Monday, March 14, 2011

Constant Exposure

Eighteen years ago, in 1993, Denise and I made a decision one afternoon that changed our lives. Actually, it was in the evening, after the five o’clock news. We had eaten dinner, and then mindlessly watched the news as they talked about the weather, sports and the stupid behavior of celebrities. After we turned off the television, we started talking about what a waste of time it had been. Then we just expanded to how much of a waste of time, which meant life, that watching television was in general. At this time, we had three children four and below in the house. Denise said that she had watched Oprah that afternoon, and afterwards decided that a nap would have been a better use of time.

Now we were not a television family, watching hours upon hours a day. We limited our kids viewing to the Disney afternoon (we did not have cable) and we would watch the news and maybe something else together at night. We probably watched less than two hours a day.

But we decided that was too much. Life was too short to waste on knowing about the worldd’s dumbest celebrities or who won a sports game, or what the weather was like three thousand miles way. That night, we disconnected the antennae (it was 1993) and stopped watching television.

That was, in my opinion, at least in the top three if I list the best decisioins that I have ever made. We got back our two hours a day, fourteen hours a week, sixty hours a month, 720 hours a year, and almost 13,000 hours or us time later we are still…or were…still accumulating time away from the tube. The benefits have been tremendous. Now remember, this had nothing to do with morality or spirituality. It was simply this. This is the question that we used, and actually still use: “Is this beneficial to my life and/or family? Is this the wisest use of my time, or could I be doing something better?”

In the words of Denise, “A nap is more beneficial than watching Oprah.” So we quit watching television.

We also quit being exposed to Madison Avenue Marketing. A great way to illustrate this is at Chrstimas time and Birthdays. Our children never have an idea of what they want to get. We ask them for gift ideas, and they cannot think of anything. As a family, we don’t feel cheated because we don’t have what the tv says everyone either has or should have.

Fastforward to now. We came back to visit the States, and I felt that we were a little out of touch with American culture, so we started watching television. Once more, we do not watch any ‘questionable’ shows.

Yesterday my daughter Hope came to me as I was paying bills on-line. She asked me if I had car insurance, and I said that I did. She then, with full confidence in her opinion said, “Progressive looks good, but Geico has a lot to offer as well.”

Understand that she does not even know what insurance is! What has happened? We saw this at Christmas time as well. Our children went from not having an idea last year, and of being grateful for getting a box of Pop Tarts (true story) to having a wish list that would make Toys R Us jealous.

Exposure. That is what happened. They have been bombarded by ideas and opinions to the point that the ideas and opinions have become their own.

I was thinking about this and thought, “This is EXACTLY what God tells us to be in community!” God wants us to be a part of a group that shares His beliefs. He wants us to be exposed, constantly, to His truth. This is why we teach our children as we stand, walk and lie down. It is a constant exposure to the Son.

We are to be with people that push God’s agenda the same way that Progressive sells insurance to a nine year old. By constantly reinforcement of the idea.

This is one of the reasons that you should go to church. It is a reason that you should have a close Christian community. It is why we should prioritize our relationships above individual pursuits like computer games, shopping or television. In Christian community, we will rub off on each other. We will nudge each other towards Jesus. We will share our wish list of virtues with each other.

We help each other.

That is church.

That is Christian community.

That is what we need.