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Lent Update: No TV…ever? March 31, 2011

Posted by mjhoward in Spiritual Formation, TV.
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5 comments

I’ve been without TV for 3 weeks now.  I’ve discovered that when TV is not an option, I just don’t miss it.  Even when Ted is away on business trips, when I would usually turn on the TV just to have another voice in the house, I find comfort in the silence of reading a book.

This discovery has caused me to have a serious conversation with Ted about giving up TV all together.  Ted really only watches TV when a Cowboy game is on, but I, in my pre-Lenten life, would come home, turn on the tube and not really do much of anything else.  With no TV, the world has opened up to me.  That conversation forced me to ask this question of myself:  is watching TV preventing me from doing something useful, purposeful, and for the glory of God?  I’m afraid to say, that the answer has been yes.

My world really has changed for the better without TV.  Because I don’t watch TV, I have time to blog.  I am no longer a consumer but a creator.  Because I don’t watch TV, I pray more often.  I have the time to think of others and what I should be doing for them.  Because I don’t watch TV, I’ve finished 6 books!  Because I don’t watch TV, I don’t look at the TiVo and see what shows “must” be watched, like an entertainment to-do list.  Because I don’t watch TV, I didn’t renew my subscription to Entertainment Weekly magazine.  Because I don’t watch TV, Ted and I are able to talk for hours on end.

Yes, there are some downsides to not watching TV: I won’t talk or even know about the latest catchphrases (“I want to go to there” will date my last TV viewing); I won’t have an easy conversation starter (I suppose I’ll have to talk about something more real — eeks!); I’ll miss some really interesting shows and good writing (If a new version of Lost ever emerges or when Downton Abbey returns to PBS); I’ll really miss watching my version of sports (So You Think You Can Dance); and I really want to know what happens to Angela and Hodgins on Bones!

But are these parts of watching TV worth it?

6 weeks of no TV is easy, but can I really go a lifetime?  I don’t know, nor do I know if I really want to cut myself off completely.  Maybe I’ll know when Easter rolls around.

Have you ever given up something for Lent that you considered giving up forever?

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2011 Lent Experiment March 15, 2011

Posted by mjhoward in Spiritual Formation.
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3 comments

This year for Lent I have chosen to give up watching television.  This should be a bit easier for me than last year’s Lent experiment, but this will still take some effort because I am a binge TV watcher.  I won’t watch for a while, but will suddenly find a show on Netflix that I must finish watching all 6 seasons of in one week.

That show for me this year is Bones.  I’m a sucker for off-beat crime procedurals, rife with sexual tension between the two main characters (I loved The X-Files too).  I even had a Mardi Gras Bones marathon that began the Saturday before Lent.  I got all the way through season 3, and finished the Yanks in the U.K. episodes of season 4.  Spoiler alert (even though I’m way behind on this show):  I can’t believe Angela and Hodgins broke up!  As is revealed by this last statement, I can get way too caught up in the lives of fictional characters and not pay enough attention to living human beings.

I’ve only been on the TV fast for a few days, but I’m already noticing some positive benefits. I feel more restful.  It’s strange, but I didn’t realize how much silence can do a body good.    I never realized that the constant noise of the TV is what could possibly be making me anxious.  I have many times turned on the TV, just as background noise while folding laundry or even reading.  Some households that I have visited lately, never seem to turn the TV off.  It is always there, beckoning a part of your attention, even when you are trying to have a conversation or eat a meal together.  Not having the TV on at all here has created this nice, warm pocket of silence that feels like that peace that surpasses all understanding.

I’ve also become more productive. When watching TV isn’t an option, time seems limitless.  I’ve been wanting to do some in-depth Bible study for a while, and I now I actually have the time to do it.  I feel as if I’ve found this black-hole portal to a dimension where I have time to clean my house, write four blog posts, read a chapter in my esoteric N.T. Wright book, read the book of John, and grade papers, all in the same day.  I’m also finding the time to write notes of encouragement, which I’m sad to say, is sorely needed when I know of so many who’ve lost loved ones.

I’ve also rediscovered good old board games. Instead of watching a movie, Ted and I played Trivial Pursuit (I won’t tell you who won because I’m still sore about it).  We had a great time making fun of the questions and learning about things neither of us thought the other knew.

I still have several weeks to go, but I’m predicting that the time-sucker that is TV will not be missed by me.