The headline caught my attention not because it’s the biggest news story of the day, but because I have friends and family who live and work in this area, so it was a matter of concern for me. The story is relatively mundane (hey, it’s life in the Junction!), but one line in particular startled me.
When speaking of the ‘neighbourhood bully’ who has been forced by the courts to move, one man offered this profound theological insight:
“The law can’t force a person to love thy neighbour,” John Ritchie said. “But the law can stop the conduct and this behaviour.”
Wow! Unless this man is a pastor, theologian, or mature believer, I think he probably spoke better than he knew. This is biblical truth.
My wife, the ever-astute-observer-of-everything, made a very interesting observation the other day while we were watching TV (which, of course, preaches truth unwittingly). Her observation was simple but profound: There is a large dichotomy between the way our culture counsels people in our day-to-day lives and what our culture values in the heroes of our stories.
In this particular instance we were watching the show Jericho. The contrast between the heroes and villains is stark: the heroes sacrifice themselves for others while the villains and creeps only care about themselves. While we witnessed this in Jericho, it’s a pretty safe assumption that this principle holds true in whatever show you happen to be watching.
What’s fascinating about the identification of heroes & villains along these lines in TV shows is that much of the way we’re counselled to live in real life is ‘do what makes you happy’ and ‘look out for number 1.’ To draw out the contrast, think about this: if people actually lived according to those rules and their lives were broadcast, they would actually be making themselves the villains.
The other day Stacey and I had some family friends over. Since the day was hot and the kids had been outside for the whole day we wanted to give them some ‘down time’ in the basement, where it was cool and they could calm down for a little.
I suggested a couple of the DVDs that we had, but there was no consensus among the children. Then one of the kids just said, ‘Let’s watch something on Netflix!’ I don’t know why it surprised me. After all, our own kids watch things on Netflix fairly regularly, but coming from a child in another family it just hit me how quickly kids become familiar with new technology and new opportunities for entertainment.
Apparently kids aren’t alone, either. Last month (June 2012), Netflix streamed over 1 billion hours of programming into households around the world. That is a lot of entertainment. it puts Netflix at the forefront of all entertainment products and providers in our world today.
The Evolution of Entertainment Eliminates Waiting
Remember cassette tapes? Remember how we used to have try to fast forward and rewind to find our songs? Remember the frustration of getting a video from the rental store, only to find out that the last person had not remembered to ‘be kind and please rewind’? How frustrating to have to wait to watch your movie while the tape rewound! Or how about watching TV shows before PVRs? Remember when we used to have to wait for commercials to be done instead of just fast-forwarding through them?
So technology advanced and with the advent of DVDs and CDs there was no more rewinding. No more waiting. And with PVRs, even waiting through those little breaks in the middle of your entertainment is removed.
And Netflix is the next stage in that entertainment evolution that eliminates the ‘weak gene’ of waiting. Any show, any movie, any time, no waiting. Continue reading
We are copycats. In one sense, we can’t help it. We were created to be image bearers, reflecting the likeness of the one who designed us.
But you don’t have to live long before you learn that there are respectable kinds of copying and there are dishonest kinds. If I’m writing out a thought, for example, and cite the authors and sources that inspired me, I honour them. If, however, I use someone else’s work and don’t give them credit then I am an idea-thief and I dishonour the original writer.
Gospel on Prime-Time TV
Hasn’t it ever struck you as funny that the TV shows and movies which make the biggest impact sound somewhat familiar? From Jack Bauer to Batman, hero after hero must sacrifice himself in a noble way, be misunderstood, and ultimately ‘die’ alone. (In the case of Batman, he even ‘rises again’ as we’re about to see in theatres.)
Even the recent conclusion of the TV series House, MD wrapped up with none other than the oft-misunderstood Gregory House ‘laying down his life for his friend.’ And this is supposed to be original? For those who endured the four seasons of the should-have-been-one-season series Prison Break, you saw that in the end the hero (who already had to enter into his brother’s prison to save him) finally had to pay the ultimate price and give his life for his friends.
Is it good to take stock of our sin? Should we meditate on it and measure it against God and against the sins of others? Is it right to pay that much attention to sin? I think the answer is both yes and no, depending on how you do it.
Measuring Against God
The kingdom is given to those who are poor in spirit, humble, broken, mourning, and contrite over their sin (Matt 5.3-5). This only comes from rightly evaluating yourself before the throne of a holy God. Before we find any good in the gospel, we must find the bad (Is 6.1-7; Is 66.1-2). God is holy and we are not. Our sin, measured against his purity, means we are filthy before him (Is 64.6).
Measuring against God is a good place to start. It makes us realize our need for a Saviour who will take all our sin and pay all our guilt (Is 53.4-6). Continue reading