Resurrected Living
"What are you going to do with your new resurrected life? This is the heroic question." Richard Rohr

Four Thoughts on Entertainment

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Entertainment is big business. We spend billions of dollars each year on entertainment. The Lego Movie made 69 million dollars in one weekend alone. I contributed to that 69 million dollars and the next weekend my son and I went again. Entertainment is one of the biggest industries in our society. Companies are constantly vying for our attention, time, and money. While we are going through our daily routines experts are studying and trying to figure out how best to grab our attention and keep us watching or listening. We are outmanned and outgunned. We come home worn out from work and sit down to enjoy a few moments of relaxation in front of the television, not realizing that we are being manipulated. Some of this manipulation is harmless. An advertiser may try and manipulate you into buying their brand of dish soap. There is nothing inherently wrong with making a dish soap seem appealing, but there is something wrong with manipulating a person to stay in front of a TV when they need to get up and spend some time with their children. We live in an entertainment culture and it is important that we think through how we should use entertainment and how it ultimately affects us as human beings. Here are a few thoughts I have concerning entertainment. I would like to hear yours also.

Reactionary or Engagement? – What is our response towards entertainment? Some Christians have a reactionary response towards entertainment. They hear about something and they react. I have seen this happen recently with the film Noah. There are Christians posting about this film and reacting to it even though it has not been released yet. This is a reactionary response. Reactionary responses do not accomplish anything except maybe rally the base. Outsiders do not even pay attention. They think such a response is silly. Reactionary responses do not cause a person to think or examine what they are watching. A better way to respond to entertainment is to engage it. We can use entertainment to reach people and begin conversations about deeper things, just as Paul used pagan poets to reach people in his day and age. Engaging a film or song means we seriously think about the purpose and meaning of it. We point out the positives as well as the negatives. We are free to critique it because we have sought first to understand it, rather than simply react to it. People take engagement seriously even if we find little or nothing good in a film or song.

Mindless Entertainment – There are forms of entertainment in our culture that contain no objectionable material, but are very dangerous. Most often they come in the form of games on our phone. A few years ago I was addicted to Angry Birds. I had it on my phone and I took my phone with me wherever I went. Whenever I had a few minutes of free time I would whip out my phone and begin to play. As I became more addicted I would play at home or while I was with friends or family. There are tons of games available that have no purpose or point, but are simply created to be addictive and to waste our time. I still have a smart phone, but I took all the games off of it. I have a few games for my son that I rarely let him play, but they are all educational games that have a purpose. I think the idea of play is an important one. There have been recent studies that show how playing certain games benefit people. They can help us become better problem solvers. They can help us hone certain skills, but we must be careful of becoming addicted to games that have little or no purpose.

How Do You Use Entertainment? – This is an important question. Some use entertainment as escapism. It is like a drug. They may be stressed out at work and cannot wait to get home to watch their favorite TV show or play their favorite game. Entertainment can give us a high. It gives us a form of happiness or pleasure. This can be dangerous. There is nothing wrong with taking some time to relax and be entertained, but when we use entertainment to continually escape reality then we have a problem. If we spend a majority of our time being entertained, then we need to rethink how we are using entertainment. We need to learn how to control entertainment. My family no longer has satellite, cable, or even an antenna in our home. We still watch shows like Downton Abbey and The Walking Dead after our son goes to bed, but we have to consciously choose to get up and put a disc in the DVD player. It is not available to us 24/7 with the push of a button. This may not work for everyone, but it has been a blessing in our life. We find ourselves watching much less TV and spending more time with our son.

Art vs. Entertainment – Some entertainment is art, but not all of it. Art is something we need. We need to be moved. We need to be made to think about humanity, justice, grace, beauty, and truth. Good art helps us to do this. Scripture contains art. It is full of the best poetry, prose, and song this world has ever known. Scripture contains stories of love, lament, courage, and sacrifice. It contains beautiful songs that move us and lift us up. Without art this world would be a dull place. Poetry, song, and story are as old as humanity itself. We need these things. Art is a necessity, but entertainment is not. It is nice to be entertained, but it does not have the same purpose as art. It is important that we do not exchange entertainment for art. We need stories and music that move us and make us a better person. We do not need stories and music whose only purpose is to occupy our time and make someone rich.

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