11 August 2011

Nothing worth watching . . .

You can read the article for yourself here, but in a nutshell the Supreme Court may rule on whether or not the FCC's indecency policy is "unconstitutionally vague".  According to some watch groups a ruling like this would open the floodgates for foul language and nudity on network television, no matter what time of the day it is.  That remains to be seen, but I am sure that a lack of constraint would eventually lead to a lack of responsibility on the part of the major networks, not that they have any now.  It certainly wouldn't happen all at once.

That's the way networks operate.  Little by little.  Take your favorite TV show - one you have watched for years.  I'll use Fox's House as an example.  I used to LOVE IT!  It was witty, suspenseful, original.  I couldn't get enough.  Christy and I watched it religiously for several years.  Now, I'm not saying it was ever the most wholesome family show, but next to most it wasn't bad.

I will never forget the time I finally convinced my parents and sisters to sit down and watch it with us.  We bragged about how great the show was and how it wasn't really that bad.  Well that was the episode where it got bad.  There were several scenes set in strip clubs, lots of drinking and vulgar language.  I was so embarrassed and so disappointed.  I felt a sense of loss.  Was I ever going to be able to watch my favorite show again?

They pulled back the reigns on the next few episodes.  But I noticed a trend; almost a formula.  The writers slowly started adding questionable content.  Every few weeks it would push the envelope a little further.  I also noticed that we were either so hooked on the show or becoming so desensitized that we kept on watching beyond where we should have drawn the line.  Eventually we did quit the show.

It isn't just House where I noticed this phenomenon.  The Office, Community, American Idol, Glee, 24, NFL Football and The Mentalist are all shows in which I noticed the same trend.  I do not believe this is by accident.  I believe this is how Hollywood and TV have operated for years and will continue to operate.  A ruling against the constitutionality of the FCC's indecency policy will speed things up for sure, but rest assured it's a direction we were heading in already.

By the way - you read right - I included the NFL in that list, and I'm not just talking about wardrobe malfunctions.  I'm talking about the clothing or should I say lack of clothing on the cheerleaders that is cause for most men to lust (which is adultery according to Jesus) to the Go Daddy and Victoria Secret commercials they show during their games.  The NFL is pushing the envelope any way they can, too.

Makes me think this TV fast may last a little longer than I planned.  It may take on a different form than it has now, but it could be here for the long haul.

Until next time what are you watching?

08 August 2011

Total Fail?

Alright I admit it.  This blog has been a FAIL.  I had high hopes of literary greatness as I documented my year without T.V., but alas those dreams have been shattered by my lack of creativity and discipline.  I don’t want to bore anyone (least of all myself) by posting pointless articles that simply repeat the same thing week after week.

I had lots of ideas for blog content when I set out to do this.  I had so many ideas that I was worried this could consume too much of my time.  You know what happened?  I didn’t write down a single idea.  FAIL.  As a result of this little misstep, I have learned to jot notes to myself the instant I have a thought or idea.

For those of you who actually care - I still have not watched T.V.  And as I type this I am just past the half way point of my goal of the Super Bowl on February 5 (181 days to go).  It has not been a real struggle except for last week when I was sick in stuck inside for 5 days. 

Now that football season is upon us, however, I can sense that it will become very difficult in the weeks to come.  The NFL lockout is over and sports talk radio is all a buzz with football chatter, which gives me the desire to watch football.  In fact, sports radio has made me want to watch football bad enough at the end of this month, that the thought has crossed my mind to give it up as well (at least for a short time).

I have a problem with this, though.  It feels like I am becoming pharisaical once I go down that road - legalistic - building one rule on top of another in order to protect myself from breaking a prior rule.  Therein lies one of my hesitations in doing this experiment in the first place - I don’t want to be judgmental or legalistic.  So, there is a fine line I must walk.  Maybe I’ll actually be diligent enough to let you know how my walk goes.

One question for you:  Have you built your own legalistic set of rules to live by?  In so doing you may be discounting the redemptive work of Christ on the cross.  Let’s make sure we are not trying to reach God by our good works, let us rather, praise God that HE pursues us despite our short comings!

01 May 2011

Getting Hard This Week . . .

Seriously . . .it’s a Monkey on a Dog!
Even though I have been too busy for my own good the past couple of weeks, It has been increasingly hard to stay away from the television.  While I am not a huge NBA fan, I do like the playoffs, which are underway right now.  Ever since David Robinson was drafted by the San Antonio Spurs, I have been a die hard fan.  He is a Christian athlete that I looked up to as a kid and my allegiance for him grew into a love for his team that I have had my whole life.  My home town is Memphis, though.  And since the Grizzlies moved to Memphis in 2001, they have been my team, with the Spurs a close 2nd.

