In the "medium" of television . . .
14. Medium TV, Medium Life
Consider a new perspective on the entertainment value of television and the value you place on television in your life. How much time do you spend watching television? I watch more than I care to admit.
I spend a lot of time in my house since I work from home. The television is on for noise, company, or auditory companionship, even if I'm not seated directly in front of the TV watching it. I spend so much time at home that sometimes I feel like a hermit or a monk. I ought to get out more, but that's another matter. I'd like to complete the monk analogy.
The word monk usually brings to mind a bearded old man in a long belted robe, possibly with some type of cap on his head, or perhaps totally clean-shaven, with hands in a position of reverence.
There must be some kind of religious rule about covering one's head--mantillas in the old Catholic Church, yarmulkas in the Jewish tradition, turbans and berka in the Muslim culture.
Perhaps these traditions are somehow connected to the concept of a spiritual crown point on the head, familiar to those with knowledge of meditation. Specific religion/ affiliation input about the covering of heads, and why, would be appreciated in order to expand this article. Many religions require a head covering, but why really?
I know the focus of my daily attention is usually in the direction my head points. Hence the enhanced visualization of a monk with his eyes closed-- yet not asleep--and head bent in reverence.
The Discovery Channel's airing of "Monks, Hermits, and Saints" proved interesting, informational, and thought-provoking.
Everyone these days has a television in the house, or in several rooms of the home. Televisions come in all sizes, shapes, and prices. Note the financial value of your own television and the custom options you have chosen (cable/pay channels). Not everyone would want to have a big-screen TV. Even if they had the money to buy a big entertainment system, they might not have the space. Buying a new television is a very personally exciting and individual experience.
I would find it difficult to calculate the amount of time I spend in daily prayer and meditation. I do try to check in with God, otherwise known as my Higher Power, on a daily basis. Some days I don't "check-in" until I get in the car to go somewhere. Since 9/11 I have had a rosary (with some beads missing) hanging from my rearview mirror. When I reach the first signal light, I'll touch it, thank God for keeping me safe so far, and ask Him to please continue to--keeping me even safer and more protected and in His grace for the rest of the day since I checked in and asked for all I could get. I ask to not be in a car wreck. I ask for all I can until the signal light changes and I need to refocus my attention.
Similarly, during the day, I take "breaks" to check in with God. My actions are not distracting or particularly visible unless I'm alone. I'll often read spiritual or philosophical type books. I enjoy The Course in Miracles. Not everyone would identify with my particular choices of reading material. Nobody seemed to appreciate the Hare Krishnas that used to hang out at the airports either.
I talk to God before I go to sleep at night. Sometimes I start the Catholic rosary in my head (without the beads), saying "Our Father" and "Hail Mary" until the monotony lulls me to sleep. Sometimes I just ask God to send His special grace and protection to people I've known. I start the list of who, among my acquaintances, needs it most. I detail the trials in their lives. Then I start remembering all the people I've known in my life and pray for them. I fall asleep before I finish.
Sometimes I'll listen to a cassette tape. My favorites are by Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dwyer, Marianne Williamson, and the Dalai Lama. While going through body relaxation exercises, I visualize what I'm hearing. Every night I make an effort to talk to God in some way.
However, the number of minutes during the day I spend in prayer and meditation doesn't compare to the amount of time my attention is on the television. When I pay attention to TV, I'm not praying or meditating. I do try to watch programming that doesn't conflict with my personal values. I often change the station when, after 10-15 minutes of viewing. I can deduce where the story is going, and determine whether or not I want to go there.
It's difficult to avoid violence by watching television these days. "They," say, "If you don't like the show, change the channel or turn the TV off." I don't enjoy watching programs that leave me feeling bad when they're over. It feels like precious time wasted.
I've determined that I need a crucifix, or some icon, sitting on top of the TV. Visual reminders help me.
Has television replaced religion in our culture? Do we sit entranced, enraptured, with our entire being focused on the screen? Do our minds disconnect from everything, sending us off to a state of sleep in dreamland? White noise does not require attention, but it will keep us from thinking.
Is it possible, currently, for us to give God the same attention without some spectacular Hollywood production? You may attend worship services in the church of your choice or do "your own thing" with the concept of spirituality in general. In either case, how is your reception?
Does it count if you sleep in church? Perhaps one should not make any assumptions about the relationship between God and another person. Maybe it's none of anyone's business. God and the sleeping may be experiencing some spiritual awakening of which no one else is aware.
No one is allowed to make religious decisions for another adult. To do so isn't acceptable in this country. Families manage to compromise on what shows are watched, or perhaps the breadwinner decides for everyone. If you get in the way of the screen when anyone is watching, you're certain to be asked--or told--to get out of the way. There is an almost miraculous relationship between some people and their TV sets.
How long could you go without TV? Would the way you live your life be very different?
How long can you go without a relationship of some sort with a Higher Power? The connection is there to plug in. These days, can we be quiet enough to listen to God?
Television offers a wide variety of programming for entertainment and information. Technology in general has enhanced our lives. We have washers and dryers, dishwashers, microwave ovens, cars--and the list goes on and on--that make life itself more convenient. Certainly, humanity’s advances have not replaced our need for peace and tranquility. Technology seldom leaves me in a state of peace, especially when my computer crashes.
I hope that television has not replaced God. However, there is evidence to argue the point.
One person can make a difference. Choose to THINK, PROCESS, and DEDUCE, rather than merely "turning on, tuning in, and dropping out."
There seems to be no problem looking the television in the eye. When you talk to people, are you, are we, able to open ourselves to eye-to-eye communication? "They say, The eyes are the window to the soul."