore the presence of God in our lives. It’s easier to trash what you are not a part of, or distract yourself in front of a screen. In Fight or Flight mode, it’s hard to see the larger truth of Faith.

When it comes to God I have no choice—there can be no Flight. Just as I cannot get fast and I will never be thin, I cannot pretend to be alone. God is there. He cannot be proven to anyone—especially to the smart ones on cable TV—and the humorless grind of trying to prove a point Fights the best in us and takes full Flight away from Jesus himself.

No matter how many American Pickers episodes I binge, I am still there when the TV is turned off. We cannot escape this ranting, screaming Freak Show of perpetual umbrage by gaming ourselves to sleep—because we always wake up. And yet, we all have a personal Existential Threat—which is not losing Healthcare, because even with it, I have an Expiration Date.

Importantly, for me, the volume and hysteria of the next cry of “COLLUSION!” simply does not separate me from the peace that passes all understanding—no matter how distracted I am. Rachel Maddow might have found another web of Russian Oligarchs that had dealings with an operative somewhere, but that’s not where I am—even when I listen to her wide-eyed joy at finding Evil.

No matter what these days foment, the place we are has a better dance than Fight or Flight. For me it’s the hug of faith I feel whenever the volume abates. It’s louder now—but the balm of unmerited love is even nicer in the din. Hunger is the best sauce.