Q: Dear Father John, Is watching a show like the “Medium” against our Catholic faith? The show is from what I have heard is calling on spirits who have passed on from this life and supposedly can be reached through a medium.
In our first post in this three part series we reflected on how art and entertainment can touch our entire being. Both can be pleasing and attractive, but how much is really good for us?
We need to keep in mind two other related observations. First, certain types of entertainment are intrinsically evil – that is, the actual substance of the entertainment, the stuff that causes the pleasure, is immoral. As followers of Christ, we can never use or support or even tolerate these kinds of entertainment. This was the case in the ancient gladiator fights. The thrill that the spectators experienced came from the mortal danger the contestants faced: the combatants fought to the death. But human life is too precious for that! To make killing into a spectator sport directly contradicts human dignity. When the Roman Empire became Christian, this form of entertainment, eventually, was abolished. In our day, the most obvious example of this is pornography and all its related industries (strip clubs, prostitution, human trafficking, sex tourism…). This is a subset of the entertainment industry that treats human beings like products, like consumer goods to be bought, used, and thrown away. Not good.
Second, many works of art or entertainment are not explicitly Christian or Catholic, and yet they present, in some form or other, authentic values. In the first centuries of the Christian era, theologians and philosophers argued extensively about whether Christians should read and study the classical works of literature and philosophy. The works of Cicero, Plato, Thucydides, Virgil… These were pagan works, written by pagans for pagans. They did not present Christ; they did not present a Christian world view. Because of this, many theologians believed that Christians should not read them. In the end, however, the Church realized that these towering achievements of the human spirit, even though they were not explicitly Christian, contained much that was “noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy.” And so, not only did we keep reading them, but Catholic monks were actually the ones who helped preserve them from obliteration during the Dark Ages.
Our society today is, in many ways, a neo-pagan society. As a result, much of our art and entertainment no longer presents an explicitly Christian world view. Yet, as in the case of the ancient classics, they may contain much that can inspire and edify us, even while they entertain us.
In our next post on this topic, Fr. John goes into specifics and discusses certain TV shows or other entertainment we should avoid if we have doubts about them. Father poses some questions to reflect on when making a decision on what to watch or not to watch.
PS: As Lent begins this week, might it not be a good idea to fast from either all entertainment or specific types of entertainment? Just a thought…