03 September 2013

Amusement and the god of entertainment

Sometimes I feel like I could preach for an hour on a particular topic.  I'm pretty sure I'm the only one at church who feels that way, but some topics can easily be soapboxes for me.  This past Sunday, I preached on the god of entertainment (we are in a series on false gods).*  In doing an early Sunday morning run through of the sermon, it quickly became apparent that this sermon was way too long for me, coming in at nearly 40 minutes (I try not to preach more than 30, with rare exceptions).  So the difficult question surfaced: what do I have to cut to get this down to 25 minutes?  This is probably a good situation in which to find yourself; it's better than having to face the question, "What can I add to get this up to the right length?"  If you find yourself with a 10-minute sermon and you can't think of anything else to add, it's going to be a tough time for you sermonically.

So the gist of the sermon was this: entertainment is a gift from God, but it becomes an idol when it diverts and distracts us to the point that our most important relationships suffer.  The main part that was cut was a section on the concept of "amusement."  Here it is:

     Many forms of entertainment we seek because we want to be amused.  I never realized what the word "amusement" meant.  The Muses, according to Greek mythology, are the personification of knowledge and the arts: literature, dance, music, science, geography, math, philosophy, drama, and inspiration.  Music is an art of the Muses, and a museum used to be where you'd go to worship the Muses.  They were all about thoughtfulness, reflection, and creativity. 
     Now when you take a Greek word and put an "a" on the front of it, it negates the word.  It makes the difference between "theist" (someone who believes God exists) and "atheist" (someone who believes God does not exist).  Therefore, the word amusement basically means the lack of thoughtfulness, reflection, and creativity. 
     There's nothing wrong with a good laugh; it can help us cope with things that would otherwise drive us crazy.  But I have to wonder, does the god of entertainment really want to help us or hurt us?  Are we, as Neil Postman so aptly titles his book, amusing ourselves to death?  TV, movies, games, social media all promise to add value to your life - but they take it from you, one hour, one game, one newsfeed at a time.  We sit in front of the TV and say, "there's nothing on!"  maybe what we mean is "meaningless!  Meaningless!  It's all meaningless!"  As Kyle Idleman writes, "never in the history of humanity has there been so much entertainment and so little satisfaction."

* - shout out to Kyle Idleman for his excellent book Gods At War: Defeating the Idols that Battle for Your Heart (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2013).

No comments: