” Some are saying that in the next generation, the government’s chief job will be to devise ways of keeping a growing mass of people entertained, because machines will have taken their jobs” No Little People, Schaeffer p. 85.
Schaeffer was quite prophetic as he wrote in the 1970’s, and even then he had some cautionary words about the Christian soul and entertainment/technologies effect on it.
“People today are afraid to be alone. This fear is a dominant mark upon our society. Many now ceaselesly sit in the cinema or read novels about other people’s lives or watch dramas. Why? Simply to avoid facing their own existence. Many of us can sit in front of the television and, except on rare occasions, not face our own private life. Entertainment so fills every cranny of our culture we can easily escape thinking.”
Is this true? I know it pricks my conscience as I think about my own propensity to “zone out” in front of the television rather than engage with life. What does Schaeffer mean by saying “we are afraid to face our own existence?”
But wait he keeps going.
“So is the one who stands with the transistor radio plugged in his ear much of the day. No one seems to want (and no one can find) a place for quiet–because when you are quiet, you have to face reality. But many in the present generation dare not do this because on their own basis reality leads them to meaninglessness; so they fill their lives with entertainment, even if it is only noise.”
The last sentence hits hard. Yet it might be why we live in a culture that never considers its own mortality or finitness. Most of us go on living as if we have forever. We forget to heed the words of James 4.
Schaeffer concludes with saying, “The Christian is supposed to be the very opposite. There is a place for proper entertainment, but we are not to be caught up in ceaseless motion which prevents us from ever being quiet. Rather we are to put everthing second so we can be alive to the voice of God and allow him to speak to us and confront us.”
Please read this twice and let it sink in. It may sound obvious but it is hard to hear and commune with God when our lives are so filled with noise, like trying to have a conversation at a Las Vegas night club. Schaeffer begs with us to make ourselves alive to silence. To give way to quietness for the sake of our soul. Wrestle with your existence and now that you are finite and your life is short.
When I was in college one of my favorite verses was Isaiah 30: 15.
This is what the LORD the Holy One of Israel, says:
In repentence and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.