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Gradualism and the DTV Changeover

When Jesus comes, it will not be as big an event on TV as the DTV.gov analog to digital changeover. All year they’ve been pummeling me with that stuff! Did even the election get as much hype? It’s been so heavy that Mrs. Sheepandgoats finally broke down and sent away for one of those converter coupons (the government is bailing out the TV viewer, kicking in $40 toward each converter box) Me, I would have waited till the screen went dark, then called the station to complain. Nah, we don’t have cable. I’m old enough to remember when TV was free, so it got locked in my head that TV ought to be free, and I’ve successfully resisted all attempts to make me pay for it. Even the converter box frosts me a little, but since the government is paying the lion’s share, I guess I’ll go along.

Not only are these television folk persistent, but they are brazen as well. They say the switch will happen at a certain day and hour in February. How do they know? It’s risky. Sure, they rely on their calendars and calculations and such, but that can mess you up. What if it doesn’t happen when they say it will? Talk about egg on your face! Why chance it? We all know it’s coming. Better to say it is imminent, coming very soon, just around the corner, and leave it at that.

So much have we heard this message of doom to those trusting in analog….for a solid year now….and its not as if its a hard concept to grasp, all they want is for you to spend some money for a converter box….that one begins to wonder why. Could it be that the television industry fears that analog Americans might actually let the screen go dark, turning to other pursuits? I admit, at first this sounds absurd, since all-evening TV is the American dream. But maybe that’s changing. After all, the mainstay in-the-bag viewers signed up long ago for cable or satellite and therefore won’t be affected by the switchover. It’s the people still getting by with rabbit ears (on their televisions, that is) who just might bolt. Unlike decades ago, there’s lots of alternatives now, mostly the internet (which I use as my unlimited library card). You wouldn’t even have to toss your television in the trash, necessarily. It’s still good for DVD movies from Netflix, Blockbuster, or (I like this) the library.

Fear in the industry seems possible to me. Perhaps there really is fear a of boycott. Many are ambivalent about television today. This blog post, in which I put in my two cents….actually four or five….in the comment section, and continued for a time until I got overpowered by pests, whiners, apostates, and soreheads,  ridicules an Awake! suggestion to avoid immoral or violent TV fare. What is on today that is not immoral or violent, the blogmaster asks incredulously. Exactly. Almost nothing. Of course, we all ignore the Awake! and watch that crap anyway, but we don’t feel good about it afterwards. It’s all somewhat debasing, and even as we lap it up by the hourload, something within us says it’s not so good for our mental, emotional, and spiritual health. So chuck it! Let the screen go dark and turn to something more wholesome.

Television will have done it to itself. For if there is nothing but violence and immorality, that was not always the case. Hereis a post highlighting words of the 81 year old Dick Van Dyke. Yeah, it may have been somewhat prudish to insist upon “one foot upon the floor” in the bedroom scenes of his show, he says, but contrast that with what pours out of the pipe today, to be beamed abroad to culturally conservative countries that see American television as the country’s prime export and so wonder at what a sick country the U.S. must be.

We had a couple from the congregation over for dinner recently. Nice folks, we enjoyed their company and no, we didn’t play any Bible games. But they got antsy as the evening wore on, and as 9PM approached, they all but jumped up and down like kids having to go to the bathroom. They were worried about missing The Unit! (or was it 24?) After they left, I turned on the set to see what the fuss was about. Not thirty seconds into the show, one fellow was holding a knife to another’s eye so as to get him to talk. I turned the set off, but within a week saw the same knife-to-eye trick on some other preview; apparently it’s the rage today. And wasn’t there, just last week, an NPR report on how third-rate terror countries look to Unit-type shows to augment their training?

Now, telling this experience makes me look pious and righteous, and our pals not so good. But don’t you think I have hangups of my own? Do you think? TV watching just doesn’t happen to be one of them. Moreover, I fully realize these shows are addicting. Chances are I too would get hooked were I to see enough of them.

