Even Our Amusements Matter

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For me one of the difficult aspects of Christian life to internalize is that there are no compartments. It isn't possible to be part-Christian. God is a God of extremes. As I've often said before, it is "all or nothing at all." Too often, I find myself fighting this notion, most particularly as regards my amusements and diversions.

This notion came to mind because I happened to pass a colleague's cube at work. I heard him describing a "game that's like Monopoly only you can unleash viruses and total nuclear destruction on your opponents." I had to physically restrain myself from saddling up my hobby horse and riding it to death. To explain, I have studied psychology professionally, and I have yet to decide on the issue of whether playing such games is a release of aggression or an inculcation of aggression. I tend to think it is something that differs from individual to individual. As a very aggressive individual myself, I have found that playing games such as Doom or Quake tended to reinforce aggressive tendencies. I found I was less cooperative and more strident in my dealing with others, most particularly those close to me. I do not mean to imply that this happens to everyone, but I suspect that there are about half of us for whom this is the rule.

This tendency suggests that we need to be cautious in all of the things we take in as entertainment. We must choose our books and movies and music with a Christian framework in mind. I have recently adopted a standard that if I would not want Samuel doing it (whatever IT may be) I will refrain from it myself.

Our entertainment affects us--some people more than others. Something seen cannot be unseen; something read cannot be unread--the harm is done. I learned this the hard way through sad experience. And there are some things better left unseen, some things better left unread, some actions better never tried. God has been merciful to me, and so I have few of these things in my past, but they act as markers and reminders. When someone asks me if I want to see such-and-such a movie, I simply recall one or other examples and have a ready answer.

Being Christian means that all of our actions are drawn into the Christian realm. Everything we do affects the community of the body of Christ. Our sinfulness, our oversights, affect the entire body--that is part of the need for and meaning of reconciliation or penance. It is not only a private act between penitent and priest, but also a public act which seeks to redress and repair the breeches we have created in the body of Christ through our sinful actions. Our focus is often on ourselves, but the effect of grace is such as to touch both us and the body as a whole. As we are repaired and restored, so the body is healed. We cannot compartmentalize--we cannot separate out certain things and separate them from our Christian vocation. As John Donne said in a different context,

Meditation XVII
John Donne

No man is an island, entire of itself every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were. Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls it tolls for thee.

Our actions affect all who hold to the truth we hold, so our amusements matter. Don't fool yourself into thinking that they are optional or meaningless. There is nothing in the life of a Christian that is meaningless. Even the smallest thing is a matter of great import in heaven. When we keep this in mind, it becomes easier to act in cooperation with grace. If we ask, God always gives us the strength to do what is right, fitting, and to His greater glory.

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Dear Steven,

In four sentences: Knew it. Don't do it. Need to hear it. Thank you.


Indeed sir, everything! It took me decades to understand and it is a valuable lesson. Well said, nice post!



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on February 17, 2006 9:37 AM.

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