Here in the Tampa Bay area I live in a condo that has two TV's. The cable service is analog and delivers 11 channels. These include the local affiliates of ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, CW, PBS and, surprisingly, OWN.
No longer do I receive the 24-hour news channels with the talking heads and polarized "debates" with people screaming and talking over one another. No longer do I need to make decisions to watch a certain news channel while choosing to ignore others because I don't agree with their political point of view. And beyond the lack of hard news channels, I'm facing yet another big change in my TV watching habits.
For decades I've had a DVR that allows me to record my favorite shows ahead of time and watch them at my convenience -- while using the Fast Forward button to skip through all the commercials. I think it's accurate to say that I haven't really seen a commercial in its fullness for at least 15 years...not even those Super Bowl commercials, unless they show up on YouTube. Now though, with this antiquated analog cable TV and no DVR, I am forced to watch at least seven minutes (!) of commercials for every 30 minute show, or twice that for an hour-long show like American Idol.
What's in those commercials? Hmmmm.
- AT&T has one with kids sitting around a table talking to an adult and confirming that it's better to multi-task than to focus on one thing at a time. Apparently that's all about a phone that surfs the web while you're talking to someone. Seems a bit rude to me, actually.
- Countless commercials focus on adorning the body with eye makeup, hair treatments and other feminine beauty products taking the definitive lead. The Course teaches us that the only purpose of the body is to communicate. How far from that noble goal our TV commercials take us.
- Clothing commercials. Ross, JC Penney, Sears, Old Navy and dozens of others all want to sell us clothing to beautify our bodies. Again, it's all a bit boring and the seasonal "must have" styles all seem quite superficial. Our society truly does place a LOT of importance on bodily appearances.
- Food. You name it, someone will advertise it. Burgers, steaks and every form of meat or pasta with lots of cheese -- all of which are loaded with saturated fat and/or carbs. No wonder America is overweight with those commercials constantly pitching us on the benefit of eating unhealthy foods.
For me the devolution to an antiquated, old-fashioned analog TV with just a few channels and no DVR has given me these new perspectives:
- I've disconnected from the "news cycle." I no longer feel the need to promote or defend a particular political stance. After all, what happens in the "news" each day is just another illusory aspect of this life we seem to live here on planet Earth. Disconnecting from the news channels feels right. I find myself meditating, praying and thanking God for what I have, what I am, what He has given me rather than obsessing over "news." Yay!
- It's reminded me that our society focuses most of its advertising on adorning, beautifying and feeding our bodies. I don't "blame" anyone for that focus, but do find it meaningless, pointless. I am fortunate to live in a community where most of the people, who are about my (retirement) age, have forgotten, forgiven and discounted the importance of having a "body beautiful." By and large they're much more interested in talking, befriending, communicating and socializing rather than obsessing over the latest fashion or body adornment.
- New TV shows are being announced on a daily basis. Every one of them deals with conflict, murder, death, lies, hate and all the outcomes of projecting one's own sin, guilt and fear onto others. ha! It is truly amazing to realize that Hollywood has become the world's biggest purveyor of "entertainment" that is based in sin, fear and guilt.
Because I find a great deal more joy and peace spending time in prayer and meditation. This move to Florida and the minimal TV service gives me time to spend in far more exciting and productive ways than ever before. After all, would anyone prefer to debate the solution to the fiscal cliff, raising the national debt limit, worrying about unfunded liabilities and the weakness of the U.S. dollar? Or would it perhaps be more beneficial to study, oh, let's say, Lesson 61:
Forgiveness is my function as the light of the world.
1 It is your forgiveness that will bring the world of darkness to the light. It is your forgiveness that lets you recognize the light in which you see. Forgiveness is the demonstration that you are the light of the world. Through your forgiveness does the truth about yourself return to your memory. Therefore, in your forgiveness lies your salvation.
2 Illusions about yourself and the world are one. That is why all forgiveness is a gift to yourself. Your goal is to find out who you are, having denied your Identity by attacking creation and its Creator. Now you are learning how to remember the truth. For this attack must be replaced by forgiveness, so that thoughts of life may replace thoughts of death.
3 Remember that in every attack you call upon your own weakness, while each time you forgive you call upon the strength of Christ in you. Do you not then begin to understand what forgiveness will do for you? It will remove all sense of weakness, strain and fatigue from your mind. It will take away all fear and guilt and pain. It will restore the invulnerability and power God gave His Son to your awareness.
4 Let us be glad to begin and end this day by practicing today's idea, and to use it as frequently as possible throughout the day. It will help to make the day as happy for you as God wants you to be. And it will help those around you, as well as those who seem to be far away in space and time, to share this happiness with you.
5 As often as you can, closing your eyes if possible, say to yourself today:
Forgiveness is my function as the light of the world.
I would fulfill my function that I may be happy.
Then devote a minute or two to considering your function and the happiness and release it will bring you. Let related thoughts come freely, for your heart will recognize these words, and in your mind is the awareness they are true. Should your attention wander, repeat the idea and add:
I would remember this because I want to be happy.