Wednesday, March 9, 2011

What's happened to TV?

Is it just me or has television simply gone to hell in a hand basket? (Does that sound like somebody's grandma talking or what? ☺) We recently spent a couple of years living overseas where our TV viewing was minimal and somewhat "tame." We moved back to the States a few months ago and all I can say is... Wow! What a difference a couple of years makes! I'm completely and utterly taken aback by the "in your face" shows we're bombarded with these days. Seemingly nothing is off-limits. The more drama and dirt, the better.

There are some shows that have actually been on the air for several years, which I still find hard to believe. Need an example? Okay, how about The Jerry Springer Show? Who watches this garbage? Show of hands, please. This is seriously the most pathetic form of entertainment ever! They round up these dysfunctional people who seemingly can't wait to air their dirty laundry for the whole world to see and hear. Is it all real? Do people truly stoop this low to in order to be seen on television? I can't watch this show in its entirety. I've tried, for the sheer sake of giving it a chance before I judged it too harshly, but it's impossible. I'm embarrassed for the guests and I want to ask Jerry Springer if he feels good about himself for the role he plays in perpetuating the aggressive, vulgar, totally inappropriate behavior his guests display show after show.

Have you ever watched daytime soap operas? I've been a big fan of the ABC shows... All My Children, One Life to Live and General Hospital. I started thinking about what happens on these shows and have realized that the storylines are full of indecency... people sleeping around, cheating on their significant others, ruining lives, etc. How uplifting is that? I don't want my kids to see any of that nonsense.

Some of the newer shows on TV that make me crazy are these reality shows such as Jersey Shore, The Bachelor, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Kimora: Life in the Fab Lane, Jerseylicious and Real Housewives of ___________ (You can literally fill in the blank here as there are multiple versions of this show). These shows put fame, fortune and all things fake on a big ol' pedestal. They scream, "Look at me! Look at me!" Everyone wants to be seen, no matter what. Just listen to this (You'll need to turn off the music on the right-hand side of this blog & then click on the video below.).

Now I ask you... have you ever seen as much makeup, big hair, bling and cleavage in your life? OK, maybe you have, but is this something I really care to look at week after week? And that's just the visual! What about the language? This whole scenario may be 100% fake, but my question is ... WHO CARES? What kind of message are they trying to send viewers? I guess I don't understand the point of the show. It's like junior high on steroids with the cat fights, back stabbing and trash talk. There is nothing... I mean NO-THING redeeming about this show.

TV shows aside... What about our news media? Boy, they are over the top with their coverage of negative stories, aren't they? It's like they take great pleasure in exposing the most ugly, sordid details of people's lives and situations. Think about the people you see in the news most often and the reason(s) why. There seems to be a heck of a lot more negative than positive press, wouldn't you agree?

One would have to be deaf and blind not to realize this is actor Charlie Sheen, particularly since his wild, erratic behavior is a very popular topic right now. He's such a talented actor, but his personal life is a hot mess, and his business has become everyone's business because the media makes sure he's everywhere we turn... TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, the internet... you name it, Charlie's there.

It's no secret who this young lady is, especially since the photo happens to include her name. I chose an older photo of Miley Cyrus to post here because this was before all the drama in her life seemingly started. This is a younger, more carefree & innocent Miley. I don't know anything about her other than what the media would have us believe, and how true any of that is... well, it's anybody's guess. Her provocative photos must sell because we certainly see lots of them in the media.

I keep hearing the song Dirty Laundry by Don Henley playing in the back of my mind. Do you know that song? The lyrics ring so true... "People love it when you lose. They love dirty laundry...... Kick 'em when they're up, kick 'em when they're down." As much as we may think it would be cool to be famous, I think celebrity status carries with it a huge burden. Living your life in the spotlight for all to see, being constantly under the microscope and having people who don't even know you judge your every action must be very difficult.

What is it about our society that makes us want to watch and celebrate others make complete messes of their lives? Why are we obsessed with people who are "train wrecks waiting to happen"? We seem to get pleasure out of other people's pain and misfortune. The more they misbehave, the more attention they get... because we give it to them. We watch the shows and read the articles that gossip about others. Why? Does it make us feel better about our own lives?

TV can be fun, entertaining and educational, and I truly enjoy watching sometimes, but I find myself tuning out more than in these days because quite frankly, I'm tired of the negative messages I'm receiving. Whatever happened to shows like The Waltons and Little House on the Prairie?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Pray continually... and have a good attitude about it!

The subject of praying continually has been on my mind and in my heart a lot lately, so much so that I decided to blog about it here.

Sometimes I feel completely overwhelmed with the number of prayer requests I receive every week. Do you know what I'm talking about? The cares and concerns of family members and friends are often enough to make me want to hang my head and cry. There are so many hurting people! I find myself almost wanting to turn a deaf ear to yet one more need, one more sad situation. I often just don't know how to pray effectively, but guess what? We're called to pray. And not just pray, but pray continually.

I've started making a mental list of those I have been asked to pray for lately, and honestly, the number is staggering. I have family and friends who are currently...

coping with divorce,

exhausted caretakers of elderly parents with major physical & emotional issues,

living with life-threatening illnesses,

struggling to help their nearly-grown child, who frequently finds drama and trouble, to learn from past mistakes and to move forward,

on an emergency trip home to visit a sick family member whose prognosis is unknown,

on an emergency trip home to attend a funeral after the unexpected death of a beloved parent,

living with Alzheimer's,

struggling with how to best serve the Lord; they have willing hearts, but unable bodies to serve in the way they had originally planned,

going through yet another military deployment,

dealing with family members' alcohol addiction...

The list could truly go on and on. You may have a similar list of needs and concerns, whether written or in your heart, that you're constantly praying over. It's easy to get depressed when I realize how much suffering there is in our world, just among the people I know personally. How can I possibly help any of these people? I can't. Not alone anyway. But I know someone who can, and hopefully you do too. Our Heavenly Father has the ability. He is mighty and capable, and He knows our deepest needs.

Amazingly enough, this same topic of praying continually came up today in the women's Bible study I attend. Coincidence? Nah, I totally think it was a God thing. I ♥ God things, don't you? Anyway, here's what the Bible tells us about praying continually...

"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV, 2011)

How on earth is it possible to rejoice and give thanks while praying over unhappy circumstances? Is God serious? Does He really expect us to be able to have a good attitude in the process? Yes... He really does! Admittedly, that's a huge challenge for me. I don't have what I would call a strong prayer life. I'm selfish with my time and I'm not exactly the most faithful prayer warrior. I'm aware, however, that I'm a work in progress, and God is patient with my inadequacies. I'm trying to be more faithful with my prayer time. And let's face it, our world needs all the prayers we can pray... and then some!

The rejoicing & giving thanks part of prayer... well, I have to work on those aspects too. I don't think God expects me to be "happy" about the sorrow and suffering of others. I think He wants me to find hope & joy in the relationship I'm continually building with Him as I pour out my heart to Him and intercede for others, and that's where I can eventually find that thankful spirit. I can be thankful having the knowledge that God is always with me (and you) and He's not going anywhere. He hears our prayers, mine and yours.

I've often thought that there are certain times when praying is simply all we can do, but it's always the best we can do.