Monday, August 30, 2010

Salty

I never set out to be radical or fringe...I shop at J. Crew, enjoy Real Simple magazine and drive a gas-guzzling SUV. Yet, slowly but surely I find myself pulling out of the mainstream. I don't have a grand plan to move out to a prairie and join a militia, I am just finding myself in a different place--step by step.

I think it started in college when I gave up certain fashion/lifestyle magazines. I realized when I read them I felt like a freak for valuing sexual purity. Reading their columns made me feel like something was wrong with me for pursuing godliness and that every other female in their late teens-to thirties was living a wild, free, more evolved life of sexual conquest and adventure.

When my children came along I gave up on radio and television news. There was too much unpredictability in what the little eyes and ears in my care might see or hear via lyrics, news reports or even interviews.

A couple of years ago I decided to walk away from my 'harmless' vice of celebrity gossip. It was such escapism for me. I confess (with embarrassment) I have fallen off this wagon more than once. If I allow myself to forget that these celebrities are real people, I can be quite entertained by the ridiculousness of their antics. Trouble is, they ARE real people. God is faithful to remind me of that and I give it up again. Here's hoping this time is the last. (Phillippians 4:8)

This Summer we have been without television. It was not something we set out to do or a statement we intended to make. Our satellite was mistakenly disconnected during all of the upheaval of our yard. By the time it was relatively safe to reconnect, it had been weeks since we had last had service. We realized we could live without it.

An interesting thing has happened through the course of my somewhat unintentional unplugging from pop culture--my perspective has shifted. What I was once numb to is now striking in its offensiveness. When I am somewhere with a television now, it is as if I am seeing with new eyes. It has become much harder to swallow things now that seemed normal just three months ago.

I cannot help but think about when I gave up sweet tea. When I did finally return to it, it was too sweet for my palate. The absence of that flavor allowed my taste to change a bit. After a bit of a break, it wasn't as I remembered it. I hadn't really considered that the same could be true of pop culture. It seems, however, that I was indeed desensitized to a lot of things as a result of my immersion in them. After a little time and distance, I am truly losing my taste for pop culture.

I admit that with mixed emotions. There are a few programs that (for better or for worse) I have really enjoyed...Glee, Brothers and Sisters, Dateline, Grey's Anatomy, American Idol.

I hope the point of this rambling post is not lost. I don't think television is bad. Nor do I think we can (or should) bury ourselves in a bunker and wait for Jesus to return. I simply think it is amazing what a difference it makes in our appetite for the things of the world when we chose to push ourselves away from the table for just a bit.

Lest I eat my words later, I am not at a place where I feel led to commit that I'll never return to these things...just a commentary. :-)

I have been praying through the whole "in it not of it" balancing act this week--asking God how to be salt and light. I don't want to be John the Baptist, living in the wilderness. Yet, I want to be different in a way that draws people to the cross.

Yesterday afternoon I picked up a book that seems to be speaking right to where God has me. I am only 30 pages in--too soon for a recommendation or review--but this quote struck me.

"Christians make a difference in this world by being different from this world; they don't make a difference by being the same. This is critically important, because in our trend-chasing world it is tempting for Christians to slowly lose their distinctiveness by accommodating to culture. But by trying so hard to fit in, many Christians risk having nothing distinctive to say..." Tullian Tchividjian, Unfashionable

I am not sure what this will all mean as I continue to wrestle...especially as I consider verses like John 17:15: "My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one." or John 17:18 "As you have sent me (Jesus) into the world, so I have sent them into the world."

It seems to all come back to balance. Living here and loving the people without loving the world's ways. (I John 2:15-17)

"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:13-16 NIV

6 comments:

A-and-Z's Mom said...

We don't have cable either! We never got cable (it is so expensive!) and while there is a TV in the family room, we watch perhaps two hours of TV a week, mostly DVDs of stuff. It is such a time saver! Our kids don't ask for as much stuff, because they haven't seem all that sugary cereal advertised.

Sara said...

We've been without tv for over a year since it converted to digital - I feel the same way as you - whenever I see a tv now, in a restaurant or at someone else's home, I realize why I don't miss it - it's like sensory overload! Plus, I get a lot more done around the house and have more time to read the Bible and other good books...

Missy said...

I think the number one lesson I value from my Christian upbringing was that I learned I was different from this world - we (our family) were different, it was okay to stand out, I didn't expect to fit in - set apart, right?

Regarding TV, I just gave up cable last week. I still get the very basic channels and find there's plenty to watch while I fold laundry and otherwise, I don't really miss it!

MeriBeth said...

I love your blog and have been reading it for a while. You really make me think and often encourage me. Thank you. I had to comment about giving up TV. We gave it up over 6 years ago. As soon as my daughter was old enough to pick up on things......I realized that we did not want her hearing much of what is on TV. I would not get the dish back if you paid me. It makes our home more peaceful and leaves more time for other things. It allows my kids to think their own thoughts. My kids have such a great imagination. I have also given up "talk radio". I truly believe that we should be careful what we watch, read, and listen to. I often refer to the verse in the Bible that tells us to think on things that are true and pure. Anyway.....I am glad you have discovered the joy and peace of "no TV".

Peter and Nancy said...

We do have TV, but it's off most of the day because of the same things you talk about. By the time our first son was 1, I realized I didn't want our kids to see most of what was on.

Interesting that you bring this up -- my husband and I had read lots of great reviews of The Wire, so we checked out the first DVD from the library. I got into a debate with another Christian about it . . . because we made it 15 minutes into the first episode, and there were two scenes with over a dozen f-bombs. The other Christian argued that it's the finest writing of any show on the air, but we couldn't stomach all the swearing and sent it back to the library unwatched.

We just couldn't justify sticking with it -- and never got to experience any of the great writing because it was such an assault on our ears. Yikes.
Nancy

Alanna said...

I love reading your blog! Especially enjoyed your post today about being "in the world, but not of it." Our sinful world has strayed so much from how God created us to be. A redeemed life will be different and that's good! The world will notice our "outward" differences, but should also notice our great love. May God help me in this area!