Guest Post: Christian Philosophy of Entertainment

Angry Birds - a Christian philosophy of entertainment

Guest post by Jonathon Hill

Like over 350 million other people, I have a weakness for Angry Birds.

A recent Art of Manliness blog post left me wondering what a proper philosophy of entertainment would look like, especially for a Christian?

Entertainment is good!

In moderation, of course.

Entertainment is restful, emotionally refreshing, and of course, fun. I’m not so serious and strict as to suggest that we would be better off eliminating all recreational activity from our lives, after all…

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

Did you know that this well-known proverb has a second half?

All play and no work makes Jack a mere toy.

That’s where we get in trouble. We focus on the fun and avoid the work, because, well, it’s not fun. Without moorings to discipline and balance, we’ve become worthless, mere toys.

A Biblical foundation

The application of most of these is straightforward, so I will leave you to draw the connections. These guiding principles must shape our decisions and our values in the area of entertainment.

  • “‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ This is the great and foremost commandment.”
    Matthew 22:37-38
  • “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
    1 Corinthians 10:31
  • “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.”
    Ephesians 5:15-16

Don’t forget the end goal: to love and glorify God. It goes without saying that you cannot glorify God with things that are contrary to His holiness. My parents taught me, “Never play about something that would be wrong to do in real life.”

Making the most of your time means getting double or triple value. By making wise choices, you can realize benefits that last far after your entertainment comes to an end.

A decline from productiveness to passiveness

In the last century Americans have made more for working less and have more time on their hands. This, television, and many other factors have contributed to a decline in the quality of our entertainment choices while at the same time increasing the quantity of entertainment consumption.

Author Jay Nash saw this coming all the way back in 1938:

The machine age has, of course, already supplied an unexampled wealth of leisure and what happens? The average man who has time on his hands turns out to be a spectator, a watcher of somebody else, merely because that is the easiest thing. He becomes a victim of spectatoritis—a blanket description to cover all kinds of passive amusement, an entering into the handiest activity merely to escape boredom. Instead of expressing, he is willing to sit back and have his leisure time pursuits slapped on to him like mustard plasters—external, temporary, and, in the end, “dust in the mouth.”

Man can sleep too much. Granted freedom, many men go to sleep—“physically and mentally,” organically and cortically. Not having the drive for creative arts they turn to pre-digested pastimes, prepared in little packages at a dollar per. This has literally thrown us into the gladiatorial stage of Rome in which the number of participants becomes fewer and the size of the grandstands, larger. Spectatoritis has become almost synonymous with Americanism and the end is not yet. The stages will get small and the rows of seats will mount higher.

Quality factors

As you consider your entertainment choices, consider re-allocating your time to activities that bear some or all of these quality factors:

1. Outdoors

It’s great to be outdoors. Fresh air and sunshine are very healthy. If your entertainment choices take you outside instead of inside, that’s a plus!

2. Relationships

Given the choice between doing your favorite recreational activity alone or with another person, go for the latter, especially if it involves a family member.

3. Construction

Having something material to show for your entertainment time is one of the most visible ways to make the most of your time.

4. Skill development

So many Americans are consumers—try producing something for a change. Learning or improving skills can be incredibly fun. If you like sports, go play a game instead of just watching one. Instead of reading novels, try writing one. There are so many opportunities in our “fun” activities to improve our communication, teamwork, or professional skills that we overlook and waste.

5. Exercise

I do not need to elaborate on the benefits of exercise. Go take a hike, ride a bike, or do something, outside, with a family member, for a workout!

6. Thought

Sometimes, you need time alone, and quiet. One danger of entertainment is displacing all your thinking time. Don’t let this happen. There has never been a person whose life counted for something that didn’t spend time in thought. A restful or relaxing activity might be the perfect time to reflect.

Conclusion

This can all be summed up in this concluding statement. Consider adopting this philosophy of entertainment, and passing it on to your children:

Christians wishing to glorify God should prefer entertainment choices that provide lasting benefit to themselves or other people, in a manner that is consistent with His holiness.

Jonathon Hill is a computer geek/programmer, Tea Party organizer, political activist, Angry Birds aficionado, and all-around great guy. (He also happens to be my brother. No, I’m not prejudiced.) You can find him at JonathonHill.net.

2 Responses to “Guest Post: Christian Philosophy of Entertainment”

  1. Thanks for sharing this guest post. I especially like the list of “quality factors.” We should teach our children early to seek at least some of these factors in all that they do.
    If enough of our kids used these guidelines, they would revolutionize our country’s mental, economic, and physical health.

  2. A fascinating discussion is definitely worth comment. There’s no doubt
    that that you ought to write more about this subject, it may not be a taboo subject but usually people don’t talk about
    such subjects. To the next! All the best!!