Tonight’s study, Lord willing, will be on how the lordship of Christ affects how we think about entertainment. Not that this will be some sort of hack-fest about entertainment choices (although, of course, that is an issue…), but instead it seems like there are big things we can find in the scriptures, things that get to the root of what kind of life we want to live, and are called to live. Like, what is entertainment? And why does our culture love it so much? And what does the Gospel have to do with any of this?
If you look long enough, you’ll find that someone else has already said what you’re feeling like saying. In this case, I didn’t have to look very long–A.W. Tozer was ruminating on these things a generation ago. This is vintage Tozer, and right up the line with the things I think the Lord would have us chew on. I may read from this tonight, but here it is for you now…
A German philosopher many years ago said something to the effect that the more a man has in his own heart the less he will require from the outside; excessive need for support from without is proof of the bankruptcy of the inner man.
If this is true (and I believe it is) then the present inordinate attachment 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 spring within his own breast, no inner strength to place him above the need for repeated psychological shots to give him the courage to go on living. He has become a parasite on the world, drawing his life from his environment unable to live a day apart from the stimulation which society affords him.
Schleiermacher held that the feeling of dependence lies at the root of all religious worship, and that however high the spiritual life might rise it must always begin with a deep sense of a great need which only God could satisfy. If this sense of need and a feeling of dependence are at the root of natural religion it is not hard to see why the great god Entertainment is so ardently worshiped by so many. For there are millions who cannot live without amusement; life without some form of entertainment for them is simply intolerable; they look forward to the blessed relief afforded by professional entertainers and other forms of psychological narcotics as a dope addict looks to his daily shot of heroin. Without them they could not summon courage to face existence.
No one with common human feeling will object to the simple pleasures of life, nor to such harmless forms of entertainment as may help to relax the nerves and refresh the mind exhausted by toil. Such things if used with discretion may be a blessing along the way. That is one thing. The all-out devotion to entertainment as a major activity for which and by which men live is definitely something else again.
The abuse of a harmless thing is the essence of Sin. The growth of the amusement phase of human life to such fantastic proportions is a portent, a threat to the souls of modern men. It has been built into a multimillion dollar racket with greater power over human minds and human character than any other educational influence on earth. And the ominous thing is that its power is almost exclusively evil, rotting the inner life, crowding out the long eternal thoughts which would fill the souls of men if they were but worthy to entertain them. And the whole thing has grown into a veritable religion which holds its devotees with a strange fascination, and a religion, incidentally, against which it is now dangerous to speak.