Thursday, January 19, 2023

Dull. . .

There is a time when it was typical and ordinary to give your attention to something that today would be considered long, boring, dull.  Movies ran for three hours.  Operas took hours from beginning to end.  Oratorios had choir, soloists, and orchestra play for two to three hours.  Now we find ourselves struggling to get through an hour TV show.  The only thing that seems to have kept our attention are video games.  Other than the extended length video games, we prefer the brief YouTube or TikTok video, the snippet of information of Twitter to the novel, the soundbite to an in depth news broadcast, something visual to something you must read.  Even the songs on the radio or our playlists lack the extended RIFF of the 1970s.  Over all, our means of information and entertainment seem to be getting shorter -- which some say is the response of industry to our ever decreasing attention spans.

Surely the modern technology which has brought us into this so-called Information Age has borne more fruit than to decrease the amount of things we can or are able to comprehend or appreciate!  Imagine, that with an internet connection on our smartphone we have access to an almost limitless amount of information and what do we do with it?  We entertain ourselves with momentary illusions.  It is not that our attention spans are growing shorter and shorter as we are growing ever impatient with what we have.  It is the ultimate gift of sin that we not only ended up with shorter lives but with the an inability or unwillingness to pay attention to the short life we have.  With all the knowledge that we have at our fingertips, we have come to lack both wisdom and common sense.  We choose boredom over interest.

We think that the opposite of knowledge is stupidity but it is really ignorance or, rather, the choice to be ignorant.  The world says ignorance is bliss but that is not the message of Scripture.  Scripture offers no suggestion that ignorance imposed or chosen is a better state than knowledge.  Scripture goes so far as to name the Messiah as Holy Wisdom and to describe salvation as being made wise.  This is not the pleasant awakening to amusement or distraction but the painful awakening of truth -- the blunt and hard truth of sin and death.  This revelation is designed not to make us sorrowful but to drive us into the arms of His mercy where this wisdom finds its fulfillment.  Christ, the wisdom of God, is both the ground of our being and the Savior who delivers us from our pain.   He is also more than this.  He is our focus now and our future.  He is the wisdom who destroys the wisdom of the wise of this world and what we would deem foolish and an escape from reality, is the only reality that is and will ever be.

Worship is ever the victim of our quest for amusement, entertainment, and escape.  It has become a mere tool in our hands to reflect both our interests and the things in which we have no interest.  It took a good long time but we have managed well to take the wisdom of Christ and make it into a tool for our purpose.  Our foolishness has taught us to begrudge the time spent in God's House, decrying what takes place there as boring, and longing to return our imagined wisdom of diversion.  We say that this is our best life and we truly have come to believe it.  Death is no longer the worst that could befall us but a life without amusement or one that includes any amount of pain and suffering.  With all the knowledge at our fingertips, we remain foolish.  Wisdom is off putting to us and learning wisdom is hard. The beauty of worship fails before our dull eyes and the eloquence of music sings in a language that is alien to us. 


Carl Vehse said...

"Movies ran for three hours. Operas took hours from beginning to end."

Long movies and operas did have intermissions (and opera latecomers would not be seated until those intermissions). Also, baseball games do have a seventh inning stretch. Of course, those example are in the entertainment category.

And in the 1970s, extended popular songs on AM radios were often cut short to allow for profit-generating commercials.

Janis Williams said...

I would say that Neil Postman’s book Amusing Ourselves to Death has come to fruition. Why else would we say, “I’m bored to death?” This coincides with living in a comfort crisis. We learn nothing wh\en we are comfortable.