Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Entertainment

I've had cause recently to ponder the nature of entertainment and how it is to fit into the life of the Christian. What, you may wonder, prompted these thoughts? Well, it is my addiction to Gilmore Girls and getting to borrow seasons 1-5 on DVD. We've watched little else here this past month. Not only that, but we've been watching A LOT of Gilmore. But the more I've watched, especially so much in so short of time, the more acutely I've been aware of the world view which underlies the show and the sort of "people" the main characters really are.

Now, I have the habit when watching a show or movie to view the situations and people the same way I would real people in real life. So I get attached to these people, I feel like I know them, like I would want to have them over to dinner to hang out, that sort of thing. But as I've been watching Gilmore Girls I have realized the Lorelei and Rory aren't people I that I would really ever be good friends with. In fact, I would have concerns about close and intimate ties with people who are so antagonistic towards the majority of my world view. But what do I do with this information? Does it really matter that the main characters of my favorite show don't line up with Biblical truth? Does it really matter that they aren't people to be admired or emulated? I mean, it is just entertainment, right?

I'm beginning to think though that it does matter, and that letting things fall under the blanket protection of "entertainment" just doesn't cut it. I should follow that sentence though with the caveat that I intend to keep watching Gilmore for now, and have no intention of returning the DVDs today or anything like that. The thing though I that I wonder about is the sense of entitlement that we all seem to have in regards to entertainment and relaxation and down time. It is a part of our mindset that we are somehow deserving of entertainment-that the right to watch a movie or a TV show or read a book is inherent in the make up of the universe. It is taken for granted that we all need "down time" to relax and get back on track in order to do everything else better. And maybe we do, I honestly have no idea. I can see much good coming from forms of entertainment. First of all, truth can be expressed in fiction. Read this article at my husbands blog for expansion on this idea. But basically real Biblical truth can and is contained in much fiction and it can be to our great benefit to read. Also there are bonds which are formed sitting down as a family or friends and enjoying entertainment together, talking about it, laughing together. And "down time" can come in various forms-many of them very good. Playing an instrument for example can be used for the good of many, arts and crafts can benefits those less fortunate (think church quilting circle) and leave hierlooms and memories for the generations to follow. So I am certainly not thinking for a moment that everything which isn't work or Bible reading is bad and should be thrown out.

What though are our standards by which we judge how we spend our time? And what effect are these activities having on us? Do we get so caught up in a favorite movie or TV show that we are ok with the compromised morals of those involved? I know I have. (For fellow Grey's Anatomy fans, anyone else find themselves rooting for Dr. Shepard to choose Meredith?) And beyond even choosing our entertainment and down time, how much time do we commit to even those things which are good? Do we more earnestly pursue our hobbies and entertainment than we do our God, His Word, and the families which He has given us?

I don't have answers to these questions, but I am beginning to understand that the way I spend my time is something I need to be conscience of. It is important to not simply go through my day on auto-pilot, not having any concern for the concrete things of God. It isn't enough to pray before meals and think about blog posts and read the occasional Christian blogs. There is much which we can and should be doing with the time our God has given us and perhaps that doesn't need to contain as much entertainment and me time as I once thought it did.

5 Comments:

At March 22, 2006 12:56 PM, Blogger Chester Copperpot said...

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At March 22, 2006 1:02 PM, Blogger Chester Copperpot said...

I too have pondered this quite a bit, since one of my gods prior to salvation was entertainment.

I understand the concern about sweeping these characters sins under the rug, but it honestly doesn't really bother me. The Gilmore Girls attitudes toward the things of God are not what I would like them to be, but if we're honest, it wouldn't be good TV if they were. That's where the tension and the plot come from.

TV's version of the Christian life is a load of worthless crap (7th Heaven), and I think we actually relate, allegorically at least, to the racier characters.

As far as the whole Meridith, and rooting for divirce thing...
Heather struggles with that also. I just don't care. It's the same reason I can watch Zombies eat someone in a movie without being bothered in the least. It's fake. It's fiction. We are not longing to see actual sin. We are wanting to be entertained.

Which leads to the question, "Why are we entertained by fictional depictions of sin?"

My theory - for the same reason comedians make jokes about 9/11, or Jeffery Dahlmer... i's how we deal with pain. We laugh at it. Example - when we read or watch divorce, over half of us feel less alone, and we realize that it's OK to feel like divorce sucks. When someone makes a joke about 9/11, we laugh, and we are glad because we did not have an outlet for what has made us so uncomfortable until then.

I'm not saying it's correct to do this, it's my theory as to why we do it.

Theory #2 - we get to sin vicariously, and live happy lives, where we are all pretty, and the sex is free, so we don't have to worry about God.

I don't like this one much, but it's probably more accurate.

 
At March 22, 2006 2:14 PM, Blogger Tiffany said...

You are painfully right that too often "clean" or "christian" entertainment really sucks. Taking the briefest look at shows like 7th Heaven (although to be honest I think that does far more damage to the nature of truth than gilmore girls or anything else on the WB) or the Hallmark movies, or most anything played on the local christian music stations and it is easy to see the christendom has created this substandard entertainment culture. It is depressing that those who don't know the Lord can write more meaningfully can captivate the world around us better than those who do. *sigh*

I think both of your theories are correct. Sometimes humor/entainment in general (like with 9/11) is the only way we know to deal with something.

I think theory number 2 though is probably that which is right more often and it is disturbing. It would seem to indicate that we don't take sin as seriously as we are suppose to. Those sins which we are being entertained by are that which caused our Lord to die. We don't look at sin in the same way God does even though we're told that we should. It is rather sobering.

I too am usually able to simply filter things out and enjoy what is ever on. Blood, language, gore, sex, etc. just don't register when I'm remember the movie. I fear this is because I'm too desenstitized to it.

 
At March 22, 2006 4:45 PM, Anonymous Shannon said...

interesting thoughts...I think most christians have considered this at one point or another. Anyone who has been to a teen christian camp or retreat has probably been challenged to run home and throw away all secular entertainment (movies, tv shows, and music). And often I have considered taking such a drastic measure but I find a hard balance between living out my faith and not finding myself drawn into the christian sub-culture.

For me, there are definately certian programs I have to say no to...but there are others that I think serve as great reminders of the world we live in. Often I find myself detaching from the world and I look around at my friends and think..things aren't so bad. But the truth is, art often depicts real life...and sometimes I depend on forms of entertainment to feed me the dose of "reality" that I needed and stirs up in me needed reflection that sends me racing to scripture and prayer.

(this has been a little choppy but that is because I am babysitting at the same time and a little distracted!)

 
At March 23, 2006 1:57 PM, Blogger Tiffany said...

while I would agree that slipping into the Christian sub-culture so to speak isn't desirable, the question stil remains, do we have some right to this entertainment to begin with? Just because we don't listen to raunchy secular music doesn't mean we have to run out and by the newest Point of Grace (that's a band, right?) CD.

And we definitely do need to understand the culture in which we live, and yes art can reflect that culture well. But if we're honest we don't generally engage in entertainment for the sake of understanding culture. Yes, sometimes it is a nice by-product, but rarely the actually motivation. And even beyond that we will never be taking on all people and all parts of culture everywhere. Rather, we meet individual people at certain times and are to engange in their lives. It might serve a purpose to know what they are watching on TV, but I don't think it is necessary for investing in their lives. We would all learn a lot more from being in the world with real people instead of being in the world with entertainment. Even if entertainment can provide some of the information.

Still much to ponder, no conclusions here yet.

 

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