Why Do I Let The Insane Catechize Me?

I suppose entertainment has always had some pedagogical intent and I suppose that, at some level, I have long been aware of it but in recent months I have become increasingly aware two things:

(1) the tendentious nature of much of contemporary, popular entertainment. In our house we have favored mysteries and procedurals (some British, some American) for a long time but, in recent years, the people writing them seem to have become intellectually incapacitated. The plots are lazy, the writing witless and sloppy, and worse: full of annoying social-justice homilies delivered under the guise of exposition. Dear Writers and Actors, I do not need you to raise my consciousness. I am paying you to write a good story and perform them well. I will sort out my own social ethics. Self-righteousness always makes for bad stories, whether it is the Scarlet Letter, Citizen Kane, or NCIS.

(2) a significant percentage of writers and performers are apparently seriously mentally ill. Now that they all feel free to lecture us about ethics, we are all discovering just how little they know beyond how to hit a mark and deliver a line. That they think we should care about their social opinions reveals just how Narcissistic and insulated from reality they really are. I increasingly see them not as sources of entertainment but as objects of pity, as sad, damaged people—were I counseling them the first thing I would want to discover is whether or how they were abused as children—very much in need of counseling and most importantly the work of grace in their hearts.

Earlier generations of Christians (e.g., the Dutch Reformed) were deeply suspicious of cinema and, later, television. The Baby-Boomers mocked them for it but perhaps the parents of the Boomers were intuitively right? After all, early cinema was unregulated and some of the first films to be made were graphic pornography. It seemed silly to to the Boomers to ban Father Knows Best and Leave It To Beaver (and perhaps it was) and hypocritical to have a television but to hide it when the minister came to visit. It was hypocrisy but it was also a sign of respect. Families were unwilling to defy openly the church. Maybe hiding the TV was a healthy sign of shame? Maybe the old Dutch Reformed were ahead of their time?

Yes, there are wonderful shows and films. Homicide: Life on the Streets, The Wire, and Morse are remarkable works of art and story telling but the perhaps latest marginal celebrity to announce her/his/their renunciation of biology, nature, and objective reality is also another indictment of those of us who continue to fund the “entertainment” business and who permit the insane to catechize us in their insanity?

I am not telling you what to do with your subscriptions or viewing habits but I am confessing my own misgivings.


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  1. My whole viewpoint on this has shifted 180 degrees from my earlier days. In fact I have repented from my old attitude of having negative attitudes toward those who held to standards in entertainment. I have long ago stopped all TV, and almost never watch any movies and my huge iTunes library lies dormant and covered in digital dust. My only real question is: have I gone too far? Am I now a nut-job extremist? I don’t even like it when I hear sermons and similar theological content making their points by adding in pop culture references or sports analogies. I strike all such things from my own personal writing as well. We are in a toxic world now, and it is a world that openly hates God and the things of God and soon the people of God. So some separation seems warranted, prudent, and possibly essential for sanctification.

    • Randy,

      Christian Liberty is also an essential truth. christians will come to different conclusions at different times. We need to be prepared to live with one another, in peace, in grace as we each work through these questions.

  2. Outstanding, RSC. My thoughts exactly. I’m like Randall.

    Where do you even go to find good fiction nowadays?

  3. May God graciously grant the covenant children we all homeschool and raise “under a rock” to use the mental stability they’ve gained from abstaining to cling to Christ for courage when they are inevitably mocked.

  4. My wife is 13 years younger than me, and early in our marriage it was an uphill battle to convince her that 1980s TV / movies were way better than the stuff from “recent years”. Fortunately, as things have gotten worse, the industry has made my arguments for me and I have emerged victorious in this debate. I have not yet convinced her to like action movies (she, too, likes mysteries: “Murder, She Wrote”, “Poirot”, etc.), but suppose there is always hope. We don’t watch often, but when we do it’s never something recent. Tubi is a great source of yesteryear’s second-stringers and while not everything on there is edifying, they do have Kirk Cameron’s “Left Behind” so I find myself entertained.

  5. Sad and damaged – but also predictable, boring, and unimaginative. My husband and I are re-reading Dorothy Sayers’ mysteries, and we marvel at the distance from cjoose-one-from-column-a-andtwo-from-column-b-and-preach-smugly-from- the-latest-cultural-cliff notes work lesser minds.

  6. Re-reading Toffler’s 1970 “Future Shock” made me realize how close to the ten-ring he predicted it. The disoriented, stressed, and just plain schizophrenic culture we now have has been caused, in part per Toffler, by “too much change (advancement in technology, social upheaval, etc.) over too short a period of time (accelerated in the 21st Century). These poor writers and actors just exacerbate the problem.

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