I Am Amused, Therefore I Am

Mar 9, 2017 by

by Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch:

In ancient Rome the masses were pacified with bread and circuses. Today in the West we find ourselves in the same mind-numbing and soul-destroying situation. Almost all Westerners have the basics: food, clothing and shelter. So now we spend much of our time on entertainment, amusement and trivial pursuits.

Indeed, we spend billions of dollars a year drugging ourselves with all manner of entertainment. Our homes are filled with plasma TVs, video games, and entertainment systems, and we spend countless hours at sporting matches, movies and other forms of amusement.

These trends have not gone unnoticed. Many have remarked how we are destroying our lives and our societies by this constant need for amusement. Twenty-five years ago a very important book appeared dealing with this very issue. Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death was an incisive expose of the entertainment culture.

The primary focus of the book was television, and how it dumbs us all down. It is an invaluable assessment of the many ways in which television has trivialised and downgraded the important issues and institutions of life. Today of course with the Internet, cable TV, DVDs, mobile phones and so many other new technologies, his criticisms of a quarter century ago are even more relevant.

We might well expect those who have no hope and no newness of life in Christ to fill their every spare minute with amusements of every sort and nonstop entertainment. But the real concern is how the church is little different. Multiple millions of Western believers seem to live to be entertained.

Not only would most Christians live lives exactly parallel to non-believers in terms of the amount of entertainment they imbibe every day, but our churches have also hopped on the amusement bandwagon. We seem to think we must offer every form of worldly entertainment available to keep people coming to our churches.

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