Thursday, April 29, 2010

To TV or Not TV: That is the Question

Thousands of violent acts. Beer commercials highlighting burping, beer-bellied men, bad pickup lines (is there a GOOD pickup line?). Shows that spotlight dysfunctional people, dysfunctional situations...a dysfunctional world. A glance at today's TV Guide leaves me asking a question you've surely considered: TV or Not TV?

Television land has come a long way from my childhood memories of Leave it to Beaver , where Ward plants a kiss on the cheek of an aproned, coiffed June while the Beave and Wally tussle in their upstairs bedroom. So safe. So average. So good ole Americana values a la 1950 and 1960s. But were those values really indicative of American society or just window-dressing on the very middle-class, very suburbia, two-story house at 211 Pine Street, Mayfield, Ohio?

What's a Christian striving to follow the tenets of John 17:6-25 (believers in the world but not of the world) to do?

1. Ponder TV usage statistics and your personal schedule., reports that Americans spend an average of four hours a day glued to their TV sets. 99% of us own a television set; 66% of our households possess THREE. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that watching TV occupies the top slot in Americans' leisure activities. Second top activity? Visits with friends!

The Lacy household uses TV as a backdrop to exercise time when weather quashes outside activity. The spokes on that stationery bike sure whirr faster when a gritty Law & Order episode works my brain cells and pulls attention from my achy muscles.

2. When we accept Christ, we have a Wise Counselor available 24/7! Ask the Holy Spirit for guidance on the niggling issues of "Does this activity glorify Christ, further His kingdom work, provide rest for my soul? If show scenes start a gut-churn, I need to listen. And punch the remote to "off."

3. Analyze potential programs for life or work application. TV CAN teach about moral premise, conflict resolution, and educate on topics as diverse as saving the biosphere to recovering your old sofa.

To TV or not TV: that is the question. What is your answer?



  1. I think there are both good and bad tv shows. Probably, my biggest concern is that there just isn't enough "quiet" in our lives. There are many scriptures about God meeting with us and speaking to us in stillness and in quiet. We need to be sure and find plenty of time for this.

    P.S. Wally's sports jacket is just too much :)

  2. Well, Patti, I'm afraid I'm one of those people who watch too much tv. I don't typically watch four hours a day, but there have been days when I know I have. This is actually something I've prayed about because sometimes when I watch tv I feel so guilty. However, I usually am doing something else and the tv is just background noise, except when Monk is on. He does get my undivided attention. Suzie says, "help me....I watch too much tv...."

  3. I enjoy watching TV as well, yet lately, I have been thinking about other ways to spend my time. Most importantly spending time with God. If I'm spending all my time with TV instead of Him, isn't that using TV as an idol? Just a thought.

  4. We didn't have cable or satellite or anything but antenna TV for the first 19 years of our marriage. Our kids watched lots of videos but we only watched the occasional TV show and, of course, sporting events.

    But when we moved here four years ago, with our 3 teenagers, our antenna couldn't pick up anything. And rather than miss baseball, football, and basketball, my husband decided we needed satellite TV. I wasn't really for it. After all, I'd really come to take pride in the fact that we really didn't "do" TV. And there was my downfall: pride. Because guess what TV did? It gave my daughter a new passion: cooking.

    Yes, she truly discovered both her passion for cooking and her ability to do it by watching the Food Network. Now that she is in culinary school, I have to concede that some TV can be a good thing. Of course we still rarely watch the networks. My teenagers, after so many years of not TV have picked up on more offbeat shows on things like Food Network, HGTV, and The Learning Channel. Oh, and ESPN, of course!

  5. We watch very little tv here, compared to others. A few select shows, the news, a bit of sports for some of us. Life is just too busy with other goodness to give too many hours to the television.

  6. Well, we are racking up the opinions. A great topic to ponder in a safe the Inkwell! Am gettin' lots of comments on the Facebook link, too! Hope they "tune in" to the REAL show! LOL.


  7. I record several shows on U-verse so that I can fast forward through the commercials.I like to watch good storylines and characters. The trade-off is the world's view of sex as entertainment- no getting around it. What will the cost be?

  8. I probably watch way too much TV. Like Susie, I like the background noise. But I do try to guard my eyes and heart by not watching things I wouldn't watch with my grandma in the room. The thing is that once your mind is expanded by a new image or idea, it can't ever really go back to the shape it was.

    So I guess there's a line to be drawn. Still I do have lots of favorite shows.

  9. I've been in a new phase of my life - no TV. Since I'm living alone now, I rarely have the thing on. Sometimes to watch news while making dinner but usually it is set to play DVDs and that's all.

