The Francis Asbury Society

FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 8/12

Posted on | August 12, 2015 | Comments Off on FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 8/12

AUGUST 12
scripture reading: Ecclesiastes 2:1–11

Amusing Ourselves to Death

In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle . . . David remained in Jerusalem. It happened, late one afternoon, when David rose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful. (II Samuel 11:1–2)

Few books have given a more insightful analysis of our cultural obsession with entertainment than Neil Postman’s classic Amusing Ourselves to Death. On the first page he warns of what happens to a nation when its citizens become addicted to “show business.”

Today, we must look to the city of Las Vegas, Nevada, as a metaphor of our national character and aspiration, its symbol a thirty-foot-high cardboard picture of a slot machine and a chorus girl. For Las Vegas is a city entirely devoted to the idea of entertainment, and as such proclaims the spirit of a culture in which all public discourse increasingly takes the form of entertainment. Our politics, religion, news, athletics, education and commerce have been transformed into congenial adjuncts of show business, largely without protest or even much popular notice. The result is that we are a people on the verge of amusing ourselves to death.

King David would be a good illustration of what happens to someone who lays aside his adult responsibilities so that he can . . . well, amuse himself. His sin with Bathsheba began when he declined his duty to lead his troops into battle and rather stayed home in Jerusalem looking for “entertainment.” He was in danger of literally amusing himself (and others!) to death.

Many years ago I came across a book by Amy Carmichael in which she recounted a very troubling dream. The verbal picture she painted haunts me still. In her night vision she saw a horrifying scene: Thousands of people were in a grassy field walking unknowingly toward a precipice. The chasm was as deep as hell. None seemed aware of the danger they faced as they walked calmly forward. Then one by one they fell into the yawning abyss, their screams echoing through the canyon. The horror of her dream was intensified by what she saw next: Then I saw, like a picture of peace, a group of people under some trees, with their backs turned toward the gulf. They were making daisy chains. Some- times when a piercing shriek cut the quiet air and reached them it disturbed them, and they thought it rather a vulgar noise. And if one of their number started up and wanted to go and do something to help, then all the others would pull that one down. “Why should you get so excited about it? You must wait for a definite call to go! You haven’t finished your daisy chain yet.”

Dear Lord, forgive us for making “daisy chains” while thousands around us are tumbling into hell. Forgive us for amusing ourselves (and others) to death! Let us hear the cries of the lost today. Let our hearts be troubled and deeply disturbed by the fate of those who don’t know you. Deliver us from our addiction to entertainment, and cast out the demon of sloth. Awaken us from our spiritual stupor and enable us to put aside our petty preoccupations so that we can join with you in working for the redemption of the world. Amen.

If I thought I could win one more soul to the Lord by walking on my head and playing the tambourine with my toes, I’d learn how!
—William Booth

point to ponder • With the onslaught of social media, TV, movies, and smart phones (and who-knows-what lying around the corner), how much of your life is devoted to amusement that leads to nothing?

prayer focus • Meditate on what is behind your drive to fill time with stuff that counts for nothing. Confess these petty preoccupations before God.

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