The TV Diet Challenge!
We don't have cable. We don't even have a TV. This wasn't a choice we made out of a desire to be overly pious. Serving in ministry and living off of support in our early days, we simply didn't have the budget. Nor did we feel good about using money *you* were sacrificing on our behalf for something we didn't really need. (Thank you... we couldn't have made it without you). Now that Devin has a salaried position at Anglican International School - Jerusalem, we probably could squeeze a small cable plan into our budget, but we've chosen not too. We're not entertainment free. We watch movies and sitcoms on DVDs. The difference is that we are in charge of what and how much we watch. The TV isn't on when guests come over, and its not on as white noise in the background during the day or at meals. Its selective.
This year during the annual International Prayer Conference - Jerusalem, Aviel and joyfully accepted an invitation to stay at the hotel with Devin, who is a regular speaker. The food was great, I spent a bit of time resting in a Turkish Bath (as most hotels in Israel include), I loved meeting the attendees from around the world, and we did something we never do at home... we watched TV.
It was fun... at first. However, the longer the TV was on, the more icky I felt, and the more thankful I became for not having cable.
One time while visiting family in North Carolina, my sister shared a story about her son telling her that he could see "angels with broken wings" flying out of the TV. That image of what I believe to be demons, always stuck with me. I understand that there are some worthwhile shows, but most of what's on is just plain gross, at best, and the enemy's way of sneaking into our homes, at worst.
My dad likes to say "Garbage in - Garbage out" and I totally believe that holds true for TV viewing. In the same way that your body will show your diet, junk foods impairing your immune system and adding a little fluff, compared to whole foods building a healthy and tone body; I truly believe your media diet will do the same for your soul.
If you spend your days watching The Bachelor, you're likely ruminating on the wrong idea about romance and relationships. Don't expect to go into marriage with a realist understanding of all that's involved. Similarly, I remember a sudden onset of anxiety and fear while walking to classes at UNC-G one spring, that had not previously existed. After going to the Lord in prayer, I realized it was directly related to watching a weekend marathon of a murder mystery show with my house mates. And that was the end of that.
You see, watching TV is not sinful in itself. But much of the what's on the screen, particularly
That icky feeling I mentioned before, well, that's the greatest indicator for me that I've been defiled, and I need to turn off the show. The problem is that the greater the exposure to sin for entertainment, the less sensitive I become to that particular discernment. I've learned that through the way my Israeli lifestyle of no TV causes utter culture shock when I'm in a TV driven environment.
Have you noticed the same in your life? There's a simple remedy... Maybe its time to go on a TV diet, or a even total fast! I'd like to challenge you to disconnect the cable for a few months and see how it changes your life. You decide the parameters. I'm not trying to perpetuate legalism, rather Holy Spirit led consecration that will strengthen your spirit-man and encourage your relationship with the Lord.
I know there's some good, enjoyable shows that you might miss out on, but allow me to brainstorm with you on this....
Instead of putting that money into cable so you can watch ESPN, buy tickets to REAL ballgames... High School, College, Minor League Baseball are some inexpensive ways to get the family out of the house to make sports memories together if you can't afford MLB, NBA, or NFL.
Do you like shows about families with lots of kids? Then why not offer to babysit for that friend who has a ton of little kids at home... learn from REALity.
Reality Dating shows? Aspire for some romance with your mate. If you're single, used that time block to intentionally pray for marriage and children.
Fashion and Beauty? Why not get a Gym/spa membership and develop a healthy body, or use your saving from cable to increase your grocery budget to afford organic foods.
Travel Shows? Save your cable budget and do some real traveling of your own.
Drama? Go to a play. Read a novel. For the ladies, allow me to recommend Perpetua: A Bride, A Martyr, A Passion by Amy Rachel Peterson.What's really to lose?
And of course, since this is a fast, you could prioritize bible reading and prayer in place of TV time. If you want to be altruistic with your financial savings, you could even consider giving all or a percentage of your saved cable budget to your favorite cause. Support well digging in Africa... or maybe your friend who is trying to raise money for an international adoption.
You see, you can exchange passive entertainment for active entertainment. By getting out of the house, you and your kids will be challenged and inspired. Inspiration always generates creativity and innovation, and an overall healthier lifestyle. If you lose your favorite sitcom in favor of real human relationships, and more time with the Lord, I'd say it was worth it.
Ok... so if anyone takes on my challenge, come back and share your testimony in the comments!
Love and Shalom from the Land!
Check out this great TV Post, Couch Potato Coma by Lindsey Carlson