A Higher Standard

IN my work in the entertainment field I've seen firsthand how some performers deliberately lower the quality of their work in order to cater to the supposed taste of the public. Although talent may come through despite harsh language and questionable subject matter, it's unfortunate that the entertainment world often appeals to the lower impulses instead of uplifting audiences through a pure expression of God-given talent. Obviously, there's a wide range of opinion about what entertainment -- or art, for that matter -- really is and what it should do. But it's evident that there's a good deal of tasteless fare to be found these days on television, in the movies, on the comedy stage, and so forth, which doesn't serve a useful purpose.

Why does it matter so much that the standard be raised and that we be more alert to the kinds of entertainment we're supporting? Because humanity needs to be lifted out of the materialism that underlies all of its suffering. What we may accept as harmless titillation often reinforces a false sense of life, a detrimental sense of man as simply animalistic. Such an appeal to carnal tendencies encourages us to have other gods before the one God. To worldly thinking, this may seem normal, but it doesn't do anything to enrich our lives. It can, in fact, undermine our well-being.

Despite what doubt and fear may suggest, our well-being is truly dependent on God and on a perception of ourselves as His offspring. Carnal, sensuous thinking would blind us to God's presence in our lives, as Christ Jesus' teachings clearly show us. And we're told in Romans, ``The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.''

Clearly, it's important not to inflate evil as though it were an all-pervasive presence in the artistic world. But in a society where so many suffer as a result of declining moral standards, we're wise to be discriminating about what we support and about the images we take in.

This is a vital issue if we're increasingly to worship the one God, Spirit, who alone is our creator and the source of our salvation. It's vital if we're progressively to grow beyond the limited, fleshly sense of identity, with its ills, to a perception of our perfect, genuine, spiritual selfhood in the likeness of Spirit. How can we escape the suffering inherent in a physical sense of life except through a growing worship of Spirit and a putting off of ``the old man,'' to use St. Paul's words from the book of Ephesians. He tells us further, ``Be renewed in the spirit of your mind.'' And he instructs us to ``put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.''

To feel that poor taste doesn't matter or that preoccupation with animality is a legitimate representation of reality, is to overlook the fundamental need for spiritual growth. For our own and humanity's benefit, we need to cultivate a deeper view of reality as God-created, nurture a purer concept of man as the spiritual outcome of God, governed by His wisdom and love.

In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, asks: ``What is the model before mortal mind? Is it imperfection, joy, sorrow, sin, suffering?'' She concludes, ``We must form perfect models in thought and look at them continually, or we shall never carve them out in grand and noble lives.''

These words have deep significance as we think about where we look for enjoyment. Certainly we can't ignore the apparent realities of worldly life. Yet perhaps we can help bring to light the genuine reality, the spiritual truth of man, as we're more selective about what we take into thought.

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