Monday, January 17, 2011

The Parable of the Prison Wall

I had found this Mennonite handout which I then took the liberty to change a little bit. Now it captures the spirit of what happened to me after I got rid of my television set. I began to detoxify and intensify my mind apart from the T.V., which I never had watched excessively anyway. That thing which had always been considered the "idiot box". The seemingly harmless, very entertaining, seemingly miraculous moving picture screen, which can make anything and everything seem real, when, of course, none of it is. And in the course of presenting it's own make-believe reality (I'm talking about movies and stories), it competes with real life to define our reality for us. And it wins.

Instead of watching the T.V., I've gone about to learning the German language, science, health, about God's miraculous words, His presence here on earth, and even about the many provocative little curiosities that come to mind throughout the day (thinking and reading about how this and that works, and about how this or that is made). With that computer in front of you, you, as well, have a beautiful tool with which to do that. And beautifully, I managed to find a rich, plain, spiritual people to be around (that is, when I need to be around someone), who build their 'real lives' meaningfully and plainly on the words of God, with which, in the company of His Spirit, He did not leave us here alone.

I found this handout (granted, especially after changing it a little) to be a nice illustration of what happened when I made a break through the hole in the wall; and now, what it's like looking back at the problematic world of the T.V. from the outside.

The picture on the prison wall was impressive -- a quiet lake, forests of richly colored trees, rolling hills , and clear, blue skies. Three inmates worked long hours to paint the scene.

Then they added one more outstanding detail. All around the edge of the picture, they cleverly painted in the gray of the prison wall to look like a broken wall. Now it appears that one is looking through a gaping hole in the high block wall to the beauty beyond. Apparently they are reminding themselves that the full reality of the scene can only be realized outside the prison walls. -- they are restricted in the enjoyment of that beauty.

What a lesson for us! Without the gift of the Spirit we are bound in a prison of temporary and fleeting pleasure. Inside the prison we try to find pleasure and satisfaction. We create illusions and imagine all sorts of things that may bring fulfillment. We pursue watching sports and entertainment. We seek wealth and try to buy our way out of boredom or stress with money. But again and again we are brought back to the cold hard reality of our prison wall.

The artistic inmates understand an important element of their condition. They can get a moments satisfaction when they view the scene on the wall, but the true beauty is beyond. They cannot sense the calm of the quiet lake, the stately grandeur of the trees, and the peace of the rolling hills. They can only imagine it and long for it.

Likewise we cannot find true peace while being held captive by the t.v.

We turn it off and it has left us with nothing; nothing, but further dependence on it.

Be careful. It's easy to be one of these captives. And, if you are one, then you truly may not know what you are missing outside of it's walls. High definition t.v. will truly bring a life which is highly defined by t.v. . . ., creating a distant, distorted view of things for you that only has meaning within it's own walls. Staged, concocted, highly scripted, if not - most of the time - purely pretend. And it's fun. At least what little there is that has any creativity or artistry left in it. But the danger is that it can, and does, take the place of things that we should have a more real perspective of.

As it continues to create it's own manufactured reality, I often wonder what is happening as . . . it out-competes the larger reality.

All I'm sure of is of the good things that have happened to my time since I've set it aside. May you experience the same.

Leave the nasty thing behind. Visit the T.V. on your computer once in a while. Wean yourself from it slowly. There's a whole big world out . . . don't let the T.V. completely twist it and dumb it down for you! Science..., literature..., reinvigorate your curiosity! Reality is so much neater than fiction. Inexhaustible, incredible, real.

There. I had to get that out.


CarolB said...

I totally agree about TV. There is so much out there to explore either physically, thru the internet, books, etc. TV can be a total waste of time. We also need some peace and quiet to reflect on our lives, religious beliefs, etc. There is also much to enjoy in life instead of occupying our time with TV!

usernametodd said...

Hey Carol,
I think when a person measures what they come away from the TV with against doing virtually anything else, they may see that they come away with little more than some rest and relaxation that they could have gotten studying or reading about something they're interested in. It may have even been more restful. After all of the impressive bells and whistles on the TV, you come away from it with nothing. Or, you may come away with stuff that actually has a toxic effect on your life. And it produces something like our present culture -- which doesn't leave much to get excited about. So Things can really get interesting when a person redirects their time. Even if it's only half an hour or an hour per day. The potential is enormous. I'm not so sure that the benefits aren't the greatest when you just get rid of the toxic thing.

Well, it worked for me, but, I'll admit, I'm a little different. Hey, many who are less eccentric than myself have done it! The thing will rob you of a much better life. It's really that simple. The problem is that it will also do much worse than that.

Thanks for saying something here Carol.