Saturday, October 14, 2006

John Piper: Truth About Television

[I found this on a blog, and do not have the book from which it is taken. However, what is said is true and consequential. Please heed it, for the good of your soul, God, and others. If anyone can verify the quote, I would appreciate it.]

“If all other variables are equal, your capacity to know God deeply will probably diminish in direct proportion to how much television you watch. There are several reasons for this. One is that television reflects American culture at its most trivial. And a steady diet of triviality shrinks the soul. You get used to it. It starts to seem normal. Silly becomes funny. And funny becomes pleasing. And pleasing becomes soul-satisfaction. And in the end, the soul that is made for God has shrunk to fit snugly around triteness. This may be unnoticed, because if all you’ve known is American culture, you can’t tell there is anything wrong. If you have only read comic books, it won’t be strange that there are no novels in your house. If you live where there are no seasons, you won’t miss the colors of fall. If you watch fifty TV ads each night, you may forget there is such a thing as wisdom. TV is mostly trivial. It seldom inspires great thoughts or great feelings with glimpses of great Truth. God is the great absolute, all-shaping Reality. If He gets any airtime, He is treated as an opinion. There is no reverence. No trembling. God and all that He thinks about the world is missing. Cut loose from God and everything goes down."

John Piper, Pierced by the Word, 77


Jacob Hantla said...

Verified. It came from my blog at this post.

Great quote. I recommend the entire book. That particular quote grabbed me as I was reading and I have come back to it often simply because I find it an accurate diagnosis of my heart when I find myself in front of the tv.

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D. said...

So, find yourself more and more not in front of the TV.

Tim said...

Well said.

I know of a Bible study group where several middle-aged Christian women have broken down in tears while talking about their TV watching, admitting that the shows they watch are wretched and morally vile but confessing that they feel unable to stop. Asked why they don't toss out the TV, they immediately replied, "Oh, my husband would never let me. There's no point in even talking about it. He has to have his sports."

Food for thought, guys ...

Jonathan Erdman said...

It's a good warning, I think.

The only counter point I would make is that quotes like these can lead people to believe that faith rests upon what they abstain from, rather than what they pursue.

Watching less tv does not equivocate to knowing God more deeply. Faith is not formulaic, it is, firstly a spiritual journey. Discipline is important, but not an end in itself. I'm sure Piper would agree.

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D. said...

I am reaching out to African immigrants at a church in Phoenix. Last night I told them that one of my frustration with American culture is that Americans (and American Christians) don't read. Most Americans don't read a single book all year. We waste time on other things. Yet we have more access to books than any other culture ever.

In Liberia (where many of the Africans are from), there are no working libraries--in the entire country. My friend's library was used to start fires during the civil war there about 15 years ago.

I hear so many people speak of TV programs they have watched, but seldom about books they have read.

The battle for truth, literacy, and a Christian philosophy of life continues...

Jonathan Erdman said...

Most Americans don't read a single book all year.

Have you heard any stat lines on this? Or is this just a general reflection based on observation?

Considering what big business books are in this country (, Barnes & Noble, Borders, etc.) it is hard to believe that Americans are not readers....

Jonathan Erdman said...


Here is an interesting lyric from an alternative group that I know you will appreciate:

Cuz I'm a 21st century digital boy
I don't know how to read but I've got a lot of toys
My daddy's a lazy middle class intellectual
My mommy's on valium, so ineffectual
Ain't life a mystery?

21st Century (Digital Boy)
Artist: Bad Religion