Monday, September 10, 2007

To iPod or not to iPod, that is the question

When I left my former ministry, one of the gracious gifts from those folks was a 30 GB iPod. It's black, engraved with an inscription commemorating the occasion, and highly cool. Now those of you who know me well know that I am not the "tech savvy" person in our house. If it's electronic, it's highly likely that I do not know how it works, but my wife does. (Incidentally, the same principle applies with sports). At any rate, over the past week or so we have been moving our mountain of CDs over to our iPods (Yes, we have two now. Karen wanted a stereo cabinet to hide the stereo and all the CDs in and another iPod with a docking stereo was cheaper, so there you go).

In the process of that occurring, I have been teaching through 1 Peter, which has quite a bit to say about personal holiness. One of the things I made a point of this week (accurate to the text, I believe) is that achieving holiness requires vigilance about what we put into our minds. Which leads me back to my iPod. I have some CDs which don't exactly uphold the finest aspects of a Christian worldview, but which nevertheless contain music that I enjoy. So I am in a quadary right now.

I am not under the Law, and grace allows me the freedom to listen to whatever I wish. But what if The Police or Alan Jackson are leading me further away from, rather than closer to, walking with God? And how do I know which is occurring? And to what degree is it important to maintain some familiarity with the wider culture? And if it is important to be culturally aware (even to the point of knowing pagan poetry well enough to quote it, as Paul did and I can), then how can one maintain cultural awareness without internalizing the culture's values?


David Isgitt said...

Thanks for sharing your struggle about what you put into your mind. This is something I think about frequently, and having children in my house has clarified my perspective. For example, movies: of the few DVDs I own, I've got a few violence-drenched ones like Terminator 2 and The Matrix. Now, I enjoy these movies, and I have for a long time, and I even have certain memories associated with them (who I saw them with, what was going in my life at the time, etc.). But do I want my sons discovering these and asking me about them? No, I don't, and if I don't want them consuming media like this, then why do I hold myself to a different standard?

More and more often I'm realizing that the line we draw between what's appropriate for children vs. what we can watch as adults is quite fuzzy, and very often not Biblically founded. Can violence serve a purpose in telling a meaningful story? I believe it can, because violence is a reality in the lives of some who have great stories to tell, but we have to discern between gratuitous violence and "contextual violence."

I even doubt this principle at times, though. I am not one of those Christians who will ever watch "The Passion of the Christ"--I just don't need to expose myself to depictions of Christ's torture and crucifixion in order to deepen my faith. There are so many other ways I can appreciate what Jesus did, and whether or not I watch "Passion" is not a litmus test of my walk with God.

To sum up--I don't think it's possible to draw a hard line on this topic that's right for everyone, but I do think we all need to consider the degree to which we've become comfortable with the messages of mass media. In my case with the movies I mentioned above, my desire to be a good example to my children and keep my mind unencumbered by violent images supercedes any pleasure from watching those movies or any emotional connection I might have with them. I'll be dropping them off at Half Price Books soon. :-) Looks like I'm writing my own blog now! Thanks again Joe for sharing your thoughts.

The Bullhorn said...

Thanks for sharing your struggles in this area also. It seems the question of motives comes up again and again in decisions I make. "Love God and do as you please isn't easy sometimes." In fact, a part of me thinks that it isn't meant to be. Sometimes I wonder if the old fundamentalists, who didn't "dance, smoke, drink or chew or go with any girls who do" weren't actually onto someting, albeit for the wrong reasons. Their problem was that they thought their list = righteousness and holy living. Too bad that real holiness isn't quite so easily achievable. My heart and my motives behind my choices are just as important as the choices themselves.

Greg said...

If I were you I would get rid of Alan Jackson simply because he sings country music - and country music is cheesy - and surely cheesy music is not glorifying to God.

The Bullhorn said...

Ah yes, well, eye of the beholder and all that. So you'd be good with The Police and perhaps others assuming they meet the definition of "non-cheesy"?