I spend lots of time online these days, both writing and surfing subjects of interest to me. Some are serious, like various Bible teachers and devotionals I read and listen to. Others are ways for me to pass the hours with nostalgic memories. Now and then, I’ll be surprised by a serious theological subject popping up in the midst of something frivolous.
One web page I’ve spent time exploring is the Archive of American Television. Since 1997, they have been collecting and posting interviews with famous people who were on screen as well as the greater number of off-camera people who collaborated in producing television programs. I’ve watched interviews with people who made my favorite shows when I was a kid, like Buffalo Bob Smith, who created Howdy Doody (turns out Buffalo Bob led his church choir after he retired), and Bob Keeshan, better known as Captain Kangaroo.
Most recently, I was watching the interview done with Alton Brown, whose cable show Good Eats ran for 14 years on the Food Channel. Alton was bored with the cooking shows he had seen on TV. His idea was to create a show that was one part Julia Child, one part Mr. Wizard, and one part Monty Python. It was certainly something completely different.
The Mr. Wizard part of the show was one of the most ground breaking elements — and the one that most often drove his consulting chefs crazy. On the recipe form Alton created, after every ingredient and step listed came a question: why? Alton said this was a particularly aggravating question for French chefs who just wanted to give directions and hurry on with finishing the preparations so the meal could be served on time. Alton wanted to know why an iron skillet might be better than aluminum, or why you should hold off adding all the ingredients at once.
He explained that viewers won’t taste the finished meal he demonstrated until they make it for themselves. Until then, he considered his job was to keep viewers watching his show. And that has nothing to do with cooking. It’s all about entertaining and fascinating the minds of the viewers. His shows certainly did that. Whether the viewers’ stomachs ever got any benefit was a whole different issue.
That discussion was where the spiritual lesson popped up for me. In church, there is lots of time and effort devoted to intellectually exploring and explaining the theological framework for the Christian faith. Can you recite the Ten Commandments — in the right order? Do you know why the virgin birth of Jesus is important? Can you explain the significance of Jesus promising to “baptize us in the Holy Spirit?” If so, that’s wonderful.
But Jesus also warned that some who thought of themselves as “in” would find themselves left “out.”
Matthew 7: 22. Many will say to me on that day, `Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’
23. Then I will tell them plainly, `I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
Learning the right words is different from having the right relationship. Hearing the lessons counts for nothing if you don’t live the life. Making disciples calls for more involvement than making students or gaining viewers.
I always enjoyed watching Alton’s show. I was curious to learn why meals were put together the way they were. But I never tried a single recipe for myself.
I try to make my books and blogs interesting to read. But nothing in them will matter if you are not responding to the Holy Spirit’s nudge to follow Jesus and listen to him for yourself.