Archive for January, 2014

Television, The Great Life-Waster

Sunday, January 26th, 2014

An admonition for all of us from John Piper’s Don’t Waste Your Life (2003):

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.

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 emotions shrivels….

We have lost our ability to see and savour the complexities of truth and the depths of simplicity. Douglas Groothuis explains the connection between this weakness and television: The triumph of the televised image over the word contributes to the depthlessness of postmodern sensibilities….One cannot muse over a television program the way one ponders a character in William Shakespeare or C.S. Lewis, or a Blaise Pascal parable, or a line from a T.S. Eliot poem, such as ‘But our lot crawls between dry ribs / to keep its metaphysics warm.’ No one on television could utter such a line seriously. It would be “bad television” — too abstract, too poetic, too deep, just not entertaining….[Not only that] but the images appear and disappear and reappear without a proper rational context. An attempt at a sobering news story about slavery in Sudan is followed by a lively advertisement for Disneyland, followed by an appeal to purchase panty hose that will make any woman irresistible, etc., ad nauseum.

Therefore the man who stands before God with his well-kept avoidance ethic and his protest that he did not spend too much time at the office but came home and watched TV with his family will probably not escape the indictment that he wasted his life. Jesus rebuked his disciples with words that easily apply to this man: “Even sinners work hard, avoid gross sin, watch TV at night, and do fun stuff on the weekend. What more are you doing than others?” (see Luke 6:32-34; Matthew 5:47).

Unexpected Challenges

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

by Kristin

I never knew when I first had children just how much they would challenge my skill and wit as a philosopher.

Patrick especially seems to be gifted in testing the limits.

At the breakfast table….

Me: “I need to go shopping today.”

Patrick:  “Can me and Patrick go with you?”

Me: ? ? ? ?

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Another day in the boys’ bedroom…

Patrick: “I want the nightlight on.”

Ryan: “But it’s daytime.”

Patrick: “No, it’s nighttime.”

Ryan: “No, look out the window.” *Holds up Patrick to window* “See? The sun is shining. It’s daytime.”

Patrick: “No, it’s not. It’s nighttime.”

*Long pause*

Patrick: *With a laugh* “Oh, it’s daytime.”

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And today, Justin posed this question at breakfast…

Justin: “Mommy, can I have hemlock milk on my granola?”

Me: *amused smile* “It’s called hemp milk. Hemlock milk would be poison.”

Justin: “Oh, okay. Can I have hemplock milk?”

Keep trying, Socrates.