November 20, 2008

Bored? Nothing to Do?

For Matthew’s Bible we are doing what I have academically entitled “Old Testament Survey.” Actually, it is not that daunting. Using The Victor Journey Through the Bible, we read a chapter of the Bible, read the commentary in …Journey… and color maps and stuff. As we started “Exodus”, the author, V. Gilbert Beers, discussed the difference between the Egyptians and the Hebrews. “Music and the arts were popular entertainment among Egyptians, but the Hebrews enjoyed gathering in their tents to talk and eat.” What a powerful thought to stop and consider this major difference between the pagans and God’s chosen ones. What an even more powerful thought to stop and consider whom we might resemble more? The truth I see revealed in our family makes me shudder. I do not hate entertainment; I love it! After an exhausting day, I revel in getting Lost on some island, wonder what kind of super Hero power I would like, or maybe just delight in seeing somebody else’s Life. Disengagement. It is easier than pulling out a game board, reading aloud, or- why not get really radical- family Bible study and giving “my time” to another who needs it. Yet, this type of disengagement is precisely what leads to apathy, a “deadness of soul,” both far more appropriate synonyms for the innocuous sounding “boredom.” I honestly do not think I had ever considered this word or thought of all the sin that it covers until I read Still Bored in a Culture of Entertainment. Who knows what caught me? Culture? Entertainment? Or the subtitle: Rediscovering Passion and Wonder? All buzzwords guaranteed to prick my ears. It was advertised in Shepherd’s Press so if the Tripp brothers were recommending it, I would read it.
It opened my eyes to what I call Biblical language- using Biblical terms to define worldly language such as calling naughtiness sin, whining and fussing are grumbling and complaining, not sharing is selfishness, a tattle-tale is a tale-bearer, not listening is disobedience, and boredom becomes idleness, laziness, apathy, and discontent. In fact, after the historical study of boredom that Richard Winter, the author, presents, we learn that the early church fathers considered it a spiritual disorder, “the monks had lost interest in and passion for the very thing that previously motivated their choices and lifestyle: the pursuit of God and a holy life.” OUCH! Winter helps us to understand the basics of boredom, the two types, how our beloved entertainment industry exacerbates boredom, even how advertising affects it, how certain personalities are prone to it- having two boys and several gaming systems shows me that. He also presents the worldviews that influence boredom and the painful consequences such as sexual addiction and aggression. Yet in God’s grace, Mr. Winter also shares the antidote: and it is just that- God’s grace. A proper, high view of God. A delight in God. A life of love-filled gratitude for God.
I know in my pursuit to engage the culture, I am tempted to be engaged by it or to disengage. And I know that when I consider Biblical language, “taking every thought captive”, “run the race with diligence- as to win”, “pursue”, “ throw off all that hinders”, I am reminded to be “an effectual doer” and Still Bored in a Culture of Entertainment exhorts me to that call.

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