It was Andy Laguna the circuit overseer….was it during the 1980’s?….speaking about gradualism. We’d never go directly from Gunsmoke to today’s sadism….we just wouldn’t tolerate it…. but nobody tries to take us there directly. Instead, it is one tiny step at a time, a journey of many decades which you have to have been around for long enough (trust me, I have) to appreciate.  As a kid, the Twilight Zone used to scare the everlovin daylights out of me. Now I work with a young mother who plunks her two-year old in front of Chucky movies. (I think I’ve persuaded her it’s not such a hot idea.) The change in what we tolerate came not directly, but through gradualism. Mack Campbell got everyone applauding for that talk….unusual because this was a mid-week talk, and they’re not typically applauded.

So maybe…finally….TV has got itself so perverse that…….Uh ohhhh! As I write this over the course of several days, I just heard it announced (1/7/09) that the government has run out of funds for converter coupons! There will be blood in the streets if they don’t print some more. (coupons or money or both) This could be the event that triggers Armageddon!

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Just heard on the evening news that they voted to stall the date for a couple of months. That first part of your post has a lot of irony in it.

And thanks for the reminders. My wife and I like to rent movies every now and again, and although you still can find some good ones, it is ridiculous how many are just too violent/spirtistic/immoral/foul mouthed, etc.

And series on TV today? I can't stand the blood and gore. I turned to Fox to watch one of these episodes of ahh..what was it...The Fringe, and it had a scene of a guy with his chest cut open and this weird looking thing that was connected to his chest, my kid was watching TV with me, and couldn't sleep good that night. Just from watching like 5 seconds in passing.

The CSIs are even worse. And Hero's I've seen a few minutes from an episode or two a couple of years ago, this "HERO" was adulterating in the scene then she went on to horrificly bash someone to pieces useing violence, and then went lying to her daughter about everything, who was lying to her. That's all I saw before turning it in disgust, and thought, these are the 'heros' of this generation?

Tom Sheepandgoats Harley

I recommend TV tickets for the sake of the youngsters:


Oh, and even though I said I've resisted all attempts to make me pay for TV, that doesn't include the public stations, where I spend almost all of my TV (and radio) time.

Kicking around the other day, I saw that the show 24 was about to start. I'd not seen any of it since the snippet I speak about in the post. But, alas, i didn't get more than two minutes into it. It hasn't changed.


I agree wholeheartedly. I can't stand most of whats on TV. I do pay for it, though. I watch PBS, History Channel, Discovery, Discovery Science, etc...I learn lots of cool stuff. MY step-son gets bored easily with a lot of it, but he's starting to get interested in the construction and animal stuff.

My point? It is such a long span of time between when I watch network TV (CBS, NBC, FOX) that when I do, I am actually shocked with what I see. I still remember when Simpsons was cutting edge. I must either be getting older, the world more perverse, or both. I figure both, because then at least there's no downside to getting older, fatter, and balder. :)

Tom Sheepandgoats Harley


As stated, we had the TV ticket policy which essentially limited commercial TV to 2 hours a week, though public TV was unlimited. When my boy was 6 or 7, I heard him tell someone how much he loves TV because he learns so much. He actually thought that was its purpose.

Awake In Rochester

PLEASE come visit my blog. A young women with cancer needs prayers!

I can't afford the converted box yet. I hope they delay the switch.

Mary from Meander With Me

Can't help but agree with much of what you wrote. I know that when a teenager, what I watched on the movie screen did have something to do with shaping the adult I became, but most of the credit goes to my two parents who impressed upon me early in my childhood to be honest,truthful,take responsibility for my actions, have compassion for the less fortunate, treat all animals with kindness and consideration, and, in general be the kind of person others can trust. I know it isn't just today's society that's at fault, but far too many parents become parents who are far from ready to be the kind of parents I had and who guided me ito adulthood. And, indeed, what's on the movie and tv screens today, has a greater influence on the young mind than when I was growing up. There is far too much gore and violence. I just don't watch it and never have. At 89, I still love a good Disney Cartoon.

Tom Sheepandgoats Harley


The earliest cartoons were written as much for adults as for kids. Recall they were shown in movie theatres as short clips before the main show, the same as movie previews are shown today. Today's TV cartoons are strictly kid fare.

