Most of you know by now that I’m a little “different” from most folks and you will not be surprised that at 4am I was reading The Caddo Herald from 1921, followed by a few verses of the Bible, and accompanied by some very strong coffee. And by the way, that’s my usual routine in case you ever need to reach me at 4am.
What got my attention this morning was the study topic for one of the local churches: The Gospel of Play. There were some verses given about children and weddings and Jesus attending celebrations. The speakers for the morning were scheduled to discuss the value of play and whether Jesus is interested in our play. Then this title is listed:
The menace of commercialized amusement. Rex Whitt
After I stopped laughing, and cleaned up a little spilled coffee, I realized that the “menace” of 1921 was probably just as serious, and just as destructive as the menace of 2011. For although we may call it different things or describe it in different terms, the problems of our youth have always been founded on the same principle: self-indulgence. There is a time period in our lives when everything revolves around what we feel, desire, dream, experience, and demand. There is no one else in the world who is more important than US! It’s the ME, ME, and MORE ME phase. Or at least that is the way it seems during our phase of lust, greed, and self-gratification. Those of us who have been through it and hopefully outgrown most of our selfish ways, feel a responsibility to guide the next generation through the worst parts and help them avoid lasting damage from destructive “play”. But we have to proceed with caution because we have a very basic need for play and even for a little self-indulgence. Abstinence is not the answer for everything.
I would love to have heard Mr. Whitt speak of “commercialized amusement”. And wouldn’t you love to see his reaction to some of our current activities? Oh my! I know some of the amusements of the twenties involved alcohol, sex, fast cars, violence, and gambling. The tried-and-true troubles have always been preferred by a few members of each generation. I’m not sure what would have been considered “commercialized”. However, I do know from reading the papers that some adults in Caddo recognized the need for young people to be entertained and amused. They offered a lot of social activities, school clubs, community organizations, games, and sports to keep them busy and out of trouble. That is the way it should be…not an avoidance of play, but lots of opportunities for acceptable amusement.
As you moan and groan with me about the gadgets and devices and expensive toys requested by the children and tweens and teens on your holiday list this year, remember that the pressures of advertisement and commercialism and peers and self-indulgence have long been a part of growing up. It won’t hurt to spoil our children with a little “commercialized amusement” if we also help them balance their lives with other activities and we continue to guide them away from the things that cause lasting damage.
Yes, I think Jesus does care about our play…it’s an important part of who we are.