Now that summer is upon us, we’re looking at what to do about our television viewing habits. I know some families that enforce a no-TV-summer. I am impressed by those folks but that’s not us. Nevertheless, I’d like to give up cable.
I am tired of paying for channels I have no interest in watching. There are many options for us so-called “cable cutters.” My favorite option is to buy a rather expensive box that picks up over the air (free) broadcast channels from the major networks. It has a 1 terabyte hard drive to record as much as my heart desires and there is no monthly subscription fee. The downside is that I won’t be able to watch my favorite cooking shows. But if I am willing to pay for cable channels, there are internet based viewing options that stream right into that fancy and expensive box.
It appears the TV viewing world is heading toward an a la carte system. Viewers like me want to pay only for what we watch. For instance, I’d like to watch ESPN but I have no desire to watch any of the plethora of ESPN-related channels. I’d like to watch the Food Network but don’t want to be yoked into paying for MTV and Bravo just to get the one network I want. I have friends that love the Golf channel and Bloomberg News but never would watch the Food Network or AMC. They too are frustrated at the pay-for-all cable setup. That system is a little bit like going to the movies to watch one particular film but having to pay to watch all the other movies, too. Or, it is like buying a ticket to watch the Padres but also for admission to the other ballparks in California.
Our world seems to becoming more compartmentalized, specialized, customized and focused on catering to our own perceived needs and wants. One example of this is how I used to watch cartoons – they were available on Saturday morning, period. Today, my children can watch cartoons on a variety of devices (TV, tablet, phone, computer) whenever they want. In our compartmentalized and customized world, I wonder how this affects our spiritual lives. How relevant is church when we want something our way? The Church says, “Jesus is the way, the truth and the life,” yet our culture says, “Have it your way.”
We believe in a personal savior which is to say that Jesus knows us personally. When we pray, it usually is a very personal, tailored prayer for ourselves and our unique concerns. Likewise, when we read the Bible, it is absorbed into ourselves in a very personal way. How many of us are moved personally when we hear the opening words of Psalm 23, “The Lord is my shepherd.” At the same time, we have corporate worship on Sundays. Our services are not tailored or customized for our independent, individualized needs or concerns. We don’t even have a say in the liturgical color of the day (green, by the way, this Sunday). Yet, it is through our corporate worship, through reciting ancient prayers and reading of God’s word, that we get a sense of a God who knows us personally. And, although God may want to have an a la carte approach to us as individuals, God loves all of us. No exceptions. The bread that Jesus raised up, broke, and said “Take, eat,” wasn’t just for a few particular people Jesus liked or had a preference for, it was for everyone – Judas included. Likewise, the death and resurrection of Jesus wasn’t just for a particular elect or secret group. His resurrection opened the way for all who believe.