by Charles R. Swindoll
Entertainment is everything today. So important, in fact, that we have television programs and magazines devoted solely to the subject. All of which makes it real difficult to be committed to substance rather than the superficial. This includes reading widely, probing deeply, seeing with discernment, rejecting the false, learning the facts. In short, thinking!
Critic Neil Postman, author of Amusing Ourselves to Death, correctly argues that television is converting us from a "word-centered culture" to an "image-centered culture." Even the news broadcasts are under increasing pressure to entertain more than inform.
Ted Koppel, the penetrating [former] host of Nightline, calls this "Vannatizing" (after Vanna White, Wheel of Fortune's celebrity hostess, whose role on the highly rated game show is a matter of looking cute and saying "hello" and "bye-bye"). Toddler talk. Don't think, just look. Don't question, relax. "There's not much room on television for complexity," says Koppel. "We now communicate with everyone and say absolutely nothing."
I can handle "Vannatizing" a game show. But when it comes to our faith, "Vannatizing" is intolerable. When will we ever learn that sacred things cannot be staged and remain sacred? What will it take to finally convince us of what Muggeridge stated so well, "You cannot present an authentic message by means of an inauthentic medium"?
My hope rests in the remnant of believers who still believe in thinking . . . who have an insatiable hunger for learning . . . who appreciate the hard work that goes into knowing where they stand theologically and yet knowing where they need to bend practically.
What I'm pushing for is more who know what they believe, and why. Folks who can spot phony baloney before it hits the headlines . . . who know some guru is spouting heresy even though his promises sound inviting. Folks who don't wait to be told every move to make, who are challenged within to grow, to study, to learn.
Such discernment never comes automatically. Thinking is hard work, but, oh, so rewarding. And so essential for survival.
Furthermore, you won't feel quite so intimidated the next time some guy who just heard you're a Christian leans over and asks why. Your defense will make better sense.
If you have the opportunity, take a course at a nearby Bible school, Christian college, or seminary. Or perhaps your church offers some in-depth study electives. You will gain a broader base of knowledge, a wider scope of awareness, and a deeper commitment to truth.
Excerpted from Day by Day with Charles Swindoll, Copyright © 2000 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.