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Amusing Ourselves to Death

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The greatest enemy to your peace in Christ is when you fill your mind with all the distractions of this world. Neil Postman wrote a seminal work in 1986 entitled Amusing Ourselves To Death in which he basically wrote a commentary on our culture. In it, he compared two apocalyptic visions of the future: George Orwell’s 1984 and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.

This is what Postman said:

“What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions." In 1984, Orwell added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we fear will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we desire will ruin us.” (1)

It seems that most of the circles that I run in people are more terrified of Orwell’s vision of totalitarianism as opposed to Huxley’s view of hedonism.

If Christianity is the side dish to your amusement, you will never have peace. As Neil Postman said, we live in a culture that is amusing ourselves to death. The etymology of amusement is very telling. “Muse” means "to think," and the pre-fix "a" means “without.” Amusement is the recreation of not thinking.

Part of the reason the Christianity in America is so insipid and stagnate is because our culture hates to think. Why does it need to think, it has everything it needs on its smart phone, and Netflix, and instant internet access, and a billion new apps to distract it with a billion useless things.

Is it possible that your peace is paper thin because you spend more time on your smart phone than in the Scripture? Is it possible that your family’s peace is suffering because instead of engaging in family worship your are worshipping Netflix?

Don’t overhear me. There is nothing inherently wrong with either smart phones or Netflix. But what is the priority in your life?

People who find worship of the Lord on Sundays boring do so because they have no appetite for
it. They are living lives like the rest of the world. But Jesus tells us in our passage that the world’s peace will never bring you true peace.

Reflect on your life. Are you pursing the peace that Jesus offers, or the "peace" and distractions that this world offers? Isaiah said, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3)

*This Blog post is an excerpt from the sermon, The Last Will and Testament of Jesus Christ. For a complete written transcript or audio download of the sermon, please visit the sermon page HERE.*

(1) https://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/2337731-amusing-ourselves-to-death-public-discourse-in-the-age-of-show-business

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