20 September 2007

dare i tackle this?

Responsibility. Do we really want it? Do we handle it well?
I could go several directions with this but here's what I'm thinking about:
What do we really do about the things that we place before our eyes and into our heads through movies, books, television, theater, etc.?
I took a class in college that talked about how God redeems everything and that we need to watch things through that lens (yes, this is a very poor paraphrase).
I'm not sure that helps me.
although I don't watch much television intentionally, I could. I'm really drawn to movies and television. I didn't own a tv for several years because I didn't want to be sucked in to that "world."
But what about the things we do watch or read or...
How much do they impact our soul and spirit?
How much are they really shaping who we are and who we want to be?

I remember several years ago in my Alias-obsessed days that I was rather excited to have my sister, her husband, and my nephew in town from Seattle. They joined me at my friend's house to watch Alias. And then as the episode played out I was horrified to see the violence and sex that we were watching together. My brother in law does not see the importance of Jesus as Lord in his life and THIS is what I'm heralding as good to watch?

What do we do with this?
Do we ignore that some of our favorite movies and television programs use deplorable, God dishonoring language, that sex is treated so lightly, that violence is sometimes exalted, that family relationships are mocked, etc, etc, etc?

I'm not asking because I have this one worked out. I'm really on the journey of trying to understand how to live as a Christ follower in this media crazed world.
Any ideas, reflections, questions, or suggestions out there?


Karla said...

I was just watching The Shield (a show about cops and their dealings with society and their struggle with good/evil. For instance, do you help a drug dealer with his "business" if he is willing to give you ongoing information? What about helping a pimp who is allowing the abuse of his prostitutes?) with Keith last night. The last season finally came out on DVD, so it has been months since I last saw the show. Not only was it crude, violent, and vulgar, but it was depressing as well. I mentioned that to Keith, who said, "Yup, that is real life." So, if we are to stay in tune with what non-christians are watching and if we are to stay in tune with life outside our christian bubble, is there some kind of rule that looks like, "You can watch Alias and the Shield, but you can't enjoy it! You can only watch those shows if you are committed to finding truth in the midst of all the dirt and scum...."? I'll stop.

Karla said...

and also...
what do you do with the stuff in the bible, like tamar getting raped and david killing bathsheba's boy so he could have her....
or is that ok because we can see how God redeemed the situation? i don't know.
maybe i sound defensive because i don't want to have to stop watching Jack Bauer on 24... :)

Dan said...

We haven't had a television hookup for about 18 months, and it's been the best thing for our family. We're not so prudish as to avoid all entertainment - we do netflix, we go out to movies. But one thing I've noticed is how much I put up with when it was all around, and how horrified I am now when I happen to watch tv with somebody else. I think it is true that your conscious becomes seared, and you stop noticing just how demeaning and debasing television actually is.

For me, the real problem comes in when violence, sex, and the rest are used as entertainment. I can watch a WW2 documentary that is extremely violent, but it is shedding commentary on the world in which we live. I can watch a nature program that has naked natives, and it can be good because I'm learning something about this world. But if I'm watching people being slaughtered so that the CSI stars can solve the crime and save the day - now it is using and abusing people in the name of plot line. And that simply degrades us all.

Gracie said...

Well here's something, la, I like tv. that's the scary part for me. I am de-sensitized. How does that get redeemed and worked out?

And, then I wonder am I staying in tune with non-Christians? Do I really talk to my neighbors about tv and movies? Do those entertainment choices really keep me up on what's going on in the world or am I able to see that just driving or walking around?
I don't know that I'm at the place of giving it all up. But I am wondering what it's doing to me because it's part of my life.

It seems like the choices are to:
-change nothing
-completely disconnect
-somewhere in between

I'm voting for the somewhere in between, but I'm still not sure what that looks like.

Gracie said...

Dan, I applaud your choices and am glad that is working for your family.

I'm wondering as you're reflecting about how you "are horrified" when you occasionally do see tv, how do you guard against becoming judgmental, or self-righteous?

Dan said...

It seems to me that it so often comes to this (and I'm not accusing you of doing the same thing, btw) - whenever a person makes a discipleship-based approach (i.e., as part of my walk in Christ I need to cleanse my life of this or that habit), it is seen by others as "judgmental." When I tell people we don't watch television, a lot of them become defensive, feeling the need to defend themselves, simply because I've made the choice for me and my family.

As to keeping myself from becoming judgmental or self-righteous, I have learned to approach things from a discipleship-oriented viewpoint, rather than a legalism viewpoint. We're all on the journey toward Christ, and we're all working on various foibles as we go along. For me, television was damaging my relationship with Christ, as well as my relationship with my family. I was not a better person for watching television. So we cut it out. But I'm in no place to stand in judgment over others - that's the work of the Spirit. In general, I will say that I think television does more harm than good; I will teach and preach that we need to be really careful about what we allow into our lives; I make it abundantly clear just how little I respect the entertainment industry, but I'll never look at you and say "you sinner! You watch 24! You're evil!" Instead, I'll simply ask "where's God at work in your life?"

Mark Baker's book "Religious No More" was very helpful, if you ever need a book to read.