Tuesday, January 1, 2008

If you get the Ensign...

Current mood: annoyed

Just a little note of explanation, the Ensign is an official publication of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that comes out monthly. It is an excellent source for inspirational material related to the Church. It has an international counterpart known as the Liahona and there are also two other monthly magazines that accompany the Ensign or Liahona: The New Era for youth ages 12-18 and the Friend for children. They are all excellent publications with great articles and good material, but the January 2008 Ensign had an article that made me just roll my eyes. So here is my first blog of 2008!

The article, like most in Church magazines, was written by an average member of the Church (as opposed to a church leader or magazine writer) and was entitled "Unplugged" (page 57, January 2008 Ensign). It basically tells the story of a family who moved into a new house and had it wired for satellite TV. Before it was hooked up, the cables were covered up in the attic by the insulation. They couldn't find them, so they did without TV for two weeks. IN the meantime, they discovered how much they'd been "missing" by watching TV like playing games, spending time together, and getting other projects done. When they finally did find the cables in the attic, they "arrived at an instant agreement: "Bury those wires!"" I just had to exclaim "OH NO" when I finished reading this article.

Of course I'm not opposed to spending time with family and participating in activities besides watching TV. There are many great things families can do together and activities and projects that the author mentioned are most certainly worthwhile! I am, however, opposed to people, especially in the Church, who advocate not having TV at all as some sort of higher way of life. Are you kidding me? One of the things the author mentioned was a talk by M. Russell Ballard in General Conference (which they listened to on the radio) that spoke about "the sleazy and evil entrapments of the media," which she drew the conclusion "maybe we shouldn't hook up our TV." First of all, nowhere in his talk did Elder Ballard (whom Latter-day Saints regard as an Apostle of the Lord) advocate or mention getting rid of your TV. He is simply cautioning us about the evils that can come into our homes through the MEDIA. Second, the radio is also part of the media. Just because we can't see images from the radio doesn't mean it is free of sleaze or questionable material. The same is true with books. Reading is a very powerful tool and can lead to tons of information and learning. Books, though, are also not free of the very things people dog TV and even the Internet for. It all depends on what you read, just as it depends on what you listen to or what you watch. In the end, it's all how we use the mediums of media we have access to. There is no way to totally avoid the "sleaze" in the world and isolating ourselves from the world is not an answer. Isolation just makes people out of touch and downright WEIRD. While we certainly shouldn't put ourselves in front of objectionable material or actively seek it, we should know how to deal with it and teach our children how to deal with it. Growing up, whenever we watched a program or movie that had bad language or something of the like, my mom would tell us to substitute that phrase for a better one or she would explain why we don't believe in such acts or why they were against what we believed. It helped me to be able to look past the bad parts and not dwell on them. We all have to learn how to deal with stuff like that eventually, so why not in the home with the guidance of our parents?

Of course we shouldn't just sit on our butts all day and just watch TV, but the argument that there's "nothing good on TV anymore" is not a very good one. Again, it's all a matter of what you're watching. I have seen many great programs that are entertaining, educational, or both on many many channels, not just the BYU channel (which I think is overall a pretty boring channel!). For those of you with cable or satellite, check out stuff on the History Channel, Discovery, the Learning Channel, and even places like ESPN or Fox Sports Net. Even the regular networks have overall good programming that is suitable for families, depending on the time of the day. You just have to be aware of what you are watching just like you need to be aware of what you are reading. Along with this, watching TV isn't always the mind-numbing experience some people make it out to be. We can learn a lot from TV programs, especially from the news. I'll be the first to point out the biases that exist in the news media, but it is still a way for us to know and see what is going on in the world. For members of the church, being a good citizen is part of being a good Latter-day Saint and one cannot really be the best citizen if they are ignorant of current events in my opinion. And let's not forget that not everyone learns best by reading; many people are visual learners and there are many times that a TV program can help someone understand a concept in a way no book could ever hope for (and vice versa!). We need to follow the counsel of moderation in all things. Too much of anything, including TV, video games, or Internet use, isn't a good thing, but complete avoidance of them isn't good either.

Obviously the Church itself does not consider TV and the media completely evil. The Church broadcasts General Conference on TV every 6 months and most local chapels are equipped with a satellite dish that can get other programs besides just church-related ones. Further, the church has produced many TV commercials and the media has been a big part in spreading the gospel and getting our message out to more and more people. It certainly does more than isolating ourselves in our homes and becoming an ignorant people.


LDS Drama Queen (Becky); January 1, 2008
You're right, of course. Hate to say it but most of the crazy people who think this way live in COUGHutahCOUGH. As soon as people start saying we need to get rid of TV, they better be saying we need to get rid of radio, books, magazines (including the ENSIGN she sent that article to!), computers, and hey, even telephones. Go back to the stone ages and MAYBE you will be able to be "closer to God".

I agree, moderation in all things is the key. Gene R. Cook of the seventy said that Satan is found in the extremes. How true!!

Nari; January 1, 2008
I'm obsessed with Animal Planet. I've learned so many random things from that channel.

I'm not obsessed with t.v. anymore (now it's the internet instead lol) but I'd be lying if I told you that I could live happily without it. What oh what would I do without American Idol, Desperate Housewives, and trashy reality television? We'd have nothing to talk about at work!
Anyway, good blog!

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