Saturday, June 03, 2006

William Edgar on True Entertainment

William Edgar (professor of apologetics at Westminster Theological Seminary) has an excellent article sketching a Christian theology of entertainment, entitled Good Company, Good Art, and a Good Laugh. I've been meaning to read it for a while, but just finally got around to it.

After explaining our current culture's "amusing ourselves to death" syndrome, Edgar explains that the problem is not entertainment itself. Rather, it's the secularization of entertainment, which is the fruit of the secularization of work.

The better way, Edgar argues, is first to recover the biblical notion of work as "noble-yet-flawed," and then to recover true entertainment (which is a sort of conversation with eternity).

Edgar especially commends four forms of entertainment: (1) laughter; (2) sports; (3) meals; and (4) the arts.

Helpful quote:

“Entertain” is quite an interesting word. It is from the French, entretenir, which means to maintain, or to converse. To be entertained is to maintain a conversation. With what? Negatively, it is mere babble, or chatter. But in the biblical sense, it is a conversation ... with eternity. Amazingly, while you are a sojourner here on earth, you may still keep a conversation going with heaven. C.S. Lewis reminds us of the hard journey of the Christian life. Like the man on horseback, we struggle along the rocky path. But then we come across an inn, and can take some rest. The inn reminds us that the journey is not the whole point, but the destination is. God has given us many inns along the way to our destination as so many reminders of His large purposes of grace. The duty of a good innkeeper is to entertain—provide a warm bed, a good meal, and some music. Entertainment need not be simply comfort and rest. It may be instructive as well. The inn should be well stocked with educational resources, like books.

C.S. Lewis’s great sermon, “The Weight of Glory,” speaks of a desire for a far-off country, a secret so intimate we feel awkward about it, yet we cannot hide from it. Lewis calls it Seinsucht, an inextinguishable longing. Books and music carry its beauty, but are only images of the thing itself, which is glory. Real entertainment, then, is a profound reflection of the presence of God, which we now have (already recognized), and will have in full measure (not yet fully appropriated).