Sunday, October 19, 2014

If Food for the Stomach, Why Not the Mind? (Asking One of the Dead Greek Guys)

Let me ask you a question.  If you knew your oatmeal was laced with arsenic, would you continue to eat it?  That may seem too loaded a question, so let me put this to you a different way.  If you found out kale was actually as unhealthful as high fructose corn syrup, do you think people would continue to eat it as we do now?

If we really thought about it, the logical next step would be to discontinue eating it.

Now look at the same topic again from a different vantage point.  When someone repeatedly drinks too much, they’re said to be addicted.  This carries the threat of bad health and death from complications.  The same goes for smoking.  The same goes for any behavior that can be dubbed addictive.  These are widely accepted precepts.

Next I’ll turn your attention to the idea of entertainment.  Music.  Books.  Games.  Movies.  These are meant to engineer “fun.”  They facilitate “escapism.”  And me—well, I’m a creative type who loves to encourage my imagination.  Imagination is how I get those deep thoughts churning for the writing I love so well.  I’ve got a doctor’s excuse, right?  And if this escapism is actually killing my soul?

Oh, we’re not supposed to think in terms like that.  We must keep things light, fluffy, and as full of substance as cotton candy.  But cotton candy rots our teeth, which are designed to slice through meat and break down vegetables.  I’m probably getting too esoteric, so I’ll break it down in blunt terms.

Think of a time when you watched a movie right before going to bed and had a dream with some of the same ingredients as the movie.  (For me, a recent example was dreaming about being operated on after a House marathon.)  The escapism lingered in my mind.  It affected me even after the fun was over.

People ask me all the time:  “Why no R-rated movies?”  “Why don’t you listen to secular music?”  And you know, sometimes, I don’t feel like I have a solid reason.  Recently, however, my resolve was renewed.

I read a book that has been lauded for about 20 years; it’s currently enjoying success on a cable mini-series.  It was so highly touted that I thought I’d give the author a shot.  Being an 800-page epic, I knew it would keep me occupied for a while.  The first 200 pages were slow going, but things got intriguing after that.  Then, I started noticing something:  the negative, bad events in the story lingered in my mind like a trauma that happened to me.  Scenes echoed in my head like the words of a top-40 song in department stores.  It felt like everywhere I turned my thoughts led back to that same garbage.

I felt like I needed to spring-clean my mind.

Some ask, why no R-rated movies?  Because I can’t unsee what I’ve seen.  Because I can’t put my brain in a bath and Calgon-away the memories of something that injures my humanity.  Because I have been down that road before, and I know it doesn’t lead anywhere good.  Scattered from beginning to the end of the Bible, I read that the faithful will see God’s face…  I want that.

Some ask, why no secular music?  Because words have power.  Words I say and words I hear.  If Mark Twain could live a month on a good compliment and I’m charged with speaking life to people around me, I can’t intentionally pour a deadly poison in someone’s ear.  Because the ear tests words the way the tongue tastes food (Job 12:11).

Some say, why not continue if you have already begun?  Because I will not continue to eat arsenic-laced oatmeal.  No, I cannot put my mind in a bath and receive a convenient case of amnesia.  But Jesus can cleanse me (i.e. Luke 17).  When I call His name and ask Him to wash away the filth I invited into my mind, my mouth, my life, He washes me.  Just like He did with the lepers along the road.  He says the word, and it’s done.

“Go.  The opposite direction you were going before.”

When I get whirled around and disoriented.  When I start walking on the old road on purpose.  He meets me and says, “Go.  The opposite direction you were going before" (i.e. Prov. 24:16).

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