Philip Jensen

Piper on movies

John Piper has an interesting take on consumption of culture – particularly trivial culture – similar to Philip Jensen’s thoughts that I posted a while back, and quite different to Mark Driscoll’s. Mark Driscoll should get a comission from Tivo he talks about it so much… Piper says he doesn’t watch TV because it’s trivial – but if he does he takes the following position…

I have a high tolerance for violence, high tolerance for bad language, and zero tolerance for nudity. There is a reason for these differences. The violence is make-believe. They don’t really mean those bad words. But that lady is really naked, and I am really watching. And somewhere she has a brokenhearted father.

I’ll put it bluntly. The only nude female body a guy should ever lay his eyes on is his wife’s. The few exceptions include doctors, morticians, and fathers changing diapers. “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin?” (Job 31:1). What the eyes see really matters. “Everyone who looks at a woman to desire her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). Better to gouge your eye than go to hell (verse 29).

This is one of those points where I come down on the Driscoll side of the equation – I think understanding culture involves understanding what people are filling their minds with. But I tend to feel the same way as Piper. Violence and swearing don’t really bother my Christian sensibilities.

Jensen on TV

I wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for Philip Jensen. Possibly. He conducted the marriage of my parents. And was the minister at the church where they met – where he was under strict instructions to make sure mum didn’t marry anyone dodgy. His success or otherwise at that is debatable.

Anyway, I digress. Philip Jensen is the Dean of St Andrews Cathedral in Sydney. He has a blog. Of sorts. His latest post is about TV and the immorality – or otherwise – of modern television. It’s an interesting tie in to the post I wrote on the Wire. He starts off talking about Channel 10 news:

“It is hard to watch TV without, gratuitous violence, sexual exhibitionism, vulgarity of speech, dehumanising of the body in grotesque forensic murder investigations and comedians who rarely rise above toilet humour.”

No, sorry, that’s about all TV.

Here’s what he says about the news (with a note on their need for compelling disaster content:

“The alternatives are to watch the news and the sports shows. But the news is distorted by the need to have visuals (e.g. they love bush fire season, floods and train wrecks) and by the agenda of politically motivated journalists. And the sports shows appear dominated by gambling, the abuse of alcohol and overpaid professional celebrity athletes.”

He makes a lot of interesting points – worthy of consideration by Christians from the consumer standpoint – and against censorship – which is the natural position of Christian lobby groups when it comes to “inappropriate content”…

“As a society we do not want censorship. Censorship is always dangerous – as the censor’s power grows, truth is often his victim. Instead our society has chosen individualism and “community standards” as the basis of public entertainment. This assumes that what is watched does not affect community standards. It opens the door for the steady descent of the community into accepting decadence. So far only child pornography has been left as a taboo. “

He also makes the point that we’re all indirectly paying for free-to-air television (not just the ABC).

“The solution that is given to us is: “If you do not like it then switch it off. Nobody forces you to watch it and it is not costing you anything.” It is true that we do not have to watch it but it is not true that it costs us nothing. Taxpayers pay for the ABC and the free-enterprise taxation system called advertising pays for the commercial stations. All products we buy are more expensive because of TV. Whether or not you ever watch it – you are paying for TV.”

He likes DVDs of TV series as alternatives to the tripe that we’re dished up when we turn on the box.

“Of recent times I have purchased and watched DVDs of TV series. This means I can see what I want to, when I want to, without the intrusion of commercials (that for some reason are always louder than the show they interrupt). It means that I can better monitor what fills my mind. God, in Philippians 4:8, commands us to fill our minds with whatever is true, honourable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy. Given the cost of DVDs one wonders whether in the future parish churches will develop community libraries to pool our resources of quality viewing.”

A library of quality viewing isn’t a bad idea.

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