Friday, May 15, 2009

Television, the Great Life Waster

TV has been on my heart lately, and I plan to post in-depth about it at some point. Maybe when the kids are teens and I have time? For now, read one of the most powerful quotes about TV I've ever digested... And if you need some conviction in your life, pick up Piper's Don't Waste Your Life!

Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper

Oh, how many lives are wasted by people who believe that the Christian life means simply avoiding badness and providing for the family. So there is no adultery, no stealing, no killing, no embezzlement, no fraud-just lots of hard work during the day, and lots of TV and PG-13 videos in the evening (during quality family time), and lots of fun stuff on the weekend-woven around church (mostly). This is life for millions of people. Wasted life. We were created for more, far more.

There is an old saying: "No man ever lamented on his dying bed, ‘I wish I had spent more time at the office.'" The point being made is usually that when you are about to die, money suddenly looks like what it really is, useless for lasting happiness, while relationships become precious. It's true. When my mother was killed in 1974, I wrote to the chairman of my department at Bethel College, where I was teaching, and reversed my request to teach an overload the next semester to make more money. Standing beside your mother's grave with a wife and child makes things look different. Money loses its pull.

But that saying about spending less time at the office can be misleading. We need to add this: No one will ever want to say to the Lord of the universe five minutes after death, I spent every night playing games and watching clean TV with my family because I loved them so much. I think the Lord will say, "That did not make me look like a treasure in your town. You should have done something besides provide for yourself and your family. And TV, as you should have known, was not a good way to nurture your family or your own soul."

Television is one of the greatest life-wasters of the modern age. And, of course, the Internet is running to catch up, and may have caught up. You can be more selective on the Internet, but you can also select worse things with only the Judge of the universe watching. TV still reigns as the great life-waster. The main problem with TV is not how much smut is available, though that is a problem. Just the ads are enough to sow fertile seeds of greed and lust, no matter what program you're watching. The greater problem is banality. A mind fed daily on TV diminishes. Your mind was made to know and love God. Its facility for this great calling is ruined by excessive TV. The content is so trivial and so shallow that the capacity of the mind to think worthy thoughts withers, and the capacity of the heart to feel deep emotions shrivels. Neil Postman shows why:

What is happening in America is that television is transforming all serious public business into junk. . . . Television disdains exposition, which is serious, sequential, rational, and complex. It offers instead a mode of discourse in which everything is accessible, simplistic, concrete, and above all, entertaining. As a result, America is the world's first culture in jeopardy of amusing itself to death.

I've had TV messages up on my facebook profile today and it seems to sting people. I think if we're honest with ourselves, we have created many more gods in our lives than we would like to admit. Yet, we veg in front of them and worship relax each night.

True, I don't have TV fed into my home (even basic). But I have TV seasons on DVD, movies to watch, and I let Olivia watch one of her DVDs almost everyday. I didn't post this quote out of a better-than-thou attitude-- my heart aches over the situation of many American Christian families today, and my own sinfulness by wasting my time.


Mandy said...

I am so with you, Sheila. Over the past few years I have grown to literally HATE television. Since Joe and I have been married, we have not had television in our house. (People give us strange looks when we say that. "We have a TV, but we don't have TV," we'd try to explain). We did what you do, though. We have a series or two on DVD that we'd watch at dinner each night. We'd say it was our way to "unwind." But really, I've been feeling like it has created distance between us because I feel like we don't talk as much. Between DVDs and Joe's video games, and both of us being online, I feel like we've been wasting a lot of time and maybe falling "out of touch" with each other to a degree, if that makes sense.

I can't tell you how angry I was to find out that when we moved to our new home, we had no choice but to get internet through Charter, and that meant we had to get basic cable. (Can you believe it's cheaper to get basic cable & internet together than to just get internet by itself?!?) I was upstairs when the installer got it working and they turned on the TV... groaning to myself when the sound of commercials drifted from the living room upstairs. *gag*

Anonymous said...

For me, tv is not an issue. But the net has a draw. We are planning to use the library when we move in order to keep the net out of our home.