Thursday, October 29, 2009

The God Television

Television espouses an ideology, a sort of religion, though this is something that few people reflect upon. What do the shows on your television teach you and your family? Do you feel constant desire to spend your money on a new wardrobe, new car, new gadgets, new movies, and a new image? Do you feel as though your life doesn't measure up to the excitement or amount of fun of those on television? Does your life seem mundane in comparison to the constant stimulation, hilarity, and hipness of the characters you watch on television? Do you benchmark your life and that of your family against those on television? Do you require constant stimulation and find yourself easily bored or disinterested by reality?

These are questions we should all ask ourselves when we think about why we own a television. Television is the preacher of the modern age. The television teaches us the gospel of consumerism. This gospel tells us that we must spend money in the pursuit of happiness and fulfillment. It tells us that our leaders are intelligent and well intentioned individuals out for the common good. It requires a rigid orthodoxy by ostracizing those who know and speak truth. Those who are different are ridiculed. It only accommodates fringe elements in order to monitor and contain dissident elements in the culture.

The television demands a rigorous obedience—your time must be oriented around wealth creation, consumption, or discipleship through watching television. Behaviors that conflict with these priorities are rendered sentimental or nostalgic—and to be partaken in vicariously, through the actors on television.

The television's purpose is to transform the human being from a spiritual being created in the image of God into a mechanism—a mere piece of machinery created for pleasure through consumption.

The creation of cultural touchstones ensures its survival and supremacy over the American experience. Award shows, tributes to celebrities, sporting events, presidential debates, and American Idol mythologize memorable moments in film and television history with the intention of creating its own scriptural 'tele-canon' through self-affirmation. "All pleasure is breathed out by Television and profitable for teaching, for proof, for correction, and for training in consumption, that the man of Television may be competent, equipped for every good work."

Television has subverted the meaning of everything outside its realm. Television has elevated pop culture over all other culture. The creation of pop culture and all its progeny have trivialized anything that is not pop culture or that rejects its importance. The trivia of the television show renders true knowledge as trivial compared to the knowledge concerning fictional sexual trysts of fictional people on television. That store shelves contain box upon box of trivia games based on television shows and movies demonstrates the ascendancy of pop culture over true culture and true knowledge.

The television is always working to keep your attention, to enrapture your imagination and overwhelm your senses. The abundance of programs that appeal to virtually every imaginable audience is evidence of this. To think that one may partake in any show without fear of being proselytized is naïve and dangerous. The convenience of the remote control ensures the ease of transition between programming, captivating your interest at all possible moments. The only safe television is one that is turned off.

This god, Television, though it may seem to have the upper hand, is in fact weak because it is only an idol of our own making. You and I have all tithed to it and made it what it is. Its power over us may be broken by withdrawing our consent. Let us do so, and give our allegiance to the one true and living God—the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.


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