Friday, June 26, 2009

Piper on TV and Movies (With a Few Cautions of My Own)

I've noticed recently that one of the idols I find myself preaching against most regularly is the television. I'm pretty convinced that TV is mostly not good for Christians. There are some exceptions and some reasonable uses and all that, but in general, it doesn't help us much.

I sympathize with Piper:
    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.

    TV consumes more and more time for those who get used to watching it. You start to feel like it belongs. You wonder how you could get along without it. I am jealous for my evenings. There are so many things in life I want to accomplish. I simply could not do what I do if I watched television. So we have never had a TV in 40 years of marriage (except in Germany, to help learn the language). I don’t regret it.
The time factor is huge to me. I am not close to as disciplined or godly as Piper. Don't get the impression that I'm claiming that. But given the incredible amount of worthless stuff on it, it is easy for me to say, "Why would I want to spend my time on that?"

Addiction to entertainment is a dangerous, dangerous thing, even if the entertainment doesn't contain explicitly sinful content. Christians have got to start thinking really seriously about our movie and t.v. intake.

Perhaps the one thing I would add to Piper's concerns is that in general I find that people who watch lots of movies and feel deeply moved by them tend to go watch more movies and keep feeling deeply moved, rather than do something about the issues that move them. My evidence for this is anecdotal and it is not true for everyone I know like this. My point is to urge real caution.

Read Piper's whole piece. It's helpful.


Ian Clausen said...

I like Piper's (and your) approach to TV, Andrew, and it may encourage you to learn Lauren and I intend for the same in our home. Nevertheless, I am also aware (as you no doubt are) that TV is not anything special by way of idolatry. For Piper's age TV makes sense to harp on; for our age, however, I wonder how other 'semi- immersive technologies' (i.e. computer) fill our modern penchant for wasting time. The removal of TV may be a necessary first-step toward other disciplines: so how should we exhort (and be exhorted by) other Christians regarding the computer or other 'irremovable' technologies? How will you raise children to understand the place of the computer within the home (if you have one there) and as a source of information and social connectivity? The iPod or cell phone too? I like your thinking thus far.

Andrew Faris said...


You just had to go there didn't you? Just had to bring the conviction. I spend a lot of time reading blogs, checking and writing email, and checking my fantasy baseball teams (both of 'em), and not as much time as I should on other things.

It's something that's come to the fore recently, both in terms of time spent and in terms of how I express my love for my wife with the time I spend with her at home. Ouch.

I should add this about our generation (and younger): while t.v. is not the only idol thanks to competition from computers, cell phones, etc., it's still a big one. Britt's high school students are floored when they hear that we don't have a t.v. So are the kids in my youth group. It's still a big one.

Like most idol-worship, the offenders are usually firmly polytheistic...


Johnnie said...

Dodger games are surely ok, no?

I mean if Vin Scully isn't worth my time then I might as well give up the whole thing. And yes, I agree, radio is better for baseball, but in terms of your post I'm not sure radio actually beats in any measurable way...

(And I'M not even a Dodger fan...just a Vin Scully fan. Go Pujols, go Cards, and RIP Jack Buck.)