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Entertain Me (Now)

October 9, 2011

Welcome to what we hope will become our regular Sunday feature here on Singular Spectrum, “Spectrum Perspectives.” Throughout the week, you get the benefit of the (very limited) wisdom of each of us individually, but on Sunday we pool our efforts to each create a small amount of material on one subject. This week’s subject is entertainment and its role in a Christian’s life. It was suggested by the inimitable Paul Newton (Tim’s dad). I’m excited for this post. Leaves suggestions for next week’s Spectrum Perspectives in the comments or send us an idea on twitter.

Entertainment is such a big part of the American society. We have people getting paid MILLIONS of dollars for our entertainment. I love entertainment. Music fills my ears every chance I can get. TV shows are great and I love watching movies as well. So my opinion of entertainment is great, but when it consumes what we are and its all we are, we are missing out on real life. I fall into that trap as well. I get on my computer and pull up YouTube, Hulu, and my social network sites and get entertained. But I miss out on so much! We don’t always have to be entertained, but that is who we have become.

Also, all entertainment has some sort of message. It can be good or it can be bad. Remember that as a Christian, you represent Christ. What you watch, listen to and read becomes who you are. Are you okay with becoming who you are becoming by what you listen to? Take entertainment at small doses and live life with people. Everything you do reflects your relationship with Christ. Make that your goal.

– Adam Swensen

The question of entertainment’s role in our lives is an especially tricky (and important) one for me as an aspiring novelist. Do I write (and read and listen to music and watch TV…) simply for entertainment’s sake, or is there more to it than that? Can there even be more to entertainment than a mindless transference of pleasure? If the answer to that questions is “no”, then I’d have to decry all entertainment as a waste of time and energy and give up on noveling altogether.

While a lot of what passes for entertainment in our frivolity-obsessed culture really is a waste of time, however, there are those artists who endeavor to create music, books, and movies that do more than simply entertain. That’s the kind of artist that I aspire to be and the kind of entertainment that I believe does serve a useful purpose – the kind that challenges us to think about life and how we live it.

Songs like “Easier Than Love” by Switchfoot, a catchy song which also looks with unflinching honesty at the dire consequences of our culture’s so-called sexual liberty and pleads with us to turn around. Books like John Green’s “Paper Towns”, which delivers just as many valuable insights about life and what it means to really know someone as it does laughs. Movies like “The Truman Show”, which is both funny and deeply challenging, begging the question of why we believe without question the things presented to us and what we might find if we were serious about seeking the truth.

This is entertainment with a purpose, and if you use your discernment there’s a lot that you can get out of it. To me, that’s really the key to finding the proper role for entertainment in your life: discernment. Every artist has a message to send, some worthless and some very much worthwhile. Don’t just shut off your brain and take it all in, take the opportunity to identify and engage that message. Scrutinize it, ask questions of it and about it, decide whether or not you agree and why. Don’t turn to entertainment as a way to waste time, use the time you spend with media as a chance to exercise your mind.

– Tim Newton

We have more entertainment in America today than has ever been seen in history up to this point. Let me clarify something: when I say entertainment, I’m speaking of media with a primary purpose of entertaining people. There are many things that are entertaining but have a primary purpose that puts them outside of this definition.

So when is it appropriate for a Christian to partake of entertainment? Or perhaps, how much entertainment is it appropriate for a Christian to consume? You see, a relationship with Christ is the foundation of a Christian’s entire life. Everything we do should have some purpose in giving glory to God, so how can we ever justify something that only serves to amuse us?

At the same time, God created us to enjoy this world. He made it a lovely place because He is love, and then He gave it to us. We don’t want to live our lives as zombies consumed by works; we don’t want to live our lives chasing after futile entertainment.

I don’t have any quick answers to reconcile this perplexity. I can only say, “Seek ye first God’s kingdom.” That’s at the crux of it. Life should be lived intentionally. We need to examine each moment of life to see how it can best be used for God’s purpose. We need to examine each book we read, each movie we watch, all the music we consume to find the beauty of God’s truth in it.

