What’s the purpose of entertainment?
Most people would answer that question with something like- ‘For our amusement’.
What is amusement?
‘Muse’ is a word meaning ‘to ponder/consider/reflect/think’.
Since the word ‘amuse’ has that lovely little ‘A’ at the beginning, it basically makes the definition of ‘muse’ flipped around to mean the exact opposite; ‘amuse’ means ‘to NOT ponder, consider, reflect, or think.’
‘Entertainment’, then, is widely considered to be “something that causes you to not think.”
Our brains go into auto-pilot.
We passively absorb content.
For the most part, we aren’t THINKING at the level it would require to critically consider and evaluate the seemingly endless stream of messages that are being pumped into our minds. Sometimes this can be a good thing- like unwinding and shutting your brain down after a long day.
But how much of our time is spent as consumers of unhealthy messages and standards?
Do we even notice?
As a follower of Jesus, I am NOT saying that all entertainment should be ‘Christian’ or for ‘Christian audiences only’. C.S. Lewis himself wrote for secular and religious audiences alike, and I believe that’s the way it should be. Christian entertainers and artists should express their talents for the benefit of EVERYONE, not just a select few.
But what if we started asking the right questions about entertainment?
Instead of “where do I draw the line in entertainment choices?” what if we asked “which direction is this entertainment leading me towards?”
I was raised to value purity in entertainment choices, and I have wrestled with my conscience when confronted by people with ‘stricter lines’ or belittled by friends with looser entertainment standards.
But I’ve learned over time that purity isn’t about drawing lines, it’s about pursuing a direction. It’s about asking the right questions.
- Is this film/book/song going to draw me deeper into life, or distract me from life?
- Is this film/book/song going to pump my brain with truth or lies?
- Is this film/book/song promoting meaningful substance, or is it chafing away whatever is left of my conscience?
- Is this film/book/song giving me something of value, or is it exemplifying objectification of others?
Our brains are kind of like tofu. Sounds crazy, but hear me out on this one! Tofu doesn’t have a taste on its own, it basically ‘becomes’ the flavor of whatever it’s being cooked with. In a similar way, our brains start to emulate and conform to the philosophies and ideas we are marinating in on a daily basis. Association matters. Entertainment matters.
Good art matters, because it both reflects life and inspires it.
I don’t want to waste any more of my time worrying about the wrong question- “where is the ‘line’?”
I want so much more than a subjective line to be crossed or a rule to be broken.
I want to be taken deeper into life, I want to learn, I want to grow.
I don’t just want to be amused.