One evening as I looked through the TV listings in search of something interesting, I read this description of a show: “Man brushes fish’s teeth.”
Ah-huh, I thought. That should rank right up there with the all-night chess match.
I had already learned that my pet fish have no teeth. Whenever I scrubbed the glass of my aquarium to scrape off the algae, which multiplied faster than guppies, my fish sometimes mistook my fingers for worms. (Their greedy fish lips were forever skimming for manna flakes from heaven or whatever plopped into the water).
I bet, if I still had my fish, they’d be staring at the TV, entranced by the sight of a distant cousin getting its non-existent teeth brushed. (I had put them up for adoption when the algae threatened to ooze out of the tank and attack the children.)
My fish actually did watch television. And I don’t blame them. You can only watch a plastic scuba diver dig for treasure so many times before you want to cut off its oxygen supply.
Since the aquarium was near the TV, the fish lined up against the glass (when they could find gaps in the algae through which to peer) and puckered at whatever flickered across the screen.
Most TV shows are perfect for fish brains. An evening’s TV listings reads like a cheap novel:
A family gets stranded on an island on the way to Hawaii while elves and a woodland boy save a princess from the Lord of Darkness and his goblins. A habitual matchmaker opens a dating service and ends up in bed with a client. A wife wrecks her husband’s car and blames his sexy secretary. A detective investigates the murder of a dead woman (would the murdered woman be anything but dead?) and uncovers the secret hideaway of woodland elves who have given a stranded family silly things to fight about.
And to top off the evening (and I quote), “A novelist’s vacation leads to werewolf terror, including her husband and an old bell [belle?] from Romania.” (Did her husband grow too much hair and have an affair with a Communist ding-a-ling?)
It’s hard to believe that I and a billion people actually watch such shows. What possesses us to sacrifice more uplifting activities — reading, dialoguing with spouses or God, visiting lonely neighbors — to spend mindless hours absorbed in non-quality programming that neither educates us nor enhances our lives? Sympathy for the fish?
God has told us what to fill our minds with: whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, gracious, excellent and worthy of praise (Phil. 4:8).
A few movies and TV shows fit that description. In the US, the Hallmark Channel has become the place to tune in for wholesome, morally safe entertainment, and it has now expanded to three channels. Apparently, there are a lot of viewers who prefer whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, gracious, excellent and worthy of praise.
Just imagine what our world would be like if everyone viewed only those types of shows.
I think it’s time we expanded our fish brains, opened wide our mouths for the true manna from heaven, and replaced the boring scuba diver with a more interesting bubble blower.
Reflection questions for family discussion:
What are my favorite TV shows? Why I do like them so much? Does Jesus like them as much as I do? Why or why not?
Holy Spirit, increase in us a stronger discomfort for entertainment that is not pleasing to You and a greater desire for whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, gracious, excellent and worthy of praise.
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© 2018 by Terry Modica of Good News Ministries