The problem is that they are both in the Western conference.  This year the #1 seeded Spurs were up against the #8 seeded Grizzlies in the first round of the playoffs.  The Grizzlies took the first game on the road and that’s when it got tough for me.  I knew that something special was happening and I was going to miss it!  And I did!  In game six, at the FedEx Forum in Memphis, the Grizzlies made history, becoming only the 2nd 8th seed in NBA to beat a 1st seed in the playoffs.

I missed it!  By the Commercial Appeal’s, Geoff Calkins’ description, Friday night’s scene at the Forum was quintessentially Memphis:  "Friday night was all you needed to see. Friday night was this team, wrapped in one night. What exactly didn’t happen Friday at FedEx Forum?
Jerry Lawler made a second appearance. He pulled his strap down for all the country to see. There was a monkey riding on a border collie at one point, for no obvious reason.  The crowd was bonkers. But nervous, too.”  
There you go.  Memphis.  Redneck trying to be uptown.  Losers trying to be winners.  Little city trying to be big city.  It’s the city I love, and I missed it!  Oh, well.  Now to agonize through second hand accounts of their next series verses the Thunder.
Oh, and by the way, the NFL draft happened this past weekend, too.  I heard the Titan’s drafted Jake Locker.  
All of my difficulty with this just reminds me of how important TV and sports had become in my life and why I am doing all of this anyways.  Sometimes it’s good to be reminded of our weaknesses, even in painful ways.  C.S. Lewis said, "Unless Christianity is wholly false, the perception of ourselves which we have in moments of shame must be the only true one.”  I think that remembering our past weaknesses (or acknowledging our current ones) helps accomplish these moments of clarity.
Until next time, what are you watching?

26 April 2011

T.V. Withdraw: Monkey see, Monkey do . . .

T.V. Withdraw: Monkey see, Monkey do . . .: "I read a tweet by Dr. Jim Burns, President of HomeWord at Azusa Pacific University, the other day. He asked, 'What are your own media choic..."

Monkey see, Monkey do . . .

I read a tweet by Dr. Jim Burns, President of HomeWord at Azusa Pacific University, the other day.  He asked, "What are your own media choices teaching your children?"  That got me to thinking about what I have taught my children over the years through my TV habits.  Here is a quick list from 10 to 1 (pre tv fast): 

10:     There are very few things in life as important as your favorite show.
 9:      If it's on TV, it's okay to watch.  No matter what you believe.
 8:      If it's funny on TV, it's funny in real life.
 7:      If it's okay to say on TV, it's okay to say in real life.
 6:      No matter what is on, or what is happening around you, it's always a good time to watch TV.
 5:      The best thing to talk about with others is what you saw on TV the night before.
 4:      All other forms of information and/or entertainment are inferior to TV
 3:      Problems are all solved in 30-60 minutes, each with a happy ending.
 2:      You have to be skinny and beautiful and wealthy to matter.
 1:      Beer commercials are the funniest things in life.

Umm.  This list is depressing.  Worst than that, I believe if you were all really honest, you would have to admit to at least a few of these things being true in your own life.  It doesn't stop with TV.  Think about the music you listen to, the movies you watch, the books you read, etc.  We teach our children so much more by what we do rather than what we say.

Proverbs 17:6 says, "Children’s children are a crown to the aged, 
   and parents are the pride of their children."

I don't know about you, but I want to be the pride of my children for all the right reasons, and not any of the wrong ones.  

Until next time what are you watching?

09 April 2011

I Was Just Thinking . . .

I'm sorry it's been so long since I've written a new post.  Bottom line:  that productivity thing I talked about last time has a mind of it's own.  We have been non-stop.  I have realized, however, that I don't have to write a feature length article every time I post.  Whew!  I'm going to try to be more consistent, but the length will be a little less (I can hear the applause from all four of you who actually read this).

At the end of my last post I mentioned how not watching TV affected my thoughts.  I suppose I always knew that whatever we filled our mind with would somehow work its way into our everyday lives.  For example that song that gets stuck in your head and the book you're reading that you have to recommend.

