The Crystal Set: Part One

I received my crystal set (“Foxhole”) radio kit this morning. Like a child on Christmas morning I ripped away the packaging and found these things:

I want to concentrate today on the crimson circular thingummy at top right: the antenna (wire).

A crystal set has no power source of its own. What you hear through the earpiece is powered by the received radio signal itself, which is tiny to start with! This is only possible because the human ear can hear such faint sounds, though many animals have much stronger auditory sense than we do. Alas, they can’t build crystal receivers!

The antenna wire must be strung outside in a straight line to maximise the picking up of signal above the background noise. Modern life fills the aether with electromagnetic noise: computers, phones, plasma TVs, fridges, microwaves etc. Sufficiently far from the house, such noise is attenuated, and the wire instead picks up mainly signals from distant transmitters of spoken words. Such isolation from noise is why radio enthusiasts indulge their hobby in shacks, or radio-hermitages if you like.

The longer the wire, the stronger the signal power is received, and the louder the sound in the earphone. This is the golden rule. It is easier to reel out a long wire on your own land in the countryside than it is for for a city flat dweller to do so. That’s life.

Long wires attract lightning strikes! Don’t use one during a thunderstorm, or you might find yourself lethally frazzled.

OK, here is the weak spiritual analogy payload you have all come to expect from me:

Every human being who was, is, or ever shall be is a receiver of important information (signal) from afar and above. This is God calling to us, calling us home. Sanctifying Grace is a communication to the human race carried by various signals. Their quality of reception depends on many factors such as size of the antenna and background noise. If we are concerned for this communication, we must invest in improving our antenna (Prayer) and reducing the noise (Detachment). Prayer is time more spent listening to God than broadcasting at Him. St Benedict’s rule starts with the word “LISTEN”. Detachment must be loving to be healthy and life-giving. If hateful, it leads to madness and murder.

There is no point in any of this activity if we don’t also invest time. The best communications commonly arrive at the most antisocial of hours. Radio signals are strongest at night. So are Prayers.

Here is Peter Gabriel singing “Here comes the flood”, which mentions radio signals, is a bit apocalyptic and ends with the line “Drink up dreamers, you’re running dry”. I love it.


About Brother Burrito

A sinner who hopes in God's Mercy, and who cannot stop smiling since realizing that Christ IS the Way , the Truth and the Life. Alleluia!
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3 Responses to The Crystal Set: Part One

  1. johnhenrycn says:

    Very nice, Brrr. His raspy voice reminds me of this swell Newman song sung by Nilsson (RIP):

    God bless ©


  2. johnhenrycn says:

    …and here’s the mystical LP album cover from 1969 when I first heard it and loved it:


  3. GC says:

    Bravo, Brother B. To continue with your analogy, all you need is the basic spiritual equipment that we all have naturally without paying a penny, and the long “antenna” that God gave us – infinitely long as it’s God-given – in order to hear the “still small voice”, the one Elijah heard, sort of like on a spiritual crystal set – full stop!

    And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave.

    Part 2, Brother B?


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