Violence and Entertainment

Violence and Entertainment

My employer, Christianity Today, posted an interesting and important editorial:  “Deadening the Heart: Killer video games are no ‘safety valve’—quite the opposite.” Here’s an excerpt:

Good teachers know three things that contribute to effective learning: active participation, rehearsing behavioral sequences rather than discrete acts, and repetition, repetition, repetition. Video games employ all three. In addition, the vast majority of the gaming scenarios (like the random killing of prostitutes) fail to show the real-life consequences of violence. Perpetrators go unpunished. In short, violent games can deaden us to the horror of violence and stimulate our native sinfulness. It shouldn’t surprise us that all media shape us, which is one reason Paul exhorts us to think on things that are true, honorable, pure, lovely, commendable, and excellent (Phil. 4).

Some say these are just games, and that we shouldn’t take them so seriously. But in the wake of the 1998 schoolyard massacre in Jonesboro, Arkansas, military expert David Grossman showed CT readers how these games use the same operant conditioning techniques used by armies to overcome recruits’ natural aversion to killing.

We wonder why the church today seems so much like the world. Yet, if you went into most of our homes, you’d find that we are shaping our minds and thoughts with the same material that everybody else in the world does. We are right to dread and fight against pornography. We all naturally and instinctively recognize that a steady diet of erotic material is morally destabilizing and morally unsanitary. Yet, shouldn’t we employ the same filters against other kinds of material in our households? Isn’t a celebration of violence as abhorrent to God as a celebration of fornication? Isn’t a celebration of greed and the pursuit of money just as abhorrent to God? Doesn’t he hate a celebration of gluttony, sloth, deceit, or thievery just the same?

I wrote a much longer post than this, but I’m cutting it short to get to the point: we are called to avoid conforming to amoral and immoral ways of life, and we are to actively let our minds be renewed so that we can be transformed (Romans 12:1-2). Violent video games may not be useful for renewal … but shouldn’t we evaluate other forms of entertainment as well? Television, books, magazines, movies, music, and conversation: they’re all ways we take in information, values, and systems of thought.

I don’t necessarily advocate cutting all TV, all fiction, all movies, or all music out of your life. But I do advise this: consume nothing uncritically or passively. Engage your world, engage the ideas around you, and expect that whatever you consume must benefit you in some way, and if you cannot find the benefit, eliminate it.

Other stories and posts of interest:

[tags]BlogRodent, violence, entertainment, media, media-violence, Internet, integrity, video-games, video-game[/tags]

2 thoughts on “Violence and Entertainment

  1. Wesley Fryer

    Intentional living should be a hallmark of the 21st century Christian. I think your observations are right on the money. Thanks for bringing this article to my attention.

  2. Pingback: Moving at the Speed of Creativity » Blog Archive » Deadening the Heart

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