As many regular readers of Metro Lutheran know, I once was the culture editor of a national ecumenical magazine. As such, I rejoiced in a daily delivery of ten or more books from a variety of publishers. (Most of those companies aren’t doing that anymore.) A collector of books, this perk was better than the paycheck. (To be honest, the books really were more than the paycheck, as all staff members were working below minimum wage guidelines.)
But, I was also pleased because being culture editor gave me the excuse to see movies and listen to music. I was able to meet such “stars” as Carlos Santana, Bruce Cockburn, the Indigo Girls, Raul Julia, Pete Seegers, Martin Sheen (pre-West Wing, so I was insufficiently impressed), Ani diFranco, and more. I wan’t so much starstruck as I was appreciative of the gifts these artists offered. I loved music, and enjoyed a good flick.
And, above all, I loved my TV. I often joke, though it is most certainly true, that I could watch “TV Land” on cable 24 hours a day forever and never be dissatisfied. I probably prefer old shows like M*A*S*H and The Dick Van Dyke Show, but I could watch a lot of Law and Order and Cold Case too.
Truth-be-told, I once hitchhiked from a silent retreat center to watch a football game on television at a Montgomery Wards!
Last June 12, exactly a year ago from the day I write this column, my family decided not to move to digital TV. (Actually, I guess we decided much earlier, because we never made the move to go get a converter box or to buy a new television.) Our screens are blank, except for a network that runs Catholic Mass 24/7 and one that is in a language I do not speak.
And I am satisfied. Sometimes giving things up is very refreshing. And, more importantly, it can be very renewing.
I would have never thought I could go without TV. Now I don’t give it a second thought. My life is simply filled with other things — walks, devotionals, cleaning, talking.
I’m not against television. I have been known to watch a baseball game while eating at a restaurant. I just don’t center my life around it.
I find that I have better options.