Randy Alcorn on Television

Yesterday I ran across this post by Randy Alcorn about television consumption.  Most of this is fine advice, though I take issue with a couple of points.

 First, point number twelve.

 “Spend an hour reading Scripture, a Christian book or magazine, or doing a ministry for each hour you watch TV.”

Seriously?  Now I will be the first to admit that I am terrible about reading Scripture consistently, but this is just nonsense.  Suppose you spend Saturday watching college football or you enjoy watching Law and Order a few times a week, and this guy is suggesting you have to go work in a soup kitchen to make up for it.  I appreciate that Alcorn is thinking through the implications of media influence – someone has to – but let’s not get carried away.  I thought the Reformation was to do away with this legalistic silliness.

Point number thirteen is also troubling, albeit a little less so.

“Consider dropping cable, Showtime, HBO, or any other service that you determine is importing ungodliness or temptation into your home.”

True enough, there is plenty of programming on these networks that is explicit and in all likelihood unsuitable for believers or any decent human being.   But the truth is that despite its vulgar nature, there are many programs and movies that have been cultural watermarks, and Christians have to be a part of that conversation.  Now I am not suggesting that believers must watch The Sopranos or Deadwood or Six Feet Under.  However I am suggesting that in spite of violence, nudity and some very salty language, these networks, and HBO in particular, have produced some programs that say deep and profound things about human nature.   Christians – some of us but not all of us – must be a part of that conversation. 

Of course one might say that you could use Netflix to catch up on these shows or watch the edited syndicated version on A&E or check the DVDs out from the local public library.  But Randy Alcorn might suggest you read back issues of Christianity Today to make up for it.

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