This morning I got to thinking about our television. We have one in our family room, however it does not get any reception. This usually does not cause any grumbling except on days like today when my children wanted to watch the Papal Mass from Washington DC. At times like this, we have to call up Grandma and kindly ask if we can invade her house so that we can indulge ourselves in the program of the moment (like in a few weeks when the Kentucky Derby is run!). On our way home after the Mass this morning, I was thinking about how glad I am that we do not have any TV reception. Sure we miss out on some good educational programming once in a while, but I often think about what it would be like in our house if we had cable or a dish. Since our children are prone to argue over who gets what plastic cup, I can't even imagine the daily battles we would have over who gets to watch what TV program. I can envision that it would require some kind of "TV Show Picking Schedule" or something.
I also thought back to when we did have TV reception, which was about 12 years ago. I remember what it used to do to me. I became obsessed with quiet when my favorite show was on. What a pain it was to have to shush the small children for the 30 or 60 minutes of viewing, but they kept asking questions and I couldn't hear the show. I began then to realize that TV was becoming a bad thing in my life. Next, I noticed that my oldest daughter would become like a zombie whenever the TV was turned on. You could stand in front of her and talk all you wanted, but if the TV was on, she couldn't hear a word. That was the next sign that TV was becoming a bad thing in our lives. A while after that, I got a newsletter from the group Caritas in Alabama. It was entitled "I See Far" and discussed the evils of television and the effect it was having on us. While it might be viewed as being somewhat extreme in its message, it certainly got us thinking about the topic. A little while later, we decided we were being called to stop watching TV, or at least as much as we had been watching. It was then that our TV started revolting. We began to have this problem with it that whenever we did turn it on, we couldn't turn it off. We would hit the power button but we could still see and hear the picture. It was quite creepy. One time my parents, who were staying with us for the weekend, turned the TV on on Sunday morning to watch the news and we couldn't get it to shut off for anything! Even unplugging it didn't help. I finally sprinkled it with holy water and unplugged it again. That really convinced us that we needed to stop watching TV.
So, the next two houses we moved into, we never hooked up an antenna or cable. We tried the Sky Network dish for a while, but by then we were so used to not watching TV that it became a waste of money. We always seem so pressed for time, that I can't imagine how much more stuff wouldn't get done if the TV played a major role in our evenings. Without it, we are free to go outside, read, play and pray our rosary without worrying that we are going to miss something "important" on the TV. Sometimes God has to keep bombarding me with hints, but I'm glad now that we finally agreed to see things His way, even if it means that sometimes we have to put out more effort when there is something worthwhile to watch.