Consuming Fires and Their Place in Our Lives

(Breaking Good? Part 2)

Anyway, what I really wanted to say when I got lost in telling you about bonding with our kids over Breaking Bad was how things stick with us and sometimes consume us.

It has become our habit to watch Breaking Bad on Sunday afternoons. We usually watch three to five episodes, two and a half to four hours at a time.

The first time we did this was a couple of Sundays ago. After watching five episodes of Breaking Bad we couldn’t stop talking about it. For two or three days, and in my dreams, that’s all I could think about. “I’ll bet they’ll…” “Oh, I get why they…” “That pink bear was all over the place. I wonder if it means anything.” “What would I do…” And on and on and on.

Then a thought occurred to me. How can we make church do that? How can we make people think about God constantly, and be that preoccupied with questions and a need for Him? What could the church do differently that would make believers and nonbelievers alike run home after service and Google parts of what they just heard to learn more, to have after-church lunches that last hours because the participants are so lost in discussion, every Sunday?

Or not even church. Our small group time, or just our study time, our alone time with God. Anything!

I want to spend three to five hours, one day a week, with God, learning about Him. I want to give Him my full, focused, undistracted, uninterrupted attention. I want that time to be so deep and involving that it’s all I can think about for days. I want it to make me questions and search my mind and my heart and His word and the internet for answers. I want to talk to others about it and have them be on the same page as I am, and as blown away by His awesomeness as I am!

But it seems a lot harder than doing the same thing with Breaking Bad.

Why? Why is it so easy to get so involved with a TV show that is about a guy in a situation I will never, ever be in, doing things I will never, ever do? Shouldn’t it be easier to get deeply involved with a God who knows me personally? With His book that is a love letter written to me and has the answer to every situation I will ever be in?

Maybe it’s because I grew up knowing and loving God. Being a Christian is not new to me. It’s not some shiny Christmas package I’ve just discovered in the back of Mom’s closet that drives me wild with curiosity, which is kinda how I feel about this show. I’m used to Christianity. It’s always been a part of who I am.

I guess it’s like eating chocolate cake for the very first time. You would perceive the taste, smell, texture, the lusciousness of each bite of that cake a lot differently than you would if you were someone who had cake after dinner every night. If you are a Christian, you remember what it was like when you first gave your life to Jesus. I was so excited, so turned on, it was all I wanted to talk about for the first few months. Now it still excites me just as much, but I’ve calmed down, learned to live with it.

And there it is. Light bulb!

When I first started writing this, I had no idea where I was going with it. It just bothered me that it’s so easy to get so deeply involved with a TV show or movie or book. We’ll look up things about it on the internet, follow the stars on Twitter, join Facebook groups, try to get others to watch it, anything to get more involved with it. And it’s only meant to be entertainment, not a lifestyle.

Christianity is meant to be a lifestyle.

Our interest and involvement in entertainment can burn bright and hot, but when it does, it burns out quickly. We could not sustain such involvement at such a heat for long. We get excited about things, and they are all we talk about, but sooner or later the excitement of the newness fades. Some are long lasting interests. These we learn to incorporate into our lives. They take their place on the shelf with the rest of our interests. Life goes on, enriched but not dominated by this interest.

In our walk with God, we do have times of deep immersion. I’ve gone on retreats or done Bible studies that totally enveloped me. He was all I wanted to occupy myself with, and it was wonderful. Unfortunately, we can’t live like this on a daily basis. While we may have the desire, we just don’t have the time. There’s an old saying, “If we’re too heavenly minded, we’ll be no earthly good.” If we were too completely absorbed with any one thing, be it God, a TV show, a hobby, or whatever, after a while our friends would start to fade away, and no one except those as obsessed as we are would want to listen to us or even be around us. We’d lose our jobs. Our homes would be an unsanitary mess. It’s just not how our lives were meant to be. Even Jesus took time to just hang out with His friends.

So yes, I think we need to have times where we are completely occupied by our pursuit of God, but He put us here to live a daily life full of a variety of things. It’s okay to look up from the Bible and take in everything around us, and enjoy a little bit of whatever He puts in our path, be it good friends, family, food, music, or even television shows…with relish…as long as we remember to put Him first. We just need to keep ourselves in check and not go overboard with our little obsessions.

