Entertaining Intimacy

I love watching TV. It’s relaxing. It requires no effort of my own, except pushing the buttons on the remote. And it's entertaining. It puts me into another world, whether it be a world of 5 friends living in New York, or a world of thousands of football fans. It’s as if you are there.

I often think we underestimate the power of television. I know I do. It has the power to take us away from our element, our world, our worries. It takes us away from community and lets us get by without thinking. It's fast paced, because that is what it takes to keep our attention. We live in a culture where anything is available to us in an instant, and where we can be entertained with the push of a button, and can get by in our day with very little human interaction. It’s a culture that often desensitizes the world around us. It doesn't challenge us, rather, tells us to go the easier way. It weakens our brain muscles rather than strengthen them by deep thinking and interaction. It’s no wonder people don't like church. It makes you think. It challenges you. To think about the vast greatness of God requires some critical thinking and reasoning that just isn't "useful" now days. We have the internet to do that for us. People can't process these things. They want a quick sermon full of humor and skits, something that requires a small attention span...something that looks like TV. People judge a church service they same way they would a TV show. Think about it. They want to feel like there was interaction, but subconsciously it was very passive interaction. Nothing stuck, because nothing was thought about. They don't expect to be challenged and walk away changed. No wonder there is a decline of youth getting involved in playing an instrument or engaging in social clubs. They can do all that on aim, myspace or facebook. This is now the way many people find their social intimacy, whether they realize it or not...in front of a computer screen or TV. And this culture is what many churches use to make God appealing to the unchurched.

I recently had a close friend come to visit from out of town. It was great. There is nothing I enjoy more than the fellowship of my close friends. It’s often where I am challenged and where I learn and where I gain experience and wisdom and accountability. While my friend was here, we spent most of our time out doing stuff, whether it be going to the lake to try and fish, or walking around the mall. Very little of our time was spent in front of a TV. It was spent conversing and simply hanging out. I value those times with my friends. The times I have a chance to get to know them better. I would much rather sit at Starbucks over a cup of coffee with a friend for two hours rather than go to the movies (not that I don't enjoy going to the movies). The reason for this is the quality time I get to spend with that person, and maybe get into a conversation where we have to think and dialog. It’s rich and refreshing. And I walk away closer to that person.

There is a derealization occurring in our culture. Where we can get away from the realities of our world with ease. Where we can go to church and not have to think too much or actually change the way we live. We are used to 30 minute sitcoms where we can be entertained then walk away and forget about it. But then we do the same for a 30 minute sermon on the doctrine of God. We can sit through a worship service and not engage in it. The church uses lights and cameras and big screens with cool videos. This portrays that the reason they do these things is so that we can feel good about church. The reality is that it feels like everything else, entertaining and disconnected.

There is something that the postmodern church is on to. Often in a postmodern church, you will find a passion for community and a passion for the people around them. A genuine care for others. They seek an intimacy with others that's beyond sexual intimacy, which is where the world tries to find intimacy. No wonder casual sex is widely accepted. People long for some kind of deeper intimacy with the people around them. They go straight to sexual intimacy because that is all they know of what true intimacy is. It’s as if sex is just an excuse to look deeply in another human being’s eyes. They skip to sexual intimacy because their skills of real intimacy have been compromised. As I said earlier, they find social "intimacy" on myspace or facebook. So when enticed with sexual intimacy, they are quick to give into the lie because their skills of real intimacy are never practiced. The reason is because their social engagements are found on the internet rather than face to face interaction. So they fast forward to physical intimacy to become "closer" to the other person because they are ignorant of what intimacy with others really is.

The more time we spend in our sects of communities with superficial associations outside of the people we care about, the more we lose touch with the real world around us and start losing our skills of intimacy with others.

What does all this mean for how we worship?
Should we attract the unhurched people around us by this culture of quickness and entertainment and shallowness? Or should we explore the depth of who God really is, of what community and intimacy really is? The former may reach more people thus bringing record numbers to worship, but the latter will actually change people without regard to numbers, or how attractive worship is.

It is not that these things (technology: video, lights, cameras, etc.) are wrong in and of themselves. The issue is that we need to ask better questions about their impact on us as a society which leads to better decisions about how we use them.

Here is an interesting article I found that has a celebrities view on the media now days, what what drives our culture...

Gadgets and Gadflies

Broadcasters' conference showcases cutting edge technology, as well as cutting words from keynote speaker Tim Robbins


In 1961 FCC commissioner Newton Minnow described television as a "vast wasteland" of game shows, gangsters, formula comedies and commercials. Forty-six years later, actor Tim Robbins thinks little has changed.

As the keynote speaker at the recent National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) conference in Las Vegas, the actor and activist decried today's news and entertainment content as driven by a "pornographic obsession with celebrity culture."

Actor Tim Robbins delivered a controversial keynote at this year's NAB conference.

"We love distraction," he said, reading from a speech the organizers reportedly tried to talk him out of giving. "I don't know about you, but show me a starlet without panties getting out of a car, and suddenly the world seems like a better place. Show me 'Knight Rider' drunk on the floor eating a hamburger, and I won't ask why my kid has no health insurance. Let's stop burdening people with facts."

A few people walked out, but Robbins finished to a standing ovation. And regardless of opinions, he did succeed in raising a powerful question, made more poignant by the acres of gadgets on the exhibit floor: Why, in an era of mind blowing media technological advances, does good content sometimes seem to lag so far behind?