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Of course, the endlessly interpretable vision of Revelation also looks like the world at many other times in history. There is a kind of vanity in Apocalyptic thinking: people eternally want to believe they are so special, their times so afflicted, that their tribulations outclass any others in history. It is oddly boastful to believe that one's generation has screwed up the world badly enough to prompt the birth of the Antichrist. Ghost stories like Medium too appeal to our egotism. They assume that the dead are concerned above all with giving closure to the living.
But that's what TV has in common with religion: each helps millions of people, sitting down to hear the same message, individually feel special. And the networks' revived spiritualism will probably continue next season: one NBC drama in development, for instance, is about a character who has regular conversations with Jesus. It is ironic, perhaps, that TV should discover this after an election cycle in which Hollywood was tarred as a bastion of humanists hostile to religion. We can argue all the way to 2008 about the spiritual values of TV. But for now, it certainly values spirits. •