I feel that this is an appropriate time for a confession…I didn't call the emergency services. In fact, no one in our house did. To be honest, it didn't have much of an impact on us and life seemed to go on the same as it had before. Nobody talked about it, nobody cried, there was no counseling that followed and although it may sound completely opposite to what you would ever expect I don't think it changed my life at all.
Now, you are likely thinking we are crazy. But let me explain…
Truth is, the majority of you reading this can actually identify with my experience. Believe it or not. I am not the only one who has been innocently eating my dinner only to look up and see a corpse in my lounge room at the exact moment that the glorious goodness of mashed potato hits my palate. Yep – mashed potato. Oh, I forgot to mention the corpse wasn't exactly tangible...but it was in my house, on the television that is. "Oh, I see!" you say; great you are with me now…
It's interesting, isn't it? Death is not exactly a dinner table discussion. Actually there are not too many places where it is culturally acceptable to chat about it; except maybe a funeral or counseling room. And so, death is often left as a tabooed topic in western culture.
So why is death taking so much of our precious airtime? How has it managed to pervade our literature, television programs and movies so heavily that it has become a commonality for households across Australia to have the regular presence of a corpse in their lounge room? Now, I know it is so 2013, but are we actually hungry for The Hunger Games? Like I mean, when did death become entertaining?
A brave man
Apparently a very long time ago. The ancient gladiator fights stand as testimony to this. But on January 1, 404 AD everything changed. The bravery of a monk - Saint Telemachus - reformed the entertainment culture of Rome forever.
Once Upon A Time (404 AD that is) lived Saint Telemachus who was a small man but his heart was possibly one of the biggest. He was a godly man who spent many hours in prayer as he tended his gardens. One day God told him to go to Rome; so he did. When he arrived he found himself in the middle of Roman festivities and decided to follow the crowds. Step by step he followed them into the Colosseum and perched himself amongst the growing crowd.
As the entertainment began the gladiators slowly entered the arena in their armor. Having never seen a gladiator fight before, it didn't take Telemachus long to realize that they would fight to the death for sake of the entertainment of the crowd.
As the fight began the roars of the crowd increased to a deafening level, not too different from a Cold Play concert. Yet, utterly mortified sat our friend Telemachus with a growing discomfort at the entertainment he was witnessing. Recognizing it was wrong on so many levels he yelled, "In the name of Christ, stop!" As you can imagine, he could not be heard.
In a desperate attempt to make himself heard he ran through the crowd continuing to yell "In the name of Christ, stop!" Making it to the front of the crowd, only the wall of the arena now separated him from Rome's blood lusting entertainment. Seeing no other way to be heard he realized his only option was to in fact propel his little body onto the sandy set of this gruesome scene.
The little monk ran into the heat of the gladiator fight and out of desperation began to plead with the gladiators themselves still crying "In the name of Christ, stop!" Little impact did these words have when suddenly a gladiator plunged his sword into the body of the monk. It was now that the crowd froze as all eyes came acquainted with the sight of a member from the public at the end of a gladiator sword.
This was to be the end of Saint Telemachus. As he collapsed to the sand of the Colosseum with his dying breaths he yelled out to his now captive audience "In the name of Christ, stop!"
It is hard to say exactly how the crowd responded. Some manuscripts say everyone left immediately in silence. But what is known is that this led to the Christian Emperor Honorius issuing a ban on gladiator fights, leaving this day as the last known gladiator fight in Rome.
Has the world forgotten the sacrifice of Saint Telemachus on January 1, 404 AD?
In the name of entertainment
Now, in today's culture we don't literally kill people for entertainment but it is definitely implied. One simply needs to turn on the television in Prime Time and images of corpses, weapons and sculpted actors wearing crime scene investigation uniforms will almost certainly take center stage. CSI, NCIS, Bones, Castle, The Mentalist, and Cold Case are all too familiar names to the television watchers of today. Zombies and vampires and their blood sucking tendencies are also increasingly gaining more and more airtime.
Although we are not actually killing anyone in the provision of such entertainment it raises the question, is violence and death actually entertaining? If so, why?
I wonder what Saint Telemachus would say about this? Actually, moreover I wonder what Jesus would say about these programs as entertainment?
I am not saying that they are good or bad. In fact, I all too often find myself watching these programs in a dazed state as I procrastinate from other more worthwhile ways of spending my time. But I do think it is something we should take time to think about occasionally. What are we actually putting into our minds in the name of entertainment? What kind of culture are we fueling in the process?
Paul writes in Philippians chapter 4 verse 8 [The Message Translation] "Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, graciousâ€"the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse."
I feel increasingly stronger to occasionally assess what I am supporting in the name of entertainment and what I am filling my mind with.
I encourage you to do the same. Let's protect our minds and our culture as we decide for ourselves what we will support and invite into our lounge rooms in the name of entertainment.
Charlotte (Charley) works in youth ministry and is studying a Bachelor of Theology at a bible college in Melbourne. Charley enjoys writing children's stories and playing guitar.
Charley Goiris' previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/charley-goiris.html