Television and an Idiot Culture

I recently read Os Guinness’ book Fit Bodies, Fat Minds: Why Evangelicals Don’t Think and What To Do About It. It is a very brief, yet thought-provoking study on the history of evangelicalism and Christianity and culture. In it, he argues how the majority of American evangelicals have come to reject intellectual, theological, doctrinal, and knowledgeable Christianity. One argument he makes is that Christianity is being heavily influenced by secular American culture, particularly through television.

He makes a very convincing argument as to how television is encouraging a culture of entertainment and especially a non-thinking, idiot culture. I thought I would share part of what he says in this post:

“First, television discourse has a bias against understanding. With its rapid images, its simplistic thought, and its intense emotions, television is devoid of the context needed for true understanding. Its superficiality amounts to a form of disinformation. ‘Disinformation does not mean false information. It means misleading information – misplaced, irrelevant, fragmented, or superficial information – information that creates the illusion of knowing something, but which in fact leads one away from knowing.’

“Second, television discourse has a bias against responsibility. The same rapidity, variety, and intensity of images that provides the viewer no context for true understanding also prevents the viewer from engaging with the consequences of what is experienced. The abrupt – sometimes absurd – discontinuities between programming and advertising particularly makes this so. ‘There is no murder so brutal, no earthquake so devastating, no political burden so costly . . . that it cannot be erased from our minds by a newscaster saying, ‘Now . . . this.'”

“Third, television discourage has a bias against memory and history. Its very pace and style creates a nonstop preoccupation with the present. Incoherent perhaps, irresponsible certainly, the ceaseless, breathless flow of the Now renders viewers incapable of remembering. As television superjournalist Bill Moyers laments, ‘We Americans seem to know everything about the last twenty-four hours but very little of the past sixty centuries or the last sixty years.’

“Fourth, television discourse has a bias against rationality. With rare exceptions, television so disdains ‘talking heads’ that the very act of thinking becomes unthinkable on television. A thinker questioned might pause to reflect, ‘Now let me see . . . What do you mean?’ But on television, such thinking is too slow, too uncertain, too boring. As any aficionado of such shows as ‘The McLaughlin Group’ knows, television answering is performing, not pondering. It is theatre rather than thinking, entertaining drama rather than edifying debate. To criticize such shows as if they were anything else is to miss the fun, they would say.

“Fifth, television discourse has a bias against truth and accuracy. Credibility was once linked to veracity – someone or something was believable because of being true or not true. Today, however, credibility serves as a synonym for plausibility – whether someone or something seems to be true. Credibility in the television age has little to do with principle and all to do with plausibility and performance. ‘Is it true?’ is overshadowed by ‘Was it compelling/sincere/entertaining/charismatics?’ The smile and the assured answer now carry the day.”

 

 

Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy is not Optional

“It is that ‘the Lord made it holy’. He who is King over all the earth has, by his sovereign right, made the day holy. He devoted one day in each seven to his worship and service. He does not advise or request but he decrees that it is so. He who is eternal divided our time and legislated that we give him a day of worship each week.

It is advisable that every creature take note of this reminder that the Almighty has personally set aside one day in seven for himself. All who must one day stand before him to have their everlasting destines announced have need to hear the standard he devised to judge them. How many excuses of ignorance, of being too busy to pray, of not having time to read Scripture, to become acquainted with the saints, to bring one’s family to worship will die on the lips of the guilty before this commandment? When in his awesome majesty the Lord says, ‘I made the day holy’, who will plead exemption from Sabbath practice?

It is the Lord who declared the day holy. Who will deny it? It is the Lord who decided that Sabbath-keeping would be one of the ten pillars of human righteousness. Who wishes to argue with him? It is the Lord who kept the first Sabbath, showing such use of time to be of the essence of divine moral character. Who will lead others to fall short of the glory of God? Who would not imitate his righteousness? Or not obey his law? He has said the commandment is holy. It is an essential ingredient of righteousness.”

Walter Chantry, Call the Sabbath a Delight.

Jesus Christ’s Glorification in Dismissing Judas

“Therefore, when he was gone out, Jesus said, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him.” John 13:31

“With the dismissal of Judas the die was cast. Not as if there had ever been any uncertainty with respect to the divine plan that Jesus was to die for his people. God’s eternal decree is absolutely unchangeable and is sure to be realized. But now, with the dismissal of Judas, the realization of this plan in history has reached another decisive stage. When Jesus dismissed Judas with the words, “What you are doing, do it faster,” he thereby again decisively manifested his willingness to enter the deep waters and the dark night of eternal death for his own. The Lord knew that it was with a purpose in mind that Judas had left the room, namely, to reveal to the rulers the whereabouts of Jesus and to show them how they might seize him. In the full knowledge of this fact, the Master had just now told this hardened sinner to go ahead and to do more quickly what he was in the process of doing. This shows that the Son desired to be obedient to the will of the Father, and that he desired to make manifest his glorious love to the elect by suffering and dying for them.

By means of this obedience and love Jesus, as the Son of man . . . was glorified. He was glorified just now, in speaking these words to the traitor, and the glory was still upon him. He had seen the coming of the storm but instead of avoiding it he walked right into it. Like a hen which, being in the act of spreading its wings protectingly over its chicks, thereby permitting the rain to come down upon its own back in torrents, while its brood is perfectly safe, elicits expression of admiration from the lips of those who have been watching, so also, and far more so, the Lord, in the act of dismissing Judas, reflects glory on himself; for in doing this he allows the storm, not of rain but of wrath, to descend upon himself, while he shelters his own. This was his glory.”William Hendrickson, John