Television the Diversion

I recently started reading a set of expositional commentaries by James Boice . Thankfully, I don’t have to deal with a complete collection of books, it’s conveniently in electronic version through Libronix Software. Anyhow, I just finished reading his exposition on Romans 12:2 (ESV)

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

In our culture, television is probably one of the most common influences, bringing the world into our home. Boice’s commentary made a very keen observation about how television quickly goes from image to image with little relevance between them.

Rational thought requires such connections. It depends on similarities, contradictions, deductions, and the development of probable consequences. It requires time. It is what books and other serious print media give us. But this is precisely what television does not give. It does not give time for thought, and if it does not give time for thought or promote thought, what it essentially amounts to is ?diversion.?

Boice, J. M. (1991-c1995). Romans (1534). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House.

I’ve often experienced this when sitting and watching T.V. whether it’s a news show or one of the new reality shows. I’ll be watching something that may be shocking or thought provoking. I might even begin to say something about it out loud. However, the show quickly moves to the next scene or situation and my thoughts become distracted as my attention turns to the next images that are shown on the screen. Television doesn’t give us time to think and talk about things that we experience. We don’t take the time to discuss and learn from these experiences. It’s just one experience after another.
Perhaps Tivo provides some hope for us to pause television and talk about what we see, but we first of all have to watch thought provoking and meaningful programming, and we have to get out of the habit of wanted to be entertained. Meaningful programming for a Christian is rarely on television. We’ve started getting Netflix movies, and some of the documentaries are valuable for learning about the world around us, and DVD gives us the chance to pause and think. But most popular television programming is mindless trash with only value for entertaining.

If American’s want to avoid becoming a nation of mindless people and if Christians want to fill their mind with spiritual things, they are going to have to turn off the television. Pick up a book, read and think about something meaningful. I’ll leave you with one more excerpt from Boice’s commentary.

I close here by mentioning a helpful little book by John Stott, the Rector Emeritus of All Souls Church in London, titled Your Mind Matters. It deals with six spheres of Christian living, and it argues that each one is impossible without a proper and energetic use of our minds: Christian worship, Christian faith, Christian holiness, Christian guidance, Christian evangelism, and Christian ministry. We need to think.

Stott argues that ?anti-intellectualism ? is ? part of the fashion of the world and therefore a form of worldliness. To denigrate the mind is to undermine foundational Christian doctrines.? He asks pointedly, ?Has God created us rational beings, and shall we deny our humanity which he has given us? Has God spoken to us, and shall we not listen to his words? Has God renewed our mind through Christ, and shall we not think with it? Is God going to judge us by his Word, and shall we not be wise and build our house upon this rock??? They are important and helpful questions, if you think about them.

Boice, J. M. (1991-c1995). Romans (1537). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House.

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