This blog records my transition from the Churches of Christ to Eastern Orthodoxy.

Friday, December 4, 2009

What TV Show Would Jesus Watch? - An Interesting Take

Check Out This Article

This article presents at least a seed of an alternate view.  i've never watched the tv show "Glee" that the article is talking about, so i can't speak to that program in particular.  But i think the article makes some general applications worth thinking about. 

"We shouldn't watch anything in a movie or tv or anything in a book we read or anything in music we listen to that's bad or sinful."  i've often found this traditional view both unsatisfying and difficult to argue with.  It seems like a good heuristic to keep me out of trouble.  But it also seems grossly oversimplified. 

First, however pure our intentions, it seems like some lines will be drawn that do more to insulate and isolate us from real people in real situations.  It seems to me there is such a thing as being so darn "Christian" that i really can't relate to or reach anyone who isn't. 

i remember reading someone use an illustration:  A number of missionaries in Ireland failed to reach the locals.  In particular, a missionary who had been there for years couldn't even get the locals to associate with him.  They wanted to go to the pub and drink and smoke, and since he taught that such things were sinful and such places were sinful, he would never go in to speak with them and they wouldn't ever ditch their drinking and smoking and pub-going to come out and speak with him. Eventually, a new missionary came to town.  The first night he was there, he walked right into the pub, ordered a beer, got to know all the locals' names and occupations.  The second night at the pub, he asked them all about their families.  The third night at the pub, he asked them all about their struggles and worries.  The fourth night at the pub he told them all about his struggles and worries and how Jesus was the answer to it all.  The following Sunday, several of those pub-goers visited the new missionary's worship serivce.  The old missionary caught wind that some of the pub-goers had started going to church.  The old missionary went and spoke with the new missionary and asked him how he did it.  The new missionary explained exactly what he had done as soon as he got into town.  The old missionary was horrified, "you went into the pub and drank and smoked with them?!"  The new missionary replied, "Well, someone had to do the Christ-like thing in that situation."

i don't mean to speak to the issue of drinking and smoking.  Maybe you do think those things are sinful.  Maybe they are.  But i think there is a principle in that illustration which makes an important point.  i think it's possible to be so "Christian-cultured" (for lack of a better term) that we end up being no earthly good.  Jesus met people where they were.  He ate with them in their houses and attended their dinner parties and all the religious people of His day accused him of being a "party-er."  i wonder if we were there back then if we would find ourselves in Jesus' shoes rubbing elbows with the lower rungs of society or in the shoes of the Pharisees looking down their noses at Jesus and the people He aimed to reach. 

i realize this really isn't a point directly related to what a Christian should watch on tv or listen to in their CD player, but i think it is indirectly related.  We can treat modern art and media with such contempt that it does create a gulf between us "religious people" and the people in society for whom such art is an important identifying marker and community builder.  Just work with teenagers for very long and you'll learn the very powerful effect a rock band has at bringing kids together and building a sub-culture.  Rather than standing outside their circle berating them for their "wicked, dirty" music, why not go to their concert with them and learn what's important to them and what is it about that art which they identify with and then share your own story as well.  Doesn't that seem more akin to Jesus' method of ministry? 

Second, this view seems to lead to a lot of inconsistent judgments which the author of the article points out.  Harry Potter is the work of the devil, yet The Chronicles of Narnia should be required Christian reading.  'Any movie with sex in it is wicked and we should never watch it,' yet the Bible has more scandalous sex in it than most modern movies. 

So what?  We can and should watch/read/listen to whatever we want regardless of content?  Of course, not.  But it seems like we need a far more nuanced view.

i'm not about to tell you i have it all figured out and can produce such a nuanced view.  But i will offer something i think is a place to start.  Motive.  i think a lot of ethical questions for a disciple should really come down to motive.  What am i after?  What's moving me?  What's my goal?  What's driving me?  i think once you take them time to give brutally honest answers to those sorts of questions, you'll already have a pretty good idea of what you should do or not do.  So in this case, why am i watching the shows i'm watching?  Why am i reading the books i'm reading?  More to the point--why do i enjoy those shows/books/songs?  What is it about them that attracts me? 

i think if people were honest in answering those questions, they might find that they should give up watching/reading some things that by all appearances seem harmless.  And i think they also might find that in some cases what they previously thought was "wicked and dirty" might be worth checking out.

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