    I would like to watch some of the popular shows like Castle and NCIS and I try to catch an occasional Dancing with the Stars and Amazing Race but when given the choice of writing time or watching TV...

    Television was a big part of life and can be a fun way to relax. Like the internet, it's a mix of good and bad. Entertaining and Educational at times and a real spoiler at others!

    I'm glad I had the chance to watch some of the old shows through the years. Westerns, Ed Sullivan, the old game shows, Dick Clark's dance party on Saturdays, Laugh In, the cop shows, Little House on the Prairie, Mary Tyler Moore, Magnum PI, Frazier -- they've all left impressions of life, humanity, and carried me away as much as books have. Fueled the imagination and made me laugh. A true child of the fifties. Our parents were hooked and so were we.

    Captain Kangaroo!
    I like Lisa's example to not watch what you wouldn't watch with your grandma in the room. That really takes a chunk out of today's shows, eh?

  10. Ha, Deb and Lisa, that wouldn't work for me. My siblings and I sometimes snuck to my grandmas house a few blocks away to watch shows we weren't allowed to watch at home.

    I'm sure if she were still alive she'd be hooked on all the hot new nighttime dramas.

  11. Excellent post, Patti! Thought-provoking. My husband and I evaluate our family's watching patterns on a fairly regular basis. It's always a balancing act for us, what to watch, how much of it to watch... We love our DVR and we definitely have shows we watch only when the kids are in bed.

    I was watching an episode of CSI with my parents recently. I don't mean to sound like a prude, but I couldn't believe the plot line surrounding the murder victim. I was so embarrassed (and so were my folks) that we shut it off.

    I'm enjoying reading everyone's opinions. Thanks again, Patti.

  12. Y'all are so funny! Love hearing what goes on behind closed doors!!!

    Never heard of U-Verse, Cheryl.
    Has anyone else?

    Oooh, a daughter in Culinary School?!!! D'Ann, talk about pot-dripping benefits!!!


  13. I agree tv is tainting the entire world. It's sad and angers me.

    I used to rarely have mine on. I, however, married a tv-aholic and my kids have fallen suit. I hate it but it's 3 against 1.

  14. Patti, thanks for your thought provoking post! I'm selective about what I watch on tv, and I sometimes watch shows I've missed on the internet. I've also never paid to watch tv (we have half a dozen free digital channels here) and I think this has helped to minimise my tv viewing.

    BTW, no beer or tobacco tv commercials are allowed here and I think they limit junk food ads as well.

  15. Rosalie, sigh. We have the sports addiction going strong here! Of course, when the Australian, French, and U.S. Opens and Wimbledon hit the courts, I WANT TO TUNE IN!

    Wow, Narelle, interesting! I am jealous.

  16. Oooh, that's a good question! I know a lot of people in our church choose not to have one--or just use it to watch DVDs.

    I don't watch a lot of TV but I am hooked on 24 and American Idol. But they're not very educating. :(

  17. Jennifer,
    Sigh. I watched The Biggest Loser once and Undercover Boss twice and LOVED them.

    Just have to keep the remote out of my itchy little hands if I wanna get stuff done!!

    My daughter also loves 24, but isn't it over???

  18. I long for the days of the Cosby show and other shows like that that were truly safe for the whole family. I watch less TV now than I ever did before because I just can't stand all the junk out there. What a shame. Great post, Patti, that really gave me reason to pause.

  19. I miss some of the classics like I Love Lucy. We've been discussing ditching cable. There's a few things that I would miss, but I'll manage:)
    Blessings for the weekend,

  20. Sharon, me 2!!
    Karen, sigh. That's a battle I will lose b/c of all the sports shows on cable.

    Compromising here in Normal!

  21. Now that I'm writing a drama, I have less guilt about TV viewing. In fact, we're encouraged to watch movies if we want to succeed as scriptwriters. I don't watch much weekly TV shows, but I do turn on Biography, the news, or watch a movie. Sitcoms used to be so great, a moment of brain release and good humor, but now I find the humor to be cutting and too sexual.

  22. I don't feel guilty about watching tv. I think as a writer, it's important to have a finger on the pulse of our culture.

  23. Dina, I've been thinking about our "conversation" all morning. What I also love about DvD is Sally, the writer. She wasn't "just a secretary." That must have been foreward thinking in those days. She was clever and witty. Her humor was around the working girl, dating humor, which is always funny, and being herself. And, I wonder what Mary did once they developed wrinkle free shirts? She must have taken up a hobby.

  24. We chewed and savored and bit off great thoughts on this topic.

    I LOVE discussions in a safe place like the Inkwell.

    Thanks to all for great comments!!!!


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