My house has Dish Network and their whole package of channels (over 400) and yet on some nights I find it difficult to find something worthwhile to watch. On those nights I find myself complaining of “nothing to watch” my kids remind me of my answer to them when they say the same thing. “When I was your age; we only had 3 channels and we liked it; we had to go outside and move the antenna manually in the rain while my dad screamed from the living room, and we liked it; my video game was two white dashes and a little spot moving back and forth called pong, and we liked it; yada, yada, yada”. If you are over 40, you know what I am talking about; if you are under 40 – I am sorry, we didn’t really like it. We did not know any better. We thought that reruns of the Brady Bunch, Gilligans Island and Petticoat Junction was quality TV (my ADD has kicked in and I am singing the Petticoat Junction theme song; another earwig!). We liked it because we did not have any other choices. On Sunday after football, you watched “Laurence Welk” or the” Wonderful World of Disney” – same choices, every week. In my family, we would visit my Grandparents house on Sundays so we really did not have a choice – “vonderful, vonderful”. The point of all this rambling is that we watched certain shows because we really did not have any other choice – unlike today.
With over 400 channels, TV on demand, the internet, DVD’s, DVR’s and every other kind of entertainment available, we have more choices today than one person can comprehend. Yet it seems like the most popular form of entertainment today is watching the shortcomings of others. Reality TV in some form or another is on every channel and on some channels, it is all they offer. Now before you become offended and stop reading, let me clarify as simply as I can. I put these reality shows into two categories; “those we laugh with” and “those we laugh at”. I will admit it is a very fine line between the two but when it comes to most of these reality shows there is an obvious difference. As an example; I love “Duck Dynasty” and while I usually find myself laughing at “Uncle Si”, most of the humor is good natured and you are really laughing with the rest of the family and the situations they find themselves in. Maybe I am rationalizing, but the Spirit of the show just seems different from some of the other offerings on reality TV, which brings me to my point (I warned you early on that these things might ramble).
Last night I could not find anything on TV to catch my attention so I stopped the remote on TLC. At one time this was “The Learning Channel” but I doubt you would learn anything from their current lineup. They were airing a marathon of “Honey Boo, Boo”. I had heard about the show before, I had read a couple of articles on the background of the family on the show, but none of that could prepare me for what I saw. I can’t describe the show; I could never do it justice; suffice to say, it is something one must see to really believe and comprehend. (I am NOT recommending you watch it!) I will admit that after just a few minutes I found myself laughing, and I am not talking a little chuckle, I was laughing hard. This was not a “laughing with” laughter either; I was laughing AT the people on the show. I assume this must be why the show is so popular, because there was no redeeming quality in anything I saw. I realize that there are all kinds of lessons to be found in the fact that this show is so popular or why so many people are drawn to it and watch it, but I want to share what I experienced.
After about 10 minutes of watching and laughing, I began to get a sick feeling in my stomach. Maybe it was from laughing so hard, maybe it was from guilt, or maybe conviction; but it continued to get worse. In the midst of feeling sick, I started hearing the words of Christ; “the least of these” “the least of these”… These people I was laughing at were not some characters on a sitcom; they were real, flesh and blood, broken and hurting, people. These people I was laughing at were people that God loved just as much as He loved me; they were “his children”. (I am not trying to rain on your viewing parade, just explaining what happened to me). After a few minutes to let those thoughts bounce around my head, I turned the TV off. Then the words to a verse I have read on the 1st day of every month for the last 20 years came to my heart; “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, or stand in the way of sinners, or sit in the seat of mockers” Psalms 1:1. What are you trying to say God? Was I sitting in the seat of mockers? The King James translation calls it the “seat of the scornful”; somehow that hurt even more. Had I allowed my couch to become the “seat of mockers” all in the name of entertainment or passing the time? The Holy Spirit was reminding me that I struggled enough with making fun of others and mocking those less fortunate than me to invite another avenue for doing that into my home. To make matters worse, as I was trying to rationalize to my conscience that it was just TV, and it was all in good fun, these people are getting paid; the words to a song that the worship team lead us in a couple of weeks ago came back to my heart. “Break my heart for what breaks Yours”. A simple yet striking request I had just asked of God. I began to wonder, what breaks God’s heart more; this family that is inviting the world in to watch and mock their dysfunction, or all of His disciples that are watching and laughing and slowly letting their hearts become calloused to the world around us?
I ended up on the internet looking up the name of “honey boo –boo’s” family so I could commit to praying for them. As I prayed for them I asked the Holy Spirit to soften my heart to the point it becomes more natural for me to weep instead of laugh. “Break my heart for what breaks Yours”. Afterwards, I found the channel for “The Wonder Years” and escaped into the life of Kevin Arnold – now that show has some redeeming value!