Archive | January, 2013

Entertainment and pleasure

11 Jan

I starting writing about pleasure because it seemed like whenever I had was on a break or had significant down time, I always resorted back to watching t.v. or playing video games to amuse myself. For the first week or so, it was all fun. I enjoyed being able to do what I wanted to do when I wanted to do. I would catch up on t.v. shows, watch some movies, and play some video games. While I was still in the Philippines, reading books was also one of my favorite pastimes. Unfortunately my books are in the Philippines while I am in America. Moving on, after the initial weeks, I usually began to question my purpose during those times. It became like the first weeks were a time of relaxation after a long period at school. Once the first weeks were over, I would began to want to go back to school, usually just to see my friends. I always seemed to want to be around people. I have never questioned pleasure in the context of spending times with others. I have always seen interaction with others to be something inherent in human nature. Not only would I be enjoying pleasure, but I would also be building up relationships with others. The only times I start question the purpose of pleasure, are when I am isolated and separated from friends. When those times come, I usually seek entertainment from whatever I can find. Books, t.v., Facebook, news articles, video games etc. I tried to escape my sense of loneliness but distracting myself with pleasurable activities. But after a while, pleasure gets old. I would get bored with a particular video game, the t.v. show would reach the end of the season, or I would just plain miss interaction with friends. Instead of doing something about my boredom in the long run, I usually would just find some other game to play or book to read. However, when school started back up and I had work to do, that is usually when I started to question the purpose of pleasure the most. I would look back to break and wonder if I did anything meaningful with my time. What use was it to watch all those shows or read up on current affairs? Why should I be allowed to own and iPod when others worry about not starving? I would start to feel guilty about pleasure. I felt like I had been wasting my time doing what I wanted to do instead of helping others. Yet, I never changed. School would quickly give me work to do and by the time break rolled around again, I would go right back to enjoying pleasure. So where does that leave me now? I understand some issues surrounding pleasure but still seek answers for others. I understand that God wants us to enjoy life. That pleasure is not inherently bad. Sometimes we need rest and relaxation to be ready for the trials to come. Now it is a question of how do glorify God while enjoying pleasure? It seems like almost all of entertainment in today’s society contains some measure of sin. For me personally, I struggle with the sexual innuendos and nuances in entertainment today. Shows that are certainly funny but I have trouble watching include The Office, The Big Bang Theory, or even Bones. The shows contain some innocent humor, but it seems like most of the time they just wallow around in moral filth. Movies are no better. While some great movies are out there, I wonder where we as Christians should draw the line. Should we only go watch movies that don’t make us stumble? Does watching a move that takes the Lord’s name in vain edify our Lord? Does spending time with friends justify filling our head with vulgar language from a movie? Or as I once read, are we willing to eat a brownie that has a tiny bit of poo in it? What is crap in movies today? How much ungodly elements can we take before it is too much? I do not have the answer to this question. A friend of mine will not watch movies if God’s name is used in connection with the word damn. I know others who seem to watch very little movies at all. Then I have friends that seem to watch every movie they feel like as long as they just skip the sex scenes. All of those methods have their pros and cons, but I feel like I still have not found a solution. I do not think we can cut out all entertainment. As much as I think it might be the obvious and simplest solution, by cutting out entertainment we lose some of out important connections with the world. Americans seem to love their pop culture. There are few pockets of people who live amazing lives without knowing much about pop culture. However, as someone who grew up in a country other than America, coming back I realize how my knowledge of pop culture has helped me establish friendships with others. I was an MK who grew up being able to stay up to date with American culture and news. I followed College Football and enjoyed watching NFL. I did not care for soccer and lived in a country that idolized basketball. I was blessed to be able to play sports like volleyball, tennis, and ultimate frisbee. During my first semester at college, I learned to blend in and look American. I did it almost unconsciously. I enjoyed watching That 70s show with friends in my dorm. I introduce a friend to the show The Finder. I joined the frisbee team as well as speech and debate. I am not an MK whose first language is not English, nor do I feel superior towards Americans. Well not most of the time. My point in all of this is that I grew up enjoying entertainment the same way many Americans did. My family followed several t.v. shows and had our favorite movies. I know MKs who did not grow up around American entertainment that seem to have a harder time adjusting to American culture. A lot of small talk can be focused on entertainment sometimes. I recall conversations in my college cafeteria about the Legend of Zelda games where I felt lost. Yet in another conversation about the old shows we used to watch as kids, Hey Arnold, All That, The Rugrats, and The Wild Thorenberry show were all know to me whereas the American next to me did not watch any of those growing up. For MKs who do not grow up in similar ways to Americans, we try to connect with Americans in any way we can. That is why I do not think we can just avoid all sources of media altogether. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23

“19 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.”

To become all things to all people we need to be able to relate with others without compromising our morals. I do not have the answer yet, but I will continue to explore this topic probably as long as I live.