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Monday, April 03, 2006 

Resolved: Read More, Watch T.V. Less

I was involved in a discussion over at The Joseph Kennedy Experiment regarding a new Christian alternative to MySpace. During the discussion Joe Kennedy made the point that the sexually provocative ads, and even profiles, found on MySpace are really no different from what people see on television. He made a good point here and while I agreed that he was right, I pointed out that we should not allow our children, if humanly possible, to be exposed to such things regardless of the outlet. And I further suggested that we, as adult Christians, should limit our exposure as well. But I have to admit that lately I have not been following my own advice. I must make a confession: I watch too much television. I am exposing myself to sexually provocative ads, to profanity-laced television programs, and to a culture that makes normative those things the Bible calls heinous and immoral. Recently, as I was scanning various Christian blogs, I came across one in which the author noted his affinity for the hit television show Grey's Anatomy, but admitted that he felt conflicted as he found himself hoping certain individuals in the show would "get together" forcing one to cheat on his wife and then get a divorce and the other to be complicit in the former's adultery. I must admit as well that I have had similar feelings of conflict watching various television shows in which the protagonist must choose between sins rather than between what is right and wrong.

Because of these thoughts, I have come to the realization that I must turn off the television and begin reading again. Very little knowledge of the world, or of history, or of God is had by watching mindless programs that are set in unreal situations. Real knowledge comes through intential learning and through personal experience. I have enough personal experience right now as I wade through the cesspool that is the public school system, still hoping to find signs of life. What I really need is to broaden my mind though reading. So, I have chosen several books over the next couple of months. Among them are:
  1. Game of Shadows : Barry Bonds, BALCO, and the Steroids Scandal that Rocked Professional Sports.
  2. 1776.
  3. The Secret Message of Jesus : Uncovering the Truth that Could Change Everything.
  4. Manhunt : The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer.
  5. The Catcher in the Rye.
  6. Churchill : A Life.

While those are not in the particular order in which I plan to read them, I am currently reading Game of Shadows and hope to have a review up in a couple of days. In the interest of discussion let me know what books you think I should add to this list and what books you have been reading lately (and whether or not you would recommend them).

Kudos. I could get a lot more done if I didn't watch TV.

Can I add a book to your list, just for the fun of it? Consider re-reading (or reading) Mere Christianity over the week of your birthday. It's something I'm reading now, but will do again come the week of July 25th. It's what one of my undergrad profs does, and I think it's a good idea.

Excellent thoughts, Daniel. I read "1776" a few months ago and I'm about two-thirds of the way through "Game of Shadows" right now. Both are good choices.

Joe, good suggestion on Mere Christianity. I started reading it years ago, but never finished. I will have to do so eventually.

Tim, I just finished Game of Shadows a few moments ago, coincidentally there is a reference at the end to April 3, 2006, Opening Day for the Giants. I am floored by the overwhelming evidence against Bonds and Jones, both of which refuse to admit their usage of banned substances. Definately a book worth my time.

I just finished Manhunt & thoroughly enjoyed it. I would like to read 1776 but heard it was McCullough's dryest book. Word on the street is that Truman is McCullough's best book.
I just finished Questioning Evangelism by Randy Newman. Great read! It is a must read for all Christians.
I'm about half way through Pearcey's Total Truth - another must read!
Enjoy :)

John Mark,

I heard that 1776 wasn't as good as Truman, but of course he won the Pulitzer for the latter, so it's kind of hard to top. If I like 1776 I plan on moving on to reading the rest of his books, so Truman will definitely be on the list in the future. As for Newman's book, I hadn't heard of it, but will check it out. I haven't read anything on evangelism in a while and that may be worth considering. Thanks for the tips and tell everyone at Shively Heights we said hey. And BTW, I agree with you on the weather thing in your latest post -- I wanted to throw coasters at the TV this weekend I was getting so annoyed (and half of the weather reports dealt with counties outside of the viewing area! Argh!).

I *loved* 1776. In fact, I preferred it to Truman.

DR,

You know anyone taking on a reading list excites me! I know you will love this reading adventure!! I was a bit sad after reading your "to read" list. You know I am a lover of the classics and they were missing!! So I will add a few.

Red Badge of Courage ~ Stephen Crane (This book made me reprent before a Holy God of my selfishness and pride. It's about a soldier in the civil war.)

Watership Down ~ Richard Adams (It is about talking rabbits but deals with a great deal of social issues. Give it a try!)

Robinson Crusoe ~ Daniel Defoe (Shipwrecked man's spiritual journey, beautiful story)

Recently I have read two books by Chaim Potok (The Chosen and The Promise, they go together). They were great. Learned a lot about Judaism. He's modern, but I loved it.

And one last one. My absolute favorite ~ Jane Eyre ~ Charlotte Bronte. It's kinda girly but she is a wonderfully developed character. Read it, you just might like it!

Sorry for going on, but these are great books that one should not keep to oneself.

Talk to you soon, Theresa

I just finished reading Amusing Ourselves to Death. It was a great read about the dangers of television and can be read in only a few sittings (so you can get back to the telly soon).
I just started To Know and Love God by David Clark, while a lot of it has been review I enjoy his writing and he's got some pretty good things to say to evangelicals regarding the way they do theology.
I love reading books (sigh).
- Sean

DL--

My TV is in my closet and has been there for a couple months. Prior to that it sat languishing on my entertainment center, bereft of cable or an antennae--and so got little use. Heck, I don't even own a DVD player. (My VCR's in the closet, too.)

