Discerning Entertainment

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My maternal grandfather, James Robson Featherstone (1915–1995), was born in Wallsend, England, and immigrated to America when he was thirteen years old. A talented singer, he rose to prominence during the big band era in Chicago in the early 1940s. He lived his life among the rich and famous, cut many records, played poker with the Three Stooges, and along the way, lost his professed faith, his family, his fame, and his money. Jimmy Featherstone’s wife, my grandmother, who was also involved in entertainment in the 1940s, brought my mother into modeling when she was young. Coming from such a background, it was natural for my mother to see how I might do in entertainment, culminating in my short time as one of the first Backstreet Boys and my declