24 August 2005

...On Cultivating the Mind

Nobody can deny the role that television plays in the typical household and in our “view” of the world and all the elements of life. Sitcoms, movies, documentaries, sound-bite news, and recently, “reality shows” feed our perspectives on life’s issues. That has brought challenges that any parent can relate to. Images and sound bites quickly jumping from one topic cultivate a short attention span and a need to be entertained. TV blurs the lines between fiction and reality and tends to produce moral indifference and civic/political apathy. We have become “channel-surfers” not looking for anything intentionally but merely seeking to be stimulated. Shallow thinking is fostered making us susceptible to being “tossed to and fro” by every fad, advertisement, or political mantra that comes along.

Responsible citizens, and particularly Christians, are called to be different. We are to think actively and critically, grounded in the ability to discern between truth and falsehood. That comes from cultivating our minds through reading, studying, contemplating, and applying the written word of the Bible, like the Psalmist who found “his delight in the law of the Lord…meditating in it day and night.” (Ps 1:2) Cultivation also comes from reading good biographies, history, topical books, history and literature. It starts with reading, so let us develop the discipline of reading. We can keep our TV but let us watch it intentionally and critically. And let us turn it off regularly so that we can take up and read!