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Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Our Special Independence Day Message


Happy Fourth of July. Today, in addition to our country’s independence, we celebrate our family’s independence from TV. Eleven years ago today, we literally drove our television out of our house. Looking back, my only regret is that I did not destroy it instead of give it away.

Our transition from TV junkies to TV free was a gradual change, and will probably never be complete in the sense that I still find myself quoting lines from movies and TV shows in the course of conversation (Bueller? Bueller?). But getting rid of the TV has been a blessing because it has freed our family up to do other things. Now I don’t know where we could find the time to watch the black box.

It started in graduate school, shortly after we were married, when we had very cheap basic cable while living in married student housing. We were hooked. As time went on we had a larger set and a collection of video tapes. Then came children, and we started noticing how the kids would stop playing and just stare at the TV while it was on. It didn’t matter if a movie, cartoon, or infomercial were on – all activity ceased. We also noticed our own production loss. At eleven p.m., when the news would come on, we would realize that the dishes from dinner were still on the table and I had spent very little time reading or studying.

During all this time, as young parents, we started to prayerfully discern what we could do to be better parents and raise good Catholic children. I should say the ‘we’ here was mainly my wife, as she read a lot of parenting books, lives of the saints, and spoke to a lot to other mothers. She also worked to develop the prayer life of the family, with frequent attending of daily Mass. Truly God’s grace was at work in our family through the efforts of my wife. I am sad to say that my contribution during my post-graduate work was to listen to her thoughts and suggestions, give my permission as head of the house, and then roll over and go to sleep. My wife is a good example of how precious a good wife can be to a man. How blessed I am!

Anyways, so we determined that many of our movies were offensive to God, either in language or in the activities of characters. Off to the garbage. We noticed that many of the Disney animations were filled with less than admirable characters or messages, so we let them go as well. Eventually, only Barney was left. Think about it. A bunch of kids place a stuffed animal in the shape of a dinosaur in the middle of a circle, start chanting around it, and SUPER-DE-DUPER! There is a large dinosaur that talks and entertains these otherwise lost children. Off to the garbage.

Sure there are good videos, full of good songs, good messages and nothing but goodness for little children, but we noticed with even those videos the children would become like little zombies and stop doing whatever they were doing. We preferred children who were doing something that required thought and activity (even getting into mischief requires using your mind) than children who just sat there, captivated.

Finally, we started leaving off the TV during Lent, and we immediately noticed an improvement in our personal lives. When the TV came back after Lent, it was a disappointment. Something bad had come back into our lives. So, In July of 1995, we got rid of the TV.

We still have other ways for bad influences of our culture to enter our house, such as the internet and music, but we work to keep those influences at bay. Music is one I could easily write on – all you need to hear is one of your toddlers singing, “give me champagne when I’m thirsty, give me reefer when I wants to get high,” to know you have a problem with the music in your home.


“Daddy you look like a girl, drinking that pink Gatorade” – one of the noisy kids


Jeni said...

This is something that Frank and I have been doing as well. We have not yet madde it to the point where the TV has been trashed but we watch no television whatsoever. I used to watch different shows every single night after work. One day Frank just quit watching tv. Eventually, I did as well. What changed us was the day we heard Fr. Paul say that the average person will waste 7 years of their life watching television. We still watch movies, only the lives of the saints and our daughter still watches some shows, but I have noticed she would rather watch a movie on Saint Bernadette then anything. It has been a real blessing not being enslaved by the evil box.

FloridaWife said...

That's funny about the gatorade.

Yes, we have our TV, but we don't have any shows we really watch. We watch the occasional sports match, golf tournament, and we watch the news. I do not have ONE recurring program that I watch. Oh, and I love EWTN! I put it on when I'm exercising or folding clothes or whatever. For the time being, it doesn's suck up our lives. Maybe it'll be different with children; I certainly don't want them to turn into zombies in front of the TV.

Our Lady of the Mysterious Decapitation

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Prayer to Our Lady of the Mysterious Decapitation

Mary my mother, take my hand today, and all days.
Lead me away from all occasions of sin.
Guide me in fulfilling your last words in the Gospel,
"Do whatever He tells you."

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