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Topic: Entertainment    Title: The Great Diversion.  Author: Grant Eaton.
Date: Originated: January, 1999.  Last Modified: 28 July, 2002

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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 Croucher.)

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 insight...
...."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 curious crowds."

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, Rowland Croucher)

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 their goal?

To what extent does the Entertainment Industry influence our lifestyle and patterns of thinking?




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"    


Suggested Reading:

Dawn, Marva. Reaching Out Without Dumbing Down Eerdmans, 1995
TV or not TV Rowland Croucher. John Mark Ministries <http://www.pastornet.net.au>
Dr Neil Postman in Amusing Ourselves to Death (New York, Viking, 1985) and The End of Education (Knopf New York)

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