Tuesday, November 29, 2005

TV Part I

From the time I was 3 or so, I was raised without TV. No cable, no network channels, no movies, no videos. Film was an almost non-existent part of my growing up.

It was one of the best choices my parents made. I didn’t miss TV. I watched a movie every so often at someone else’s house and enjoyed it, but TV wasn’t something I craved. I had more fun and creative things to do. I loved to read and read hundreds, probably thousands, of books. I wrote, drew, played imaginative games with my brothers and sisters, and learned crafts like sewing, embroidery, knitting, spinning, and quilting. I took care of the animals on our little homestead and wrote letters.

I was spared the gradual hardening that comes with watching shows that become ever more casual toward evil, more graphic in violence and sex, more disrespectful toward authority, more antagonistic to Christianity, more objectifying of women, more disdainful of men, month after month, year after year. And to be honest, I think I was also spared a lot of stress. TV is so much a part of most of our lives, I don’t think we realize how stressful it is to be inundated with the drama of the lives played there, or how over-burdened our minds become with the intensity of what we see on the screen. The first time I saw Star Wars I felt such sensory overload that I couldn’t sleep. The same goes for the negativity in the news. I’m all for being informed, but we weren’t meant to see the same horrible images, hear the same horrible reports, replayed again and again and again. It wears on the soul, especially of a child.

When Billy and I got married we lived so far out in the country that we didn’t even get the fuzziest network channel, and our local video store had a very limited selection. We watched a movie every now and then, mostly miscellaneous films that Billy had somehow accumulated during his bachelor years. For awhile we tried Sky Angel Christian programming, but it was for the most part so unappealing that we cancelled after a few months.

(On an aside, I’ve heard it lamented that Christian films and television are typically so poor quality, so cheesy, that they probably drives unbelievers away. It’s sad that non-Christians reflect more of the creative nature of God than His own children do, as a rule, at least in the arts. Of all people, His should be the most creative, the most artistic, the most able to reflect His glory before the culture. I hope the tide will turn, or maybe is slowly turning, in that direction. I’ve heard that Sky Angel is much better now than it was those years ago.)

Once we moved, we had more available and watched movies more often. Usually during football season we get rabbit ears so Billy can catch a game or two on the networks. Every now and then we turn on the TV and catch another show. It usually takes only a few times before both Billy and I have seen enough garbage that we are ready to put a hammer through the TV. It’s become a standing joke because I know that sometime before winter’s end we will get so disgusted that the rabbit ears will go into the trash—again.

As a rule, the kids don’t watch TV at all. They have seen a couple episodes of Clifford, some holiday specials, the Rose Bowl Parade, and of course football. They watch Boomerang at their grandparents’. Mostly we stick to movies, and I try to keep that to one 30 minute Bible movie a day. (My goal is to make it more like one a week.) Even with that limited fare, I can see how easy it would be for them to become addicted to TV.

It’s a sacrifice. Play dough, drawing, and puzzles are messier than TV. Reading aloud, playing board games, and letting them help me as I work takes more time than TV. But it’s worth it. I try to keep in mind how much more creative they will be, how many more things they will know how to do, how much better our relationships will be, and the early influences they’ll be spared if I keep them from most TV.

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