Maybe that’s how to address it. Maybe entertainment only has value insomuch as it reveals truth. I don’t know. What do you think?

– Adam B

6 Comments leave one →
  1. October 10, 2011 3:35 pm

    Entertainment: The erosive anesthesia of vivacity.

    Seems in Western culture, at least, the primary goal is to push through whatever tasks and responsibilities might be lofted one’s way in order to gain access to ‘free time’ for oneself – and, almost by definition, entertainment. Too rarely are altruism, volunteerism, sacrifice, and outreach found amongst the laypeople; too often are ‘meh’ and ‘lol’ a substitute for genuine interaction. I’ve been quite fond of entertainment – generally of the media variety – for far too many years. Those years are now gone, and I can glance backward at them to spot nothing worth preserving. Oh, I’m not saying entertainment can’t lead to personal growth and introspection – or heck, even community and friendship. I’ve seen and lived far too much of all of the above to dismiss those possibilities. Various forms of media can induce resolution, joy, contemplation…even inspiration. But there is a large trap decorated with pulsing strobes that beckons the casual wanderer to soak in a neverending stream of largely fruitless entertainment. As Mr. B said above, live life purposefully. Formulate, strategize, execute – but do not be surprised if divine intervention overwhelms with prospects far beyond what ought rationally be comprehended. The one thing I have been exhorting myself to monitor is the level of depravity in the entertainment I consume. Must everything I watch, read, or hear blatantly glorify God? Can not God operate in media that does not explicitly state His name? Indeed, He can – if it is not evil, it is good, and it came from Him. Furthermore, Jesus ate with publicans and sinners…going by that example, we are also to interact with and engage those whose moral compass does not align with our own. It’s a question of prudishness, then? That term can carry either positive or negative connotations, true. I tend to employ it in a complimentary tone, valuing those who chase after righteousness and blamelessness and goodheartedness. It can also, however, be cast as a captive shelter that prohibits the earnest Christian from reaching those who are not as comfy-comfy and churchy-churchy as those who might constitute ‘safe’ fellowship. (Oh, could that ever be a topic for discussion – albeit smacking of hypocrisy, owing to the fact that I work at a church.) Nevertheless, why should I consume media that deviates wildly from my conscience’s dictations? If it is obsessed with vulgarity, lewdness, wickedness, gore, inebriation, apathy, or outright disrespect, what good could it possibly do me – and why in the world should I be investing my time into ‘enjoying’ it? What good is it a man to gain the whole world if the whole world is full of disease and unholiness?

    These questions and more could well be answered only to be met with still further questions, for that is the lamentable consequence of incompletion. But I take hope in this line, found in entertainment, that we can exceed inconsequential passivity and excel in all that we do – *and* all that we consume:

    Love is the movement
    Love is the revolution
    This is redemption
    We don’t have to slow back down

    • October 10, 2011 8:23 pm

      There’s so much valuable insight in this comment I think it should officially count as part of the post. Well said, Tek.

    • October 10, 2011 9:10 pm

      Amen to what Tim said. Hey, since Tim and I will very likely have a very busy November (with Nano and such), is there any chance you’d like to prepare a couple guest posts for slots in that month?

      • October 10, 2011 11:26 pm

        There is indeed a chance, sir. I’ll be absolutely swamped as well, but I should be able to scrabble together a couple posts for ya. =) Will you all be selecting topics, or will I? You can have Tim relay me any details an’ such, if you like, or you could contact me directly at Tekaramity (at) yahoo (dot) com.

        And by the by, I’d gladly write for Singular Spectrum way sooner than I’d ever write for Tiff’s Butterblog. ;-]

  2. October 17, 2011 11:51 am

    something to think about: America’s impact on the world when it comes to media. if you think about it, our contribution to the world isn’t textiles, food, or materials, because we import much of those, but we export media… having traveled overseas and spent a considerable amount of time there, America is the biggest influence on the world because of our media export… be in prayer for our media and those in it. change the media: change the world (to borrow a similar phrase from Heroes 😉 )


  1. | The Global Concern ( TGC )

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