Thursday, November 16, 2006

Why religious television programming is just plain awful

For the first time, we are now being told, most American homes have more televisions than people. According to the latest data from Nielsen Media Research, the average U.S. household has 2.55 people and 2.73 TVs.

Much of the programming, alas, is religious.

Whenever I think about television, I am mindful of the late Neil Postman who penned a tome titled Amusing Ourselves to Death. In it he briefly contrasts Orwell's 1984 and Huxley's Brave New World. The year '84 has come and is now long gone, said the author, but don't feel too good about it.

  • Orwell feared those who would ban books. Huxley feared there would be no reason to ban them, for no one would want to read one.
  • Orwell feared those who would deprive us information. Huxley feared so much information that we would be reduced to passivity.
  • Orwell feared the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance.
  • Orwell feared those who control by inflicting pain. Huxley feared those who control by inflicting pleasure.
  • Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.

Huxley and Postman were right in surmising that the "Brave New World" should be our greatest fear. And television should be part of that fright.

Postman, however, doesn’t stop with the passing of 1984. He quotes a former executive director of the National Religious Broadcasters Association in his volume who stated all too plainly the obvious law of television preachers: “You can get your share of the audience only by offering people something they want.”

Postman:

“You will note, I am sure, that this is an unusual religious credo. There is no great religious leader – from the Buddha to Moses to Jesus to Mohammed to Luther – who offered people what they want. Only what they need. But television is not well suited to offering people what they need….As a consequence, what is preached on television is not anything like the Sermon on the Mount. Religious programs are filled with good cheer. They celebrate affluence. Their featured players become celebrities. Though their messages are trivial, the shows have high ratings, or rather, because their messages are trivial, the shows have high ratings.

“I believe I am not mistaken in saying that Christianity is a demanding and serious religion. When it is delivered as easy and amusing, it is another kind of religion altogether.” (Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death)

"I would never let my children even come close to this thing." Such are the musings of the late Vladimir Kosma Zworykin, Russian-born inventor of the television set who, evidently, had some misgivings about the whole project when reflecting on his life's work on his 92nd birthday.

Many, if not most of us, can resonate with the Zworykin attitude, although it might be uncomfortable to do so. For, says Jerry Mander, former advertising executive and author: "I'm learning that people can hate a lot of television, hate their own viewing habits, hate what it does to them and their families." Nonetheless, says Mander, we "still think it's bizarre that anybody wants to get rid of it."

I have done talk radio for twelve years in our city. Most of those years we have had a “Throw Out Your TV Set Day” when we have actually challenged people to do what I did to my set twenty years ago – get up on the catwalk of the nearest building and provide a “heave-ho” to the favorite of family addictions. People would call the program and tell how horrible television was. And then I would ask: “So – you’re throwing yours out?”

No. Never. No.

It is not just that your kids will be less intellectual, or have less of an attention span, or spend less time in conversation with you the parent, or impair logical thinking, or expose them to sexual and immoral images that can never be erased, etc.

It is worse than that.

It’s that your kids are exposed to religious programming from time to time that appeals to their base animal instincts – innocent as they might be - instead of to the “life of God in the soul of man.”

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4 Comments:

At 10:07 PM, Blogger sushil yadav said...

The link between Mind and Social / Environmental-Issues.

The fast-paced, consumerist lifestyle of Industrial Society is causing exponential rise in psychological problems besides destroying the environment. All issues are interlinked. Our Minds cannot be peaceful when attention-spans are down to nanoseconds, microseconds and milliseconds. Our Minds cannot be peaceful if we destroy Nature.

Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment.

Subject : In a fast society slow emotions become extinct.
Subject : A thinking mind cannot feel.
Subject : Scientific/ Industrial/ Financial thinking destroys the planet.


Emotion is what we experience during gaps in our thinking.

If there are no gaps there is no emotion.

Today people are thinking all the time and are mistaking thought (words/ language) for emotion.


When society switches-over from physical work (agriculture) to mental work (scientific/ industrial/ financial/ fast visuals/ fast words ) the speed of thinking keeps on accelerating and the gaps between thinking go on decreasing.

There comes a time when there are almost no gaps.

People become incapable of experiencing/ tolerating gaps.

Emotion ends.

Man becomes machine.



A society that speeds up mentally experiences every mental slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.

A ( travelling )society that speeds up physically experiences every physical slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.

A society that entertains itself daily experiences every non-entertaining moment as Depression / Anxiety.



FAST VISUALS /WORDS MAKE SLOW EMOTIONS EXTINCT.

SCIENTIFIC /INDUSTRIAL /FINANCIAL THINKING DESTROYS EMOTIONAL CIRCUITS.

A FAST (LARGE) SOCIETY CANNOT FEEL PAIN / REMORSE / EMPATHY.

A FAST (LARGE) SOCIETY WILL ALWAYS BE CRUEL TO ANIMALS/ TREES/ AIR/ WATER/ LAND AND TO ITSELF.


To read the complete article please follow either of these links :

PlanetSave

EarthNewsWire


sushil_yadav

 
At 3:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Part of our earthly experience is to learn to choose good over evil. God gave agency to mankind for this purpose, for our growth and progression. Everything that comes into being has its opposites. With TV comes alot of bad, immoral programming. But also there are good uplifting, educational and spiritual shows. It is a matter of choosing good over evil. The internet is fraught with hazards, porn etc. But the internet has been and continues to be a wonderful way to spread the gospel, to inform people about the actions they can take to overcome evil at the many websites available for those uses. I would never ban TV or the internet. I want the good tools there for my use and my family to use. We, as a nation, must make better choices, and choose good over evil.
Judy Redden

 
At 5:40 AM, Blogger apasho said...

I disagree with this post. I became a Christian back in 1974 through watching Christian Television. Christian programing is reaching thousands of people with the message of the gospel.

 
At 8:48 AM, Anonymous norlon02 said...

Re: He quotes a former executive director of the National Religious Broadcasters Association in his volume who stated all too plainly the obvious law of television preachers: “You can get your share of the audience only by offering people something they want.”

Re: Religious programs are filled with good cheer. They celebrate affluence. Their featured players become celebrities. Though their messages are trivial, the shows have high ratings, or rather, because their messages are trivial, the shows have high ratings.

There should be no surprise that this is happening. It was predicted by Paul in 2 Timothy 4: 3&4.
3. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. (NIV)

There are ligitimate preachers on TV, but there are certainly some who fall into the catagory decribed by Mr Friedman.

 

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