One of the most difficult side effects of my chemotherapy has been a condition known as “chemo brain”. Some people scoff at this “excuse”, assuming cancer patients are blaming chemo for their forgetfulness. Trust me, it’s real. It is hard to lose all sense of focus, forget the simplest of words, and be unable to put two sentences together in a legible fashion. It is a struggle… and I am a deep thinker. I love to bury myself in books that challenge me. If I am going to watch a movie, I want it to have a purpose to it. And if I watch television, it needs to be more than crude humor and sexual innuendo. I want something well-written, thought-provoking… something to challenge my mindset.
You can imagine how difficult the past few weeks have been for me. The physical pain and exhaustion from my treatments often leave me with hours of just lying in bed unable to do anything… definitely nothing focused going on! My dismay has only increased as I turn on the TV looking for something to fill my time that doesn’t require “work”. I haven’t watched daytime television in years, and let’s not get me started on the prime-time trash that’s out there… nightly soap operas focused on who’s cheating on or sleeping with whom, off-color comedy, and let’s see how belittling we can be to men in our culture of feminism.
But I digress… in the space of 2 hours (I’m embarrassed to admit I even wasted that much time) of flipping around trying to find something mildly entertaining, I was apalled at the mind-numbing drivel that fills the airwaves or soundwaves or whatever it’s called (see, chemo brain is real). Here’s a taste:
First, there’s Regis and Kelly. Okay, I actually didn’t see them that day, but I’ve watched them enough in waiting rooms over the past 2 months. Let’s spend 20 minutes talking about ourselves, then we can spend 15 more talking about who’s hot and who’s not on the red carpet. Why? Why do we spend so much time obsessed with beauty and with belittling those who we don’t think are beautiful? We are all created in the image of God… all of us!
Other drivel I subjected myself to–20 minutes of The Tyra Banks Show where the discussion was on the new word of our culture, “frenemies”. This is girl friends who compete constantly with each other. So Tyra has them compete on her show–who can get the most hot guys in an hour to meet them at a bar? Who has the higher IQ? Who has the stronger emotional IQ? Sigh. Who cares? Instead, let’s teach them what friendship really is.
The other shows I only saw previews of, thank goodness, but here’s the list. Maury Povich “Caught On Tape”… Montel Williams “Psychic Connections” with some chain smoking psychic who claims to hear people from the other side. I wonder when someone is going to tell her to quit smoking. Then there’s Jerry Springer (I had no clue he was still on), whose preview this week was on clowns–yes, people actually dressed up as clowns–who were cheating on each other and smacking each other all around the stage. All I could do is sigh deep sighs.
Oh, and Oprah, who I’ll admit can bring some fascinating topics, guests, etc. to her show. However, she is so self-absorbed that she continually interrupts her guests and rudely has to say what she has to say no matter what. Must be nice to have such power.
It saddens me. The problem is it defines so much of our culture, and we, in turn, allow so much of our culture to define us. It is scary to talk to high school and college students today, and see just how much television defines their reality. “But that’s the way it is on Grey’s or Desperate Housewives or ER.” Small town courtrooms are expecting impossible evidence because it looks so easy on CSI. Why do we allow TV to define us?
I submit two reasons… although I know there are many more. First, we are discontent. Our lives are not satisfying to us, so we look to other realities in which to escape. Secondly, we fail to be defined by God. We fail to define our culture and television by the Word, and we buy into the lies of our culture instead of seeking to redeem it. So often we make what we want the basis of what we believe or how we act… it is then we become followers of culture rather than followers of Christ. I am saddened by how our culture is affecting Christians, rather than Christians impacting and redeeming our culture. I don’t mean an “in your face” impact, I mean through integrity.. by really making a difference in lives through loving others.
Yes, I still watch some TV… there is entertainment there, and it does make me think sometimes. But what makes me think more is God and Who He is, and in Him I’ve found my relief from the drivel of daytime television. On those days when I can’t read or write or think, I can still hear. Sound travels in darkness and in light. I can listen to John Piper’s sermons (desiringgod.org) or download old sermons by our former pastor, Phil, two deep thinkers who aren’t afraid to speak against our culture and speak the truth of the Word. And I am blessed with the thought of God.
If you read history, you will find that the Christians who did the most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the slave trade, all left their mark on Earth precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in’: aim at earth and you will get neither. (C.S. Lewis)