You won't miss TV. Not that much. And life is a lot more interesting without it. It's a lot of fun to say to people at work who ask if you've seen the latest realityshowtvseriesepisodeetc, "I have absolutely no idea what you're blathering on about. I don't watch TV." The usual question is, "Never?"

That's right. Never. Don't miss it at all.

I agree with Theresa: your reading list left a lot to be desired. I only say that because you're a wuss who won't try sashimi. And because your taste in books sucks. No, wait. It...sucks. Wait. Sucks. Okay. It's just different than mine.

How 'bout Silence, by...um, some Japanese guy...about the persecution of Catholic missionaries in 18th C Japan. How 'bout Thornton Wilder's The Bridge of San Luis Rey, about the theological implications of natural disasters--and, currently, my favorite novel of all time.

Anyways.

Happy reading.

CKS

Hey D.R.,

Don't let anyone give you grief about your reading list. BTW, I thought "Catcher in the Rye" would qualify as a classic.

A little light reading is good for ya'. I've been on a C.S. Lewis kick lately. Let me recommend Out of the Silent Planet. It's fun reading (science fiction), but it also raises some social/theological questions worth pondering.

My book reading's been on hold while I catch up on some periodicals. I've been pleasantly surprised by how much I've enjoyed Fortune (magazine).

I've interrupted reading The Weight of Glory, and on deck are Celebration of Discipline and The Screwtape Letters. And, I've been thinking about pulling out a book I started many years ago but never finished: Prisoner's Dilemma. And, perhaps I'll check out Watership Down from Theresa's list.

Talking rabbits...hmmmm....

tva

Umm...Since Catcher in the Rye was (may still be) banned in most public libraries , I don't think it deserves to be called a "classic." It's shady and I would stay away! How about reading To Kill a Mockingbird instead! There's you a classic!

Happy Reading, Theresa

Wish I had gotten in on this one earlier, sorry I'm behind on my reading (blogs) as well. But I noticed not one person stood up to even slightly defend T.V. and I don't blame them, it's a tough side to get on.

I'm not advocating that you should READ LESS and watch more T.V. but as anonymous did, you shouldn't put your T.V. in your closet either. I do agree that you could do without cable, but the fact of the matter is that T.V is necessary. At my place of work we aren't allowed to watch T.V. but it's there. It's there because we need it when there is threatening weather in the area. Such as last week's tornado's in northern Tennessee and again yesterday in IOWA. I don't imagine him going into work and someone talking about the damage of the tornado on T.V. and him saying I have no idea what you are blathering on about then. He reminds me of David Cross on Mr. Show when he says, "I don't own a television, notice I didn't say T.V.. T.V. is a nickname, nicknames are for friends, and Television is no friend of mine." Remember that one? Oh wait, that's right you don't watch TV! Also how would he feel if he went into work and started talking about the latest book he read and one of his co-workers said they had no idea what he was blathering on about?

Also T.V. is the best it's ever been. High definition is the BOMB not to mention with the advent of cable and audiences being lured to cable instead of network this has created a fiercer marketplace. I do agree that it also has created a lot of time to fill with garbage that is probably worse than ever. But you also get shows that are really entertaining. Which is kind of the point of T.V. in the first place.

I'm not saying that it's a good thing that there's more references to sex and violence on T.V. now more than ever. Even though a recent study showed that there's more acts of violence in an hour of cartoons than in prime time. I'm saying that I dont' see the harm in the reader described watching Grey's Anatomy and hoping that people would "hook up". It's better than him hoping his neighbors would do the same thing. These are fictional characters. It's escapism. Does he feel the same conflict when watching an action movie and he sees the bad guy get it in the end? These aren't real people.

Here are a several titles that I've read recently and enjoyed:

1. The Great Divorce--C.S. Lewis
2. The Screwtape Letters--C.S. Lewis
3. Pilgrim's Progress--John Bunyan
4. Confessions--Augustine (currently reading actually)
5. The Bourne Identity--Robert Ludlum

Happy reading!

JWa

Jonathan,

Yeah, I read the updated English version of "Pilgrims Progress" just before graduating from NOBTS and read "The Great Divorce" just afterward. They were both great, though I obviously disagree with Lewis' theology on hell. I read "Screwtape Letters" after college, but I hardly remember it -- I may have to re-read it soon.

Confessions looms large to me, so I may have to have some more motivation before I tackle it. And as for "Bourne Supremacy," well I don't read fiction much, especially if it is something I already watched as a movie.

But thanks for the suggestions. If you like Bunyan, try "Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners" then try Schreiner's and Canaday's "The Race Set Before Us." Great example of the "means of salvation" view in Bunyan and great theological and Biblical exposition of it in "The Race."

Thanks for stopping by -- I hope you become a frequent visitor, though I have proven to not be such a frequent poster.

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Paul was not interested merely in the ethical principles of religion or of ethics. On the contrary, he was interested in the redeeming work of Christ and its effect upon us. His primary interest was in Christian doctrine, and Christian doctrine not merely in its presuppositions but at its centre. -- J. Greshem Machen.

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