Worshipping at the Altar of Television

By JMathis

femmefuelThe television. Time-killer. Brain-killer. Relationship-killer. Dream-killer. This is what I know about television.

Yet, I ingest this poison nightly.

I have all these dreams that I want to fulfill in my life—dreams which require much prayer, thought, planning, diligence and hard work. Yet, after a long day of work and going through the nightly motions of making dinner and putting my daughter to bed, I am too “exhausted” to even dream my dreams. Slowly, these dreams fade to black as the drone of the TV replaces them one-by-one and piece-by-piece, until they are no more and bear no more significance to my life.

How many times has this scene played out in your home?

Nightly?

More than you care to admit?

My husband and I are guilty-as-charged, as there are nights when we huddle in front of the television without saying a word to one another. So depleted and choked by the worries of the day, we forget to even speak to each other, as we give into the comforting glow of the television set—the television set that appears to give so much, and demand so little in return.

Time-killer. Brain-killer. Relationship-killer. Dream-killer.

Sometimes I worry that all this television watching will play out like scenes from one of my favorite movies, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Without giving the premise of the movie away, the film takes us through the relationship of a couple—once vibrant in their love for each other, they soon become estranged as their differences become magnified in the boredom of their day-to-day relationship. Here are scene notes from what a typical day was like in their relationship:

Joel and Clementine sit and eat dinner in front of the TV.

It’s hard to make out what they’re watching. They sit on opposite ends of the couch. They look bored. The scene quickly degenerates. The room fades.

Joel looks over at the faded Clementine across the couch. She stares straight ahead at the TV.

Joel watches TV. Clementine walks by in her underwear, looks at the TV. She slips into a skirt.

The scene starts to fade. Clementine puts on her shoes and heads out the door.

Time-killer. Brain-killer. Relationship-killer. Dream-killer.

Sometimes I find tremendous irony in watching the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), where Oprah is telling me in earnest to be in hot pursuit of my dreams, while I just, well…sit there. And, then sit there some more. It is abundantly clear to everyone else but me, that I am in hot pursuit of absolutely nothing when I watch Oprah “challenging” and “prodding” me to “live my best life”.

Even though I might convince myself that her words are somehow inspiring and propelling me to live life to its fullest, why then can’t I get off of the couch? Who am I kidding? Is this a sign of a highly-successful person?

Since when is it acceptable to watch other people (like Oprah) live out their dreams on television, while you lean back and forget about your own hopes and plans for the future? The notion seems so ludicrous if you were explaining it to a young child, and yet we adults have no problem succumbing to it night after weary night.

Time-killer. Brain-killer. Relationship-killer. Dream-killer.

Now, I am not going to act like some rabid, self-righteous, hypocritical zealot claiming that television is evil. However, as I glaringly point the finger towards myself, I am going to challenge you today to examine your mind’s consumption of what is offered by the boob tube.

Apart from the spiritual and physical ramifications of wasting your life in front of the television, have you ever examined its role in how it interrupts your thoughts, your day-to-day to do list, your plans to start and grow a business or a ministry, or even your ability to relate to others—particularly your significant other?

Are the seconds, minutes, hours and weekends somehow dissipating as you find yourself worshipping at the altar of your television?

After all, your new job will not fall into your lap while you lie on the couch.

Your soulmate will not find you while you lie on the couch.

You will not get your body back while you lie on the couch.

Your marital problems will not magically disappear while you lie on the couch.

More importantly, you will not find out God’s purpose for your life while you lie on the couch…and watch TV.

Did God put you on this earth simply just to lie in front of a TV all night? Isn’t there more to our lives than watching Rachel Berry fulfill her dreams of Broadway on Glee? Than seeing which housewife mauled another housewife on The Real Housewives of God-Knows-What-City?

Rather than feel guilty, let’s chip away at this altar one-by-one and piece-by-piece, until it is no more and bears no more significance to our lives.

In this 31 Day Mind-Body-Spirit Challenge, will you fast with me some parts of our daily television viewing?

Maybe we can take time to call a friend instead?

Read the book or the magazine that has been collecting dust on the shelf?

Do simple stretching exercises?

Spend time in the Word?

Surround ourselves in the stillness of God’s presence?

For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 2 Corinthians 3: 17.

Take time today to really free yourself from this Time-killer. This Brain-killer. This Relationship-killer. This Dream-killer.

I’ll do it with you.

Let’s turn Oprah off and go live our best lives yet.

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