Title: The Great Diversion. Author: Grant Eaton.
Date: Originated: January, 1999.
Last Modified: 28 July, 2002
The Great Diversion.
Edited by Grant Eaton
"....Our politics, religion, news, athletics, education, and commerce
have been transformed into congenial adjuncts of show business, largely without protest or
even much popular notice. The result is that we are a people on the verge of amusing
ourselves to death."
It was Dr Neil Postman in Amusing Ourselves to Death (New York, Viking, 1985) and
The End of Education (Knopf, New York) that started me thinking about these
aspects of our culture's impact on effective music ministry. (Quoted in TV or Not TV, Rowland
Dr Howard Hendricks, in a seminar for Church leaders ('Creativity: Making a Difference
by Being Original' Adelaide College of Ministries, 1993) quoted A.W.Tozer's 1939
...."spoon-feed this incipit problem to our inquiring youth, and to make it
palatable, spice it up with carnal amusements, filched from the unbelieving world. It is
easier to entertain than to instruct. It is easier to follow degenerate public taste, than
to think for oneself. So too many of our evangelical leaders let their minds atrophy,
while they keep their fingers nimble, operating religious gimmicks, to bring in the
John Smith: "Music is used as an analgesic" We live in an analgesic
society...pain is for a purpose - to recognise that something is wrong and deal with the
CAUSE of the pain...Drugs, Sex and Rock 'n Roll - are analgesics commonly used to escape
temporarily from pain - and the church seem to the trend with 'feel good' concerts and
so-called Praise and Worship, when REAL issues, REAL causes of peoples' pain, are ignored.
The 'mindless state' too often prevails. What about "be not conformed to this world
but be transformed by the renewing of your MIND".
And Rowland Croucher... on being aware of the enemy's strategy.
'The devil has a particular strategy to destroy your ministry, your church, and your
denomination: you'd better know what it is. You have to identify the enemy's intentions
and tactics if you are to counter them with the spiritual weapons at our disposal.' (Sex and Pastors,
These thoughts and others have led me to pursue the following proposition:
An effective strategy of the enemy is the creation of a GREAT DIVERSION. In
contemporary western culture, one such great diversion is Entertainment.
"Live it up" "You deserve a break today" "the pursuit of
happiness" "if it feels good, do it" (and by inference, "if it
doesn't, don't.") - these are the catch-cries of our day. Whilst Entertainment has an
important role to play in our enjoyment of life, it can so easily distract us from dealing
with the real issues of life and the tragedy is that, in the process, it may distract us
from attaining the Life that God intended us to have. While it masks the passing pains, it
might also deny us the ultimate rewards of a disciplined life.
"Not Pain - No Gain", they say but "they" also are the first to
complain if their senses are starved of the latest and best the Entertainment Industry has
to offer. Athletes know the price they have to pay reach their goals. Do coaches entertain
their athletes in training sessions, keep them happy with amusements, or do they focus on
To what extent does the Entertainment Industry influence our lifestyle and patterns of
TV News and Current Affairs programmes tread a fine line between informing the
public and entertaining the public. (Jana Wendt)
For the athlete we can see evidence of music being used as a distraction from the pain and
boredom of repetitive gym or track work. With the professionalisation of sport, the
athlete's is more is increasingly more that of an entertainer. "It's more than a
game" is the hook that Australian TV uses to catch a bigger audience to our brand of
Football, and indeed it is! It's a great diversion! It is a great way to let off steam,
and distract us from the sometimes dreary and painful aspects of daily life, but it can
also become a total obsession. For some the game becomes their life, their entertainment,
their religion. What was once a welcome diversion from daily routine, and a healthy
addition to our otherwise sedentary lifestyle, is developing into an insatiable appetite
for entertainment, and the media clearly fuels the feeding frenzy. Are we then tempted to
maintain the same level of hype in our church services to engage our audience?
Muzak in the supermarkets to ease the pain of shopping - Car radios to distract from
the tensions of the freeway and traffic lights - Jingles to draw our attention to a
product. It is a very competitive world out there, and it seems, if it is not
entertaining, it's not going to sell. Entertaining music helps sales. And what about the
worshipper who has been listening to music all week as a means of escape?
For the Christian, it can so dominate our lifestyle and patterns of thinking, that even
our Church Services can become another distraction from the real issue of our response to
the Presence of God.
When confronted by the awesome presence of a Holy God, Isaiah's response was "Woe
is me" (Isaiah 6), followed shortly by "Here am I, send me." "I
really enjoyed the Service" or "The soloist was a bit off, today" seem to
be more common responses today.
Are we more concerned with of "taking up our cross, and following Christ"
Dawn, Marva. Reaching Out Without Dumbing Down Eerdmans, 1995
TV or not TV Rowland Croucher. John Mark Ministries
Dr Neil Postman in Amusing Ourselves to Death (New York, Viking, 1985) and The
End of Education (Knopf New York)
What do you think?
Your contributions are welcome:
In the meantime if you have ideas on this topic, feel free to send them to us.
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