In the days of my law practice, I would come home each night after work, and if I didn’t have some social event or another to attend, I would fix dinner and plop down in front of the television for a couple hours of cheap entertainment. Those days, I was watching a lot of crime shows, and I saw my fill of murder and mayhem just before heading off for a night of peaceful rest.
What I began to notice, however, was a bit unsettling. Each morning after an evening filled with televised violence, I would wake up with this vague sense of… depression.
Look, it was clear to everyone involved, including me, that these were just dramatic characterizations I was seeing on television, and I don’t have a problem distinguishing fantasy from reality, at least most of the time. And I’m not really prone to being depressed; in fact, I like to think that I’m a pretty happy and fun-loving guy. So it really made me think about the impact that entertainment and media has on my life. On one hand, it saturates our environment; on the other, it was my choice to turn on the television.
“‘Everything is permissible’ – but not everything is beneficial. ‘Everything is permissible’ – but not everything is constructive,” the Apostle Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 10. I was talking this concept over with several people on my leadership team, and we found ourselves wondering: How would we be different if we used this as our standard for the entertainment and media we consume? If we consciously decided to only to take in that which is beneficial and constructive, would we be better artists?
It is a question worth asking ourselves. How we each answer could define how dedicated we are to our respective crafts. Now I should mention that not only am I not the arbiter of what is and isn’t beneficial and constructive for people in terms of entertainment, I also wouldn’t want that position. And quite frankly, I still like watching crime shows on television.
But if the old adage “garbage in, garbage out” is correct, isn’t the opposite also true? If we consciously decide to consume that which is beneficial and constructive – the true, the beautiful, the admirable, and all the other attributes found in Philippians 4 – doesn’t that mean that the art we create will more likely be true, beautiful, and admirable?
It is not that we can’t explore the darkness and its nature, but if darkness is all we explore, we will be forever blind. As a man thinks in his heart, so is he. And our art, to a large extent, comes from whom we are, or at least it does when it’s effective art. Which means that our art will be a product of what we do with the ideas we take in from the entertainment and media around us.
So my leadership team is going to do a mild experiment – and you’re welcome to join us if you’d like – to test this concept. For the next month, we’re going to see what happens when we limit our entertainment to that which is beneficial and constructive. I anticipate that we will be better artists on the other side.
All my best,
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