No problem there. This is the last season of Breaking Bad. 😉

Advertisements

Breaking Good?

Every summer A comes home from college and says, “You have to watch this show!” It’s usually some show we have heard of or seen previews for, but doesn’t appeal to us for one reason or another. But A can be very insistent, so the hubs and I usually relent and watch a few episodes with him.

I believe in giving most things a chance. I want our kids to know we value their opinion, and although we don’t always agree, we’ll listen or watch and weigh their suggestions, if it seems reasonable.

To be honest, the biggest reason we watch any of these shows is that it gives us extra family time with our boys who aren’t boys anymore, but men. It gives us a common ground with them. And we’re so glad they share the things they are interested in with us, no matter what it is!

Most of the shows A has gotten us into are shows we could take or leave if the kids weren’t watching with us. I can’t remember the last time I watched an episode of How I Met Your Mother or Arrested Development on my own. Not that they aren’t good, but not my favorites. Of course, I never watched Spider-Man or Sesame Street without them, either. (Although, Hubs and I did watch an episode of Beast Wars the other night on Netflix. Love the characters on that show!)

I didn’t know that the child-parent television habits would continue into their adulthood, but I’m glad they have.

We don’t always say yes to the shows they try to get us to watch. I watched three episodes of Dexter, and that was more than enough for me. I can’t watch a show when I don’t like the characters. And it’s kind of hard to root for the serial-killing main character in that one. Although, I do love Michael C. Hall’s ominous Dexter voice-overs on the Dodge commercials.

This summer, the show A got us into is Breaking Bad. Then he went back to Austin. Hubs and I would have been fine with dropping it right then, but J and his girlfriend Andi wanted to watch it with us. So this is some of our family fun, weekly marathons of Breaking Bad on Netflix. We look forward to it and miss it if we haven’t done it in a week!

I described Breaking Bad to my mom as a show about a middle-aged, very square high school chemistry teacher (who could have been so much more) who is diagnosed with lung cancer. He wants to find some way to make some quick cash to pay his medical bills and take care of his family after he’s gone. His family consists of a teenaged son with Cerebral Palsy, a wife who is very pregnant with a “surprise” baby girl, a kleptomaniac busy-body sister-in-law, and her husband who is a machismo DEA agent. With our main character, Mr. White’s science background, and through a chance event involving a former student, Jesse, he decides he’s going to provide for his family’s financial needs by making and selling meth. Yep. Illegal drugs. So together he and Jesse (who is a small-time drug dealer himself) delve deeper and deeper into the drug trade, picking up pointers and hardening themselves to the side effects of the business along the way. It’s one of those climbing the ladder of success stories, except instead of up, the ladder our main character is climbing decidedly down into a deep, dark pit.

My mom said, “That sounds terrible! And depressing! Why would anyone want to watch that?”

Exactly! But somehow we do. And somehow it’s not.

I love shows that uplift me, make me happy about what’s going on, not that bring me down. I don’t care for dark entertainment at all. But this show doesn’t give me that depressed, dirty, scratchy in my soul feeling that I expected when we first started watching. It’s a very well written character study. It’s serious entertainment that makes you think, not my usual fluff fare. So it’s not bad, just different for me.

And knowing me like I do, I shouldn’t like it, but for one thing. In a show about chemistry, that in and of itself is the shining factor of the show. It’s what makes us want to come back each week. Bryan Cranston (Mr. White) and Aaron Paul (Jesse) play off each other so well and have that chemistry that every show needs to make it. It makes their alliance believable, and provides unexpected laughs…big laughs, and endearing moments that keep me coming back episode after episode.

So yes, this show is a little dark, and can be pretty violent, and is not the kind of show I would normally choose to watch. But I do like it, and it does provide a family bond, something we all enjoy doing together. So we watch it together and enjoy it quite a lot.

I guess it could be worse. If we’d have had daughters instead of sons, we’d be watching the Kardashians or the Real Housewives of Someplace.

Anyway, this isn’t what I wanted to talk to you about. This is just laying the ground work for what I really wanted to say, but after 900 words, I think I ought to give you a break and let that go until another time.