Monday, December 1, 2014

Bible Binging

My wife and sons were gone this past week.

As I was preparing for my upcoming week up bachelorhood, I remember thinking, “I can binge on my bible reading.”

I’m trying to read through the bible in a year again and it’s not going well.  I started in October and was way ahead when November rolled around. Then the inevitable happened: I hit Leviticus. Needless to say, I’m way behind now.

So I thought, maybe without any of the other wonderful, but time consuming, aspects of family (like kids to feed and put to bed) I would have ample time to sit and power through several chapters of divinely inspired holy text. 

Almost immediately I realized how foolish this sort of thinking was.  We’ve turned into a “binging” culture, and that’s not a good thing. Typically we’ll binge on TV shows or movies, watching a season or two of our favorite show in a weekend.  This approach to consuming media isn’t necessarily good; it’s just what we do.

Binging on Culture
Critics have commented that TV shows are now being written with binge watching in mind. An entire series doesn’t have to be as well written as long as you’re convinced to click on to the next episode after you finish one. The quicker you progress through the series, the less you realize that it’s not that good. This article makes that point about certain Netflix shows being designed for this kind of viewing [some language in the article]. Whether the criticism of those specific shows is correct or not, it is certainly true that the viewer doesn’t fully digest an episode if there’s only 60 seconds of loading time between concluding it and moving on to the next one.

Patton Oswalt, in his 2010 article, lamented that culture is heading toward “Everything That Ever Was – Available Forever”. Essentially stating that his experience, growing up as a geek involved slowly and methodically approaching culture. Waiting a week for the next episode of a TV show, a month for another comic book, or years for the next Star Wars movie forces the fan to think over the fictional universe. Without the internet there’s no spoilers or secrets leaked; there’s no access to the Wikipedia page of every possible fan theory about every episode.  Comic books were read over and over again. Fans thought about the stories and the characters more deeply and discussed them with their close friends in person. Now every show, comic, or movie is available online, as well as every fan theory, interpretation, or re-envisioning. Quickly immersing oneself in the fan experience has a tendency to cheapen that experience.

Binging on Bible
I get into the rhythm of neglecting my bible then attempting catch up by shoving as much of it down my throat as possible. It’s likely that, in this culture of busyness, you may be guilty of the same bad habits as I am.

And yet, it seems clear to me that if Star Wars ought to be consumed slowly, chewed thoroughly, considered deeply, then the holy scriptures ought to be approached with at least as much care.

Maybe it's time to give up on the culture of binging.  

If watching a season of Hemlock Grove all at once stops you from noticing how bad it is, maybe speed-reading through books of the bible is preventing you from noticing how good it is. 

Maybe it's time to slow down. 

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