Sitcoms and movies are like this, too.  Have you ever noticed how the kind of comedy we see on a screen tends to determine what we think is funny in real life?  If you're like me, you have quoted movies or shows that you think are funny in your everyday.  In fact, I see teenagers (especially guys) do this all the time.  How many of these "jokes" are edifying.  Most are raunchy or degrading or negative or all of the above.  Even if we don't repeat them, we think about them and giggle to ourselves.  At least, this describes what I have experienced personally.

This brings two verses to mind.  The first is Ephesians 5:4, "Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving."  It is much easier to obey this when I am not feeding my heart and mind with filth and crude joking.

The second is Matthew 12:34,  "For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks."  Our heart is filled with whatever we choose to fill it with.  Since I have stopped watching TV, I noticed that my heart is filled more with the things of God.  I don't read the Bible all night long, but I do read it more.  I read a lot of articles about theology and Christian perspective.  My christian walk has grown so much more since February.  I think it's because I am able to wrestle with the Bible and meditate on it. Most importantly, there is very little with which the Holy Spirit has to contend, so I hear God more clearly.

Hopefully it won't be a month until I write again, but until I do, What are you watchin'?

05 March 2011

Productivity . . .

The one thing that has surprised me so far about this little experiment is how little I am actually missing T.V.  When I was deciding whether or not to do this it was a real struggle.  Besides knowing that I would miss out on college football in the fall and every other major sporting event between now and then (ah!  just remembered The Master's) but there were several shows that I got real enjoyment out of that I would put in the safe to watch category.  Most of them were on Discovery, History or TLC.  I don't know why, but I felt a real attachment to the shows I watched.  It was very sad to think that I was no longer going to spend time with them.  Like they were my friends I was moving away.  I may sound crazy, but pick your favorite shows, the ones you are totally engrossed in and see if you wouldn't miss them.  It hasn't been all that bad, though.

The biggest opportunity that  has presented itself is a lot of "extra" time.  Last week, I told you about how the internet was starting to make it's move to take T.V.'s place.  I'm happy to let you know that my internet usage is at a safe, normal level and that I am not an addict.  I have found plenty of productive activities to fill my time.

It may not seem like it since this weeks post is a few days late, but without T.V. I definitely get more done. I am not going to detail my week for you,  but a lot was accomplished at home, and at work.

I can't wait to tell you about what has been occupying my thoughts lately, but that will have to wait a few days.  Until then - what you watchin'?

21 February 2011

FIll the Space . . .

Living in a rural area, there is not a lot to do to waste time.  TV however is the perfect time killer out here, until now.  We have now entered the world of high-speed internet.  That's right our little community has made it to the 21st century.  My home was graced with this little gem just over a week ago, which if you recall, is not long after I stopped watching TV.

You may already know where this is going.  I have spent a lot of time on the internet.  I'm not watching TV shows on the web, just surfing and facebooking and then facebooking a little more.  The other night Christy and I were sitting right next to each other and had to IM each other that it's time for bed.  Man are we messed up!

That reminded me of the question, "When you give something up, what takes its place?"  Addicts of all sorts deal with this dilemma.  Smokers turn to dip, dippers begin eating sunflower seeds, alcoholics take up golf and fat people, well as a fat person, I haven't figured that one out yet.  You get the point.  While this is not a complete media fast, I don't want to just slide from 2 to 3 hours of TV per night to 2 to 3 hours of internet per night.  To me, that is pointless.

As I said when I first started this, its an experiment.  Here is a variable that wasn't a part of my original hypothesis.  Now I have to deal with it.  I don't know how yet, but I'm going to take the next week to figure it out.

I do know this, I want more of GOD, and I believe that's why this new obstacle has presented itself.  I'll let you know how its going next week.  Suggestions Welcome.

15 February 2011

1 Down 51 To Go. . .

Alright.  I've done it.  One week without T.V. (well, almost . . .more on that in a minute). I suppose its not that big of a deal.  51 weeks from now will be a big deal, if i can manage.  There are a few things I noticed this week.  Here's my top ten:

1)  T.V. is virtually unavoidable in our society.  I mean it is everywhere.  The doctor's office, the bank, restaurants, on your phone, computer, above urinals on bathrooms.  So, know this - I will see T.V. this year - can't help it, but I will not watch it.  There is a big difference.

2)  T.V. is a very useful tool.  I realize that the last statement in point one needs to be clarified.  This past week there was winter weather moving into my area.  I had a Wednesday night church service and a Thursday night seminar involving over a hundred people for which I was responsible.  I kept checking the internet, but when people were telling me what the news was saying it didn't match-up to the internet.  So, I watched the weather.  Nothing beyond that.  There will be times when I watch the weather.  Our area is a tornado super-highway, so this spring when severe weather is threatening, I will be watching.

