Lenten Reflections, Weeks Three and Four
My Fast from Electronic Entertainment Continues, Maddeningly
These last two weeks have been more difficult for me. When you depend on something to help you cope through moments of discouragement or anger, you don’t know what to do when you can’t turn to it anymore. I have had multiple days in the last couple weeks where I allowed circumstances from my day to discourage or anger me and I desperately wanted to run from those situations by turning on the TV at night or turning on the radio in the car.
And I’m hearing the addict’s rallying cry ringing louder and louder in my ears: “What’s one night of TV going to hurt? You’re just watching for one night. No big deal!” See, I’m in the withdrawal process. And I write this on the eve of the NCAA Basketball Tournament. I am truly entering my personal March Madness. I want TV. My tired/discouraged/angered mind wants TV. It’s comfort food. I need it to soothe my soul.
Some people have interpreted my fast from TV/Radio/Internet entertainment as my recognition of electronic media as something inherently evil that leads me away from God. There is certainly much on the air that is junk food at best and unredemptive at worst. But there are some programs that are just enjoyable and a few that are redemptive. We could debate for weeks on which shows fall into each category. But my reason for this fast is that I recognize that my life’s rhythms are dependent upon media and I want my life to be moved by a different rhythm–one that beats with devotion to my most important relationships, that skips with passion for serving others and one that is more open to spirit-guided riffs and improvisation. The less necessities I have in my life, the freer I am. Addictions bind. Simplicity frees. I want more freedom. I want to find greater joy in life by needing less.
By sharing my fast publically, I’m risking getting my entire reward by subtly hoping you’re impressed with my discipline and denial (see Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount). But trust me: this isn’t rewarding. Right now, I just want to turn everything on. I’m exposed as an addict. Lent is as advertised. It’s no fun. I am experiencing death. Bring on the Resurrection!