Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Great God Entertainment

Allow me to be very clear and up-front. These ideas are not my own. I am paraphrasing an essay by A.W. Tozer, because he wrote this in 1955 and it terrifies me to think how much the god of entertainment has grown since then. I am writing this to bring clarity to what he wrote and so more people can consider it than otherwise would. With that said...

A German philosopher many years ago said something like this; the more a man has in his own heart the less he will need from the outside. Excessive need for support from the outside is a sign of the bankruptcy of the inner man.

If this is true (and I believe it is), then the incredible attachment we see to every form of entertainment is evidence that the inner life of modern man is in serious decline. The average man has no central core of moral assurance, no flow from his heart, no inner strength to make it so he does not need repeated psychological shots to give him the courage to keep on living. He has become a parasite on the world, sucking the life from his environment, unable to live without the constant stimulation that modern life affords him.

The philosopher believed that feeling dependent was the basis for all religious worship, and that no matter how strong we may become spiritually, it must begin with a deep need that only God could satisfy. If this need is the basis of normal religion then it is easy to see why the god of Entertainment is worshiped by so many. There are millions who cannot live without amusement. For some of them life without it would be completely unbearable - they look to the relief provided by professional entertainers and other media as much as a drug addict looks forward to their next hit. Without it, they could not face existing in this world.

Now no normal person has a problem with the simple pleasures of life. There is harmless entertainment that relaxes us and refreshes our minds after a hard day. Those kinds of things, used moderately, can even be a blessing to us. But that is one thing. The all-out devotion to entertainment as a major activity for which and by which people live is something completely different.

The abuse of something harmless is the essence of sin. The way that amusement has taken over such a huge portion of people's lives is a real, immediate threat to the souls of modern man. It has been built into a multibillion-dollar racket with more influence on people's minds and character than any other educational influence on earth. And the most terrifying thing is that its power is almost exclusively evil, rotting the inner life, crowding out the long eternal thoughts which would otherwise fill the souls of people, if only the people were willing to entertain them. The entire thing has grown into a veritable religion that holds its followers with a strange fascination. It has become a religion, incidentally, that is dangerous to speak against.

For centuries the Church stood solidly against every form of worldly entertainment, recognizing it for what it was - a device for wasting time, a place safe from a conscience trying to change us, a scheme to pull our attention away from moral accountability. Because she stood against it, the church was constantly abused by the world around her. But lately she has become tired of the abuse and given up the struggle.

She appears to have decided that if she cannot conquer the great god Entertainment she may as well join forces with him and do what she can with his powers. So today we have the astonishing spectacle of millions of dollars being poured into the unholy job of providing earthly entertainment for the so-called sons of heaven. Religious entertainment is quickly crowding out the serious things of God. So many churches today are little more than peddlers of shoddy products by fifth-rate "producers" with the approval of evangelical leaders who will will quote a Bible verse to defend their wrong-doings. What's worse, hardly anyone dares to raise their voice against it.

The great god Entertainment amuses his devotees mainly by telling them useless stories. The love of stories, a characteristic of children, has taken hold of the minds of the diminished saints to the extent that many make a good living simply by telling these useless and pointless stories and calling it religious speech! What is natural and beautiful in children can become shocking when it continues into adulthood, and even more so when it attempts to pass for true religion in worship.

Is it not frightening, and a wonder that, in a time when mature saints are needed so badly, that the professed followers of the Lord are giving themselves up to religious amusements, or entertainment in general? Why are so many begging for religious toys and spiritual childhood? This is a time when a lost world needs true, mature, strong people of God more than ever.

"Remember, O Lord, what is come upon us: consider, and behold our shame...The crown is fallen from our head: woe unto us, that we have sinned! For this our heart is faint; for these things our eyes are dim" (Lamentations 5:1, 16-17).

Let this not be the end of our story. Let us change and be right with the One True God, and set aside that which pulls us away from Him.


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