Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Television and Catholics: Some Prudent Guidelines

Television, among other modern inventions, is a hot button issue for some Traditional Catholics. I’ve heard arguments both for it, and against it. Against it are the problems confronting many parents: the way violence and impurity are glorified, the way it slows the brain, and the way it dulls the senses towards good by making it relative; these problems are grievous. For it are the arguments that while there is much bad television, there are also good shows, that one can be discerning about which shows to watch, and that moderation is key. This is the particular view that I espouse. But in these days of relative moderation, is having a television in the home worth the dangers?
As the wife of a non-Catholic, I don’t have much of a say in the matter of whether the TV can stay in our home. My husband likes to watch it to relax, or to indulge in his inexplicable love for the Chicago Bears. I do make the choice to use the television, though,instead of keeping it off and not watching it unless my husband is. There are a two guidelines that I use to determine whether or not I’m going to turn it on.
My first guideline is not to just watch it mindlessly. The habit of having something always going is too easy for me to fall into, and it ruins my productivity. I only turn the TV on when there is a specific show that I want to watch.
My second guideline is to make sure of the audience. Right now, this is simple. For watching TV shows and movies with Eleanor, I keep it short, educational, and wholesome. For myself, I watch shows that don’t tend to glamorize impurity, and aren’t overly violent.

We love PBS, because there aren’t any commercials. Eleanor loves watching Peg + Cat, and the fact that Peg and her mother are always in dresses and Peg introduces us to different historical figures (Beethoven and Marie Curie are two), music, and stories (like Romeo and Juliet). Otherwise, there are some children’s movies that I grew up with. Eleanor is naturally active, and doesn’t sit still for long. In the mornings, we play music if we want to listen to something, and only use the television periodically, less than once a week.
The shows I watch give me an imaginative break, much like reading or watching a movie or play. For example, I like most of the period pieces on Masterpiece Theater by PBS, like Downton Abbey, Poldark, and Death comes to Pemberley, but also some more modern ones, like Sherlock.

What are your rules, if any, for watching television?