3)  I have read more.  Right now I am reading a biography on Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  It's good!

4)  I help my kids with their homework more.

5)  I eat less.

6)  I am exercising.  (this list is making it sound like I was a selfish, curmudgeony, sloth a week ago.  I wasn't.  I swear.)

7)  The rest of my household is watching much less T.V.

8)  Christy and I talk more. (Honestly, communication has never been an issue anyway).

9)  I'm not quite as anxious to get the kids to bed (but I still look forward to it - I need quiet time).

10)  I am not sure how long these trends will last.

There you have it!  The top ten things I notice after just one week without T.V.  

By the way, please click to "follow" the blog.  It just lets me know I'm not talking to myself.

07 February 2011

Here it goes - No TV for 1 year

So, I guess I’m going to do this.  Give up T.V.  For some reason I don’t feel convinced.  But, I must admit that it’s something I felt I should do for a while.  It really started out of a conviction that T.V. or what was on it or a combination of the two had become a god in my life – I had to have it.

It started specifically with University of Tennessee football.  I do love those Vols!  I had taken the time to put every game for two years on my calendar and as soon as the time for the game was announced I put that in too.  Nothing wrong with that, right?  It gets worse.  I then planned everything else in my life around those games.  I know a lot of men in America do this exact thing, but it was becoming uncomfortable, like the tag on your favorite shirt rubbing the back of your neck the wrong way.  You love the shirt so you don’t want to change, but the constant rubbing leaves a knot in your stomach.

That irritability manifested itself in my attitudes as well.  If I was out with my family and it was getting close to game time, I would begin to rush everyone along (not advisable with five children).  The more I pushed, the more I frustrated my family.  The more they got frustrated the more irritated I became.  Don’t even get me started on how I acted if someone interrupted my game watching.  You get the picture. 

Finally, I felt like God gave me a smack on the back of the head, the kind you give your siblings when they says something stupid, and said, “Eric!  It’s a game!  What does it benefit you if they win, or cost you if they lose?”  So, I did not watch the first 3 games of the season this year.  After that I typically only had the game on in the background with the sound off.  The only game I watched all the way through was the Music City Bowl.

Is there anything wrong with watching football?  No.  There was something wrong with the importance it had in my life.

Next thing I know I am beginning to wonder about all the T.V. shows I watch.  They didn’t really carry the importance of football (unless it was Jim and Pam’s wedding on The Office).  But what was I getting from them?  What am I feeding my head?  More importantly, what am I feeding my heart?  Philippians 4:8 kept popping up like a weed in my head.  I would pluck it with my excuses and it would spring back up and spread.  It says this,  “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things” What shows was I watching that fit each and everyone of those descriptions?

There you go.  That’s how I came to this point.  I may not completely succeed, but it’s not about that.  It’s about taking something that was not edifying me spiritually and replacing it with things that are.  Things that will help me and those around me to grow in Christ.  We can figure what that is together, if you want to help.  SUGGETIONS WELCOME. Here goes nothing.

02 February 2011

An Experiment

I'm not the first.  To not watch T.V., that is.  People go without TV all the time.  Some by choice, others out of their lack of resources.  I think about my High School German teacher, Frau Haliburton.  She did not have cable or really watch TV.  I couldn't imagine that.  She said they had one small TV and a VCR (dating myself aren't I), but it wasn't used much.  There are millions like her, I'm sure.

As I  think about it, I realize how rich we are in America.  The fact that there would be any novelty at all for someone to forgo TV, when there are millions who cant even watch TV, let alone own one, just shows how dependent on the media Americans have become.

I will begin on Monday, February 7, 2011 and not watch again until Super Bowl 46 in 2012.  One year without TV.  Nothing Earth shattering, but something that most Americans would not do.

Why do this?  There are a number of reasons I will hash out over the course of the year, but for now lets say its because it dominates so much of my time.  I don't like that.  I am not doing this to say, "Look at me!  I'm not watching TV."  Nor am I going to belittle everyone still watching TV.  I'm not trying to preach (although I'm sure I will be preachy at times, it's what I do).  This is just an experiment that I thought would be fun to share and document.  The experiment could fail after one week, or I may make it the entire year.  Let's see together.

On Monday - I set the ground rules.  See you then.