Amusing Ourselves to Death
Recently I visited an old friend of mine who is now a pastor. He has three children and a successful ministry. But within a few minutes of being in his home, I realized that something wasn’t right. One of the children was in her room playing a computer game, while another was in the den playing another computer game. The third child, sitting next to me, was texting away, without even acknowledging my presence. My friend was totally oblivious to this apparent breakdown in social skills and common courtesy. It seems to me that these children are growing up in a virtual unreality that is crippling their ability to think and carry on a meaningful conversation.
In the must-read book, Amusing Ourselves to Death, author Neil Postman warns parents that media keeps families in a trance-like state-literally brainwashing our children. It is interesting that the word “amuse” comes from a root word meaning “to muse.” To muse means “to think.” When you put the negative prefix “a-” on a word, it negates the original meaning. Thus, to “amuse” means “not to think.” Our technology and media have become amusements that sedate us into a hypnotic state.
One of the most powerful books I have ever read–Sir Knight of the Splendid Way–will arouse both teens and adults to action. When I first read this book, I couldn’t put it down. Sir Knight is on a quest to see the king, but in order to do so he must travel the treacherous road and keep his armor on at all costs. Only those with a pure heart can wear the armor, and only those who wear the armor can have a pure heart. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
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