Daily Devotional for Wednesday April 2, 2003

The ultimate reality TV program

( Genesis 6:5, Genesis 6:12, Psalm 52:3, Proverbs 2:14 )

The ultimate reality TV program. Over the past several years, reality TV programs like "Survivor" have become the hottest and top-rated programs on television. The appeal was in watching real people living in real life situations. They are cheap to produce and garner high ratings which equate to a financial bonanza for the networks that air them. With the initial success of these types of programs, came a flood of new ones. They all started to look the same, so to make themselves stand out, they had to come up with more bizarre concepts that began to push the limits of good taste and decency.

Pretty soon it was a race to see who could be the raunchiest, who could degrade people the most, and just how low they could get before the public said enough. That brought us wonderful television programs that made a mockery of God's institution of marriage, let us see people eat living insects and raw animal parts for a few dollars, and allowed us to cheer for a race between an elephant and dozens of midgets who were harnessed to a 747. Sadly, the public watched this garbage in great numbers. Never saying it was enough, only wanting more. The only thing left to do was actually have someone die, right there on LIVE television. Even the sleaze merchants of reality TV couldn't justify crossing that line.

But wait, along comes the war. I have long contended that the news has quit being about news, but is actually a form of entertainment. Why do you think Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw, and Peter Jennings are all paid Hollywood-type salaries? They are ENTERTAINERS! TV could now give the public the ultimate reality TV program, complete with death and destruction, under the guise of news. Let me assure you, as I have clearly laid out in the past I am in full support of this war for the purpose of our national defense, with a byproduct being the liberation of the Iraqi people from the tyrannical quarter century reign of Saddam Hussein. I have done several Devotionals on the Biblical support for war, so if you are NOT in favor of the war, please, I am not interested in having those debates again. My point today is NOT about whether or not we should be engaged in the war with Iraq, but about the role that television is playing in this conflict and how we are viewing it.

Sadly, we are living in a time when we want everything NOW! Cell phones, pagers, faxes, wireless Internet connections, FedEx, drive-thru food. WE WANT IT NOW!!! Many thought that we could come home at night, pop a bowl of popcorn, sit down and "watch the war" like we would watch a sporting event. We had FOX News, MSNBC, CNN all bringing us 24/7 coverage. We had their expert analysts breaking it all down for us, we had their reporters embedded in with the troops to bring us LIVE updates from the front, and we even had cameras strategically placed in Baghdad to record our bombing raids on that city. This was going to be great. With all of the live coverage available, we were going to get to see in real- time, bombs blowing up targets and our troops fighting the enemy, complete with all of the death and destruction that war entails. However, the war is lasting much longer than the general public expected, we really don't see much in those blurry satellite-phone video feeds, and we could see more "shock and awe" at most neighborhood 4th of July celebrations. The war has not proved to be the sensational real-life video game many expected it to be, and after just two weeks the ratings are already dropping dramatically.

I love you and care about you so much. One of the things that I attempt to do each day is take the real life issues that we all face, take the real life events happening today, and put them in the context of our faith. The larger issue of reality television is a societal one. The ongoing moral decay in our culture has brought us to where we are at today. The problem is NOT with television, but with US! I don't blame the TV networks. They are simply providing what the public demands to make a dollar. GE and Microsoft that own MSNBC are billion dollar publicly traded companies whose only goal is the bottom line. CNN is owned by AOL/Time Warner, another media giant driven strictly by profits. FOX News is owned by Rupert Murdoch who has become a billionaire by selling sleaze worldwide. While I realize that FOX News is the favorite of most conservatives, never forget that it is owned by Murdoch who is responsible for much of the unGodly reality programming that I referred to earlier. Like the others, his ONLY goal is profits. The television networks are simply giving the public what it demands

I urge you today to pray for this sin-filled world that we live in. A world that is so lost in sin that it looks to escape in the most perverse ways. As richly blessed as we are in the United States, we have allowed our culture to decay to the point that we are really no better than the ancient Romans who spent their recreation time in the Coliseum watching Christians being fed to the lions. THAT was their entertainment!!! THAT is where we find OUR culture today!!!I am saying that we, the people of God, the blood-bought sons and daughters of the King, better start to get serious before WE are the ones being fed to the lions. CAN'T HAPPEN? 40 years ago if you told someone that you could watch the most perverted sex acts, watch the most vile humor, watch the most graphic acts of violence imaginable right in the comfort of your living room on TV, they would have told you, CAN'T HAPPEN!

In His love and service, Your friend and brother in Christ, Bill Keller