Wednesday, July 1, 2009

TV, pain, & supernovas

A few more links I might as well share while I'm posting, because who knows when I'll get around to it otherwise:

"Why I Don't Have a Television and Rarely Go to Movies" by Pastor John Piper (just an excerpt - click the link for the full article)

What the eyes see really matters. “Everyone who looks at a woman to desire her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). Better to gouge your eye than go to hell (verse 29).

Brothers, that is serious. Really serious. Jesus is violent about this. What we do with our eyes can damn us. One reason is that it is virtually impossible to transition from being entertained by nudity to an act of “beholding the glory of the Lord.” But this means the entire Christian life is threatened by the deadening effects of sexual titillation.

All Christ-exalting transformation comes from “beholding the glory of Christ.” “Beholding the glory of the Lord, [we] are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18). Whatever dulls the eyes of our mind from seeing Christ powerfully and purely is destroying us. There is not one man in a thousand whose spiritual eyes are more readily moved by the beauty of Christ because he has just seen a bare breast with his buddies.

But leave sex aside (as if that were possible for fifteen minutes on TV). It’s the unremitting triviality that makes television so deadly. What we desperately need is help to enlarge our capacities to be moved by the immeasurable glories of Christ. Television takes us almost constantly in the opposite direction, lowering, shrinking, and deadening our capacities for worshiping Christ.

One more smaller concern with TV (besides its addictive tendencies, trivialization of life, and deadening effects): It takes time. I have so many things I want to accomplish in this one short life. Don’t waste your life is not a catchphrase for me; it’s a cliff I walk beside every day with trembling.

Warning: you may feel your spirit convicted. I wouldn't go so far as to eliminate TV totally from my life (would I?) but I do think this article raises very valid questions in which we should examine what we expose ourselves to, often on a daily basis. Even putting the Christian lens aside, shouldn't we be trying to always better ourselves, not wasting this precious time we've been given? Is "New York Goes to Work" doing anything for you? I doubt it. Granted we all have our guilty pleasures, personally a "Law and Order" marathon will make me seriously reconsider leaving the house. In the greater scheme if our exposure to music, movies, television, books, etc. is desensitizing us to our morals, our standards, and our purpose how do we distinguish the damaging from the entertaining?

For the most part I try to surround myself with positivity but I don't shy away from art that lays bare the selfishness, the evil, the pain of our world. A lot of disturbing works of arts - novels, paintings, song lyrics, movies - open our eyes and make us aware of the possibilities that lie in the world, positive and negative. I know people with no TVs, no cable, people who restrict themself to only non-fiction works, people who only listen to Christian music, people who only listen to Christian sermons -- is each one of them missing out on a certain beauty of the world? I believe that's a personal choice and you should do follow your convictions and instincts - which may be different based on your purpose and path.

In considering completely eliminating a form or more of popular media from your life, is there something to be said to being able to join in on a conversation about the latest movie or sitcom, even if it's "worldly?" In Corporate America where you rely wholly on your network and its connections, maybe you limit your opportunities by not being able to bond with coworkers or your boss by being that person who's clueless about pop culture. Maybe it doesn't matter. If you couldn't eat meat for religious reasons, would it matter that you're not ordering a steak during company dinners? Of course not. If you don't drink then you get yourself a Shirley Temple or a water at happy hours and keep it moving. On the other hand, if we consciously filter the TV programming, movies, and music that we're exposed to and we make conscious decisions to not "waste life" but rather use that time to relax or learn, perhaps they're not the damaging and desensitizing mediums Pastor Piper makes them seem.

G.D. at "Post Bourgie" explores in this post "Boy Pain, Girl Pain" the differences in how reactions to pain have been socialized based on respective cultures and genders. It's really an interesting thought and I think that similar reasoning can be applied to a wider range of our perceptions - what's hard for me may not be hard for you and vice versa. This appeals to the fact that we must always strive to understand and celebrate our differences: weaknesses and strengths. Just like you don't know anything about me I don't know where you were raised, if you were abused, if you have some sort of mental illness, what you are battling right this minute. Who am I to judge your perceptions? Needless to say the post (and the comments) is thought provoking. There is also a follow-up post that's good and further explores the topic.
And while there’s probably a lot of variance as to individual thresholds for those things, there’s a huge social component to certain perceptions and sensations. The ability to brush off the kind of agony you feel when you work out is a learned behavior, and often informed by things like gender and class and race in ways that we don’t always acknowledge. I tease my female friends that working out with them is always a drag because they’re crybabies.* (“It’s supposed to hurt!”) The arrogance/condescencion in that statement is twofold: it presumes not only that my friends can’t handle physical pain because they’re women but also that my very genderized notion of pain is the only way of understanding and experiencing it.

I mentioned an artist a few months back named Mr. Hudson. He has a (relatively) new song out with Kanye West called "Supernova" and it's fire. It reminds me of Moulin Rouge but a reloaded version. The video is also wild and features more than Kanye vocals over a cartoon (no shots to "Streetlights"...).

1 comment:

justinfication said...

"wasting life" .... this was a great read to start off my Monday.

I often wonder what the effects of "pop culture" is to me.

Often, I've been saying to myself.... "So Justin, you can watch a 30-minute sitcom (at least), but not commit time to God"...or "So you can listen to that secular song over and over...but not praise God for a minute?" or "So you can root for the Longhorns at a football game for 3 hours..but you'd be the first one ticked off if church was 3-hours. and unlike the Longhorns, Jesus NEVER loses"...etc.etc.

And as I've pursued to grow closer the God, the farther away from other things I have become. I'm questioning what I see and hear daily. Even one-liners in movies and tv shows (i.e. Transformers, and Family guy), I can't ignore them anymore.

Like your article suggests...if I'm not glorifying God, then what in the world am I doing?

I think about Smilupe's post about "What I shall teach my kids?" And that is what scares me. My children shouldn't be as vulnerable to the effects of pop culture [sex/violence/pride/...] as I was. I want them to know better. But like my middle-school aged self, I want them to fit in.

When will God be popular? When will the characters of pop culture be centered around God. When can I watch a TV show or movie and trust that the character truly fears God. 7th Heaven is the last pop show I can think of with any sense of God.

Going back to the last an extent, I'm a bit ashamed of my idoltry of Michael Jackson.

It's all fun & games til you realize how it has effected you. and moreso others around you.

This is all so humbling. As I said earlier...the closer you get to God, the farther you have get from other things.

((reads above)) thoughts were so scattered, but I won't edit for the sake of candid-ness.

I'll close with this:
"A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways" James 1:8.