Amusing Ourselves to Death

3020466221_8e13fd3d8dIn Mind Renewal in a Mindless Age, author James Boice writes of an academic study written by Neil Postman entitled Amusing Ourselves to Death. In this study, Postman presented a contrast between the written word and visual media (such as TV and movies).  He states that when we read something, it requires us to really think – to analyze, re-read and focus.  We look up words we don’t understand and increase our vocabulary.  He concludes that the more people read, and do so with thoughtfulness and purpose, the better they think.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve noticed I’m surrounded by a lot of people who don’t know how to think.  I like to think.  I wish more people around me desired to cultivate “thinking.”

While Postman wrote this study back in 1985, it’s obvious to most of us that the situation has deteriorated even further as the reach and grasp of the visual media has choked our throats and strangled our minds with their ideology.   Refusing to use our minds affects us spiritually.  It affects us culturally.  It wins elections because people remain in ignorance and blindly choose to follow charismatic leaders who never really give their minds anything to think about.  People embrace easy-believism with open arms and minds because……they aren’t thinking.

Postman quoted Ronald Reagan as saying, “Politics is just like show business.” How true!  The very nature of show business does not reward virtues like honesty, integrity, and the pursuit of excellence.  It seeks sensationalism.  It seeks to distort a possibly more true view by offering its own preferred view.  The fact is, we have allowed ourselves to become ignorant by trusting what the media dangles before our eyes, more often than not watching with interest images that are filled with intrigue, persuasive opinions and intentionally misleading edits.

We do this in our Christian walk also, don’t we?  The media promotes the Joel Osteen’s and Joyce Meyer’s of the land with awe and wonder.  Savvy editors produce pieces which tickle our ears and ignite our eyes with untruths that are represented as truths because they sell better than way — they make more money.  We have been led to believe by the Barna’s of this world that the audience matters much more than the Maker and His own written truth.  We have been misled to believe that bigger (in the size of mega-churches) is better because more people are in the house — when in fact, the opposite is probably true.  Bigger is not better if error and distortion has been allowed to creep in.

Boice goes on to comment that ‘your mind matters!” I couldn’t agree with him more.  If you do not engage your mind you cannot understand the deep things of God – his holiness, our response in worship, God’s sovereignty……things essential and necessary in the understanding of an accurate, biblical Christian faith.  The Jesus we see must be the biblical Jesus, not a media-driven reincarnation of a false image whom. others have created for us.

Boice isn’t the only one who told us to use our minds.  Paul appeals to us to use our mind.  Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Why should we renew our minds?  So that we may discern God’s will.  We must renew our minds with God’s words, not man’s words.  God does not ask us to blindly follow.  Our faith has substantiated substance.  If you only listen to media-driven, culturally-relevant preachers — if you fully trust the words they say instead of reading God’s words in the Bible for yourself (in context historically and scripturally), then you risk error.  You risk deception.  If you seek the excitement of a media driven church instead of seeking the teaching of a biblical-based expository church, you risk deception.

I can’t say it any better than this:

2 Corinthians 11:3-4 But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.  For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.     2 Corinthians 11:12-15 And what I do I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do.  For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.  And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.  So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.

Aren’t you tired of not thinking?  Try to take time to think today — about God — about your country — and who is influencing your mind.  Allow God to influence your mind — not the media.  Your mind is a protection for you and a gift from the Heavenly Father above.

Image by Irish Wildcat (Creative Commons Attribution License)


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