Current animated movies, however, recapture the quality of old cartoons. Go rent WallE, for example, or Cars, or The Incredibles. You'll see what I mean. I think you may enjoy them as much as the cartoons from when you were younger.

Mary from Meander With Me

Tom, I'm still very much a youngster at heart, so I'll look into Cars and The Incredibles, but do they compare to such Disney classics as The Lady and the Tramp, The Fox and the Hound, Cinderalla, Bambi, Oliver, The Aristocrats and so on? After I leave your blogsite, I think I'll watch one of four "shorts" I've downloaded ... Johnny Appleseed". Those four "shorts" are treasures worth treasuring.

Tom Sheepandgoats Harley

Mary, I think they are, or at least they are close. Of course, they are contemporary, with contempory themes and settings. Of the three I mentioned, I think WallE would best compare with the films you listed.

As for being a youngster at heart, yes you are.


Tom, I was sort of hoping that the screen WOULD 'go dark' around here. So much that airs is unacceptable that I just don't see the need to turn it on at all. I can get the weather and the news from the internet ... and, by being a judicious clicker, skip most of the jiggle, wiggle and gore.
Alas, such was not to be. In a 'mixed blessing', my wife bought a converter box. However, she paid so little (and I haven't volunteered to put up a better antenna!) that she only gets a few channels ... mostly (ahem) news and weather. ;-)


"Of course, we all ignore the Awake! and watch that crap anyway, but we don’t feel good about it afterwards. "

Gradualism, Tom? When did language like that creep into your vocabulary?

I haven't turned the tube on in at least two years. It is in no way essential to my life. More generally, I am directing 'the missus' to either "change the channel or pull the plug" as I walk through the living room. Usually 3-5 seconds is all it takes to see where a show is going and it's almost invariably 'going south'. It's not that I choose 'just the moment' to walk through the living room ... it doesn't make any difference when I walk into the room -- the show ONLY 'goes south'.

I don't want it to take my wife with it.

With the possible exception of synchronized swimming, most sports are beyond the pale today. Although many of my local brothers still watch football as some kind of second religion (just try to get together a work detail on a playoff Saturday!), that sport is still played in body armor ... and is thus beyond what any Christian should be giving his or her attention to.

So what else is there that -might- be considered acceptable?

I prefer to find out what's good from the little kids in the congregation ... and have the DVD's to prove it.

"Bug's Life" and the "Shrek" series get two thumbs up at our house as do "Riverdance" and "Bowfire". So do live performances of classical music ("Shahan Plays Brahms" at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra recently was superb and the local community orchestras are generally worth at least double the price of admission! Buffalo has a symphony orchestra and probably a dozen local mini-orchestras ... try to get out to hear a recital of "Joseph Boulogne, Le Chevalier Saint Georges, also known as “Le Mozart Noir”. Breathtaking.)

There are lots of things we can do for entertainment that do NOT include the violence that Jehovah detests. They are not hard to find. All we have to do is turn the tv off and go looking for them.

Tom Sheepandgoats Harley

"Gradualism, Tom? When did language like that creep into your vocabulary?"

Well....I don't use the word in Scrabble.

I hear where you're coming from, Bill. I suppose I shouldn't use such words. I don't go there too often. Still, language changes over time. Many common words and expressions used today have off-color origins.
There are several instances of very graphic accounts relayed in the Bible.....the Ezekiel chapter of Oholah and Oholibah, for example. It's hard for me to imagine that such were not expressed in the course language of the day, rather than clinical terms.

Nonetheless, your point is well taken. I suppose I don't have to be on the cutting edge of crass language. Even though I'm not writing for the friends, but for my own amusement and to an audience many of whom use words much saltier. 'To those without law I became as without law....and to the weak I became weak,' and so forth. (1 Cor 9:21)

Regarding viewing habits of the wife, I used to do much the same. But in time, I stopped it. She has her own tastes. Her conscience works as well as mine, and responds to more subtle persuasions. Indeed, she is not the one who says "crap," or if she is, she learned it from me. In recent months, she will sometimes watch some of those medical dramas like Dr House, it being her field. I can't stand them, but she enjoys them as a passtime. I have my own separate hangups.

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