The entertainment industry is a multi-billion dollar business. It would be difficult to measure the impact on society of the seemingly limitless forms of entertainment. More Americans voted in the 2009 American Idol contest than have voted for any U.S. President (Bella, 2009; “2008 Official…,” 2009). The time and money spent on making, marketing, and viewing movies and television programs is staggering. Prior to the baby boomer generation, forms of amusement in American society were tempered and significantly curtailed—by design. The WW2 generation spent very little time and money on diversion, recreation, and “playing.” And it wasn’t just that they did not have the financial resources; they believed that their time and money were better spent on more meaningful, worthwhile pursuits. But with the arrival of the “party generation” (and the two generations since), devotion to amusement and entertainment has escalated, and that devotion now literally dominates life in America.
Hollywood did not exist prior to the 20th century. Its influence on American civilization over the last century has been catastrophic. The invention of the camera, cinema, television, and the multitude of electronic formats now available have significantly transformed daily living. These inventions, though harmless in themselves, have provided citizens with the means of entertainment unparalleled in human history. What’s more, the influence of Hollywood and the entertainment industry has so encroached on moral and spiritual sensibilities that political leaders, news organizations, and even church leaders routinely incorporate into their roles homage to Hollywood personalities and entertainers.
The Bible plainly teaches that, while some diversion is appropriate, the obsession with pleasure and frivolous amusement that has come to dominate many Americans is sinful and destructive to spiritual health and mental sobriety (1 Timothy 5:6; 2 Timothy 3:4; Titus 3:3; James 4:1-3; 5:5; 2 Peter 2:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11). Since the Founders of America were so whetted to the Christian religion and familiar with their Bibles, they were well aware of the harmful effects of entertainment in general, and the acting profession in particular, on efforts to preserve the American way of life. So much so that the Continental Congress considered the following two resolutions on October 12, 1778:
Whereas true religion and good morals are the only solid foundations of public liberty and happiness:
Resolved, That it be, and it is hereby earnestly recommended to the several states, to take the most effectual measures for the encouragement thereof, and for the suppressing of theatrical entertainments, horse racing, gaming, and such other diversions as are productive of idleness, dissipation, and a general depravity of principles and manners….
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