Christian Entertainment?

05Mar09

Is this what Christ came to give the world? Guitar Praise?

I could rant against this for an entire post. I could mention that entirely co-opting a concept and rebranding it as “Christian” is the opposite of what Christ did. I could get all bothered about a cheesy quote, “On-screen lyrics present solid Christian messages,” from their promotional video. I could take issue with their claim that through Guitar Praise, you can “live the dream;” the dream, after all, should be following Christ if we’re Christians. I could ask what exactly I’m supposed to focus on in this frame of the aforementioned promo video:

Guitar Praise Promo Video

From the Guitar Praise Promo Video

And really, if we’re going to use a woman’s breasts and butt to sell a Christian video game, could we please at least show her face?

But I don’t want to cut down Guitar Praise too much. No, I’d like to be much more broad than that.

First, I should mention that I’ve struggled off and on with video game addiction over the years, and God indeed knows how many hours were spent killing bad guys or defending the princess to the neglect of prayer, service, study, or personal relationships. Maybe that’s why this issue is so personal to me.

But I’m not just talking about video games. We Christians in America desperately need to rethink our notions of entertainment in general. The Bible demands it.

As you read through the Gospels and Acts, do you see the disciples looking for entertainment? I don’t. I see them living their entire lives on mission. In Acts especially, they are entirely focused on carrying forth the good news of Christ to the then-known world. Reading the epistles, I don’t see any kind of thanksgiving for anything like our entertainment. There’s thanksgiving for people, yes, for God, yes, for Christian tunes that sound like the hippest thing playing in the Roman theaters, no. They’re “entertained” entirely by Christ!

Joy in Scripture comes from knowing God and walking in fellowship with his children. Joy, for too many Western Christians, is a sort of mysterious thing we have never known because too much of our time is spent seeking the cheap thrill or momentary escape of entertainment. After a rough day, I don’t need TV to give me escape or distraction. That doesn’t last, and it costs a good bit of money to boot! No, I need to refuel myself by continually reconnecting with my Creator. He knows what I need. He is the only source of real peace, and he can be my only true comfort.

Consider what D. Kevin Brown has to say about entertainment’s effects on Christian teenagers:

Statistics show that 92% of Christian teenagers will leave the church and abandon their faith by their 20th birthday, and over half of these never return to the church (George Barna Research Group). We have found through the years that a steady diet of activities, fun, and entertainment are not enough to mature our young people. All too often, when the fun and games end, they walk away because they’ve had little or no part in the church or its ministries.

Now, I’m not against all entertainment. I often watch The Office; I enjoy sports and music. But I refuse to suckle at the teat of the entertainment industry when Christ would have me seek after him toward true maturity. If I’m really already living in the greatest story ever, entertainment should taste cheap to me.

As for Christian entertainment, buying into it may signal that we’re more worldly than we care to admit. Particularly if we idolize Christian entertainers as the world does its actors and rock stars, we are far from following Christ.

So should you go to the movies this weekend? Should you move on to the next site? Should you buy another video game? That’s between you, God, and whoever it is you’ll not be spending time with or whatever it is you’ll not be spending time doing.

Switchfoot puts it this way:

If we’re adding to the noise, turn off this song.
If we’re adding to the noise, turn off your stereo, radio, video…

A professor of mine recently quoted an old saying, “The enemy of the best is the good.” (Yes, Voltaire said the opposite, and there’s a point to be made there, too.) As Christians, you and I should always be striving to make the best use of the time God has given us here. Does entertainment ever qualify, or should we find our rest in him?

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4 Responses to “Christian Entertainment?”

  1. 1 Scott Patty

    Hey Adam. You do realize I rarely read blogs (or is it blahs?). Anyway, since it’s you, I read your piece on Christian entertainment. Here’s a thought. Maybe we can think about enjoyments, not entertainment. Maybe the question is not what entertains me, but how does regeneration and a growing love for Christ and the gospel shape what I enjoy, and how I enjoy it. Transformed and being transformed by Christ moves me toward enjoyments (art, food, exercise, etc.), which provide respite from work, replenishing rest for body and soul, and an opportunity to relate to others and thank God for his good gifts. This is vastly different from pursuing entertainment as an escape from reality and responsibility.

    Back to work- Scott

  2. 2 Adam

    Scott, I do indeed realize that. 😉 Thanks for chiming in on this one though. I like your distinction between entertainment and enjoyment. You’ve put much more succinctly (and peaceably) exactly what I’m trying to get at.

  3. 3 Patrick

    After watching the entire video for “Guitar Praise” I was a bit surprised to find that the only part of the video that the woman was in was only for a few seconds. I don’t think they did it in a disrespectful way, although as you pointed out, it would have been better to show her face, but I don’t think they were trying to sell the game just off of that few seconds of instructional video. (I do think they could have done the overall video in a better quality, I felt like I was watching a video off of YouTube for a gadget that some guy invented in his backyard.)
    I certainly get what you’re saying about the entertainment industry as a whole though, and it is a difficult balance to get at, but I think that is something that each individual Christian must wrestle with.
    And I did want to say, “suckle the teat”? I never thought I would hear that phrase in reference to the entertainment industry. I am continually amazed at your extensive vocabulary. Or maybe my own ignorance of such words.

  4. 4 Adam

    P-trick,

    Thanks for dropping in. You’re probably right that I got a bit carried away at the top there about Guitar Praise, but with regards to the female model, my point is just that we Christians ought to be very careful about both the explicit AND the implicit messages we send. (Which of course goes for this post, too.) We probably ought to be extra careful if we’re marketing a video game to teenagers. I’m sure I made it seem worse than it is, though.

    As for the, uh, phrase you liked… might’ve gotten a bit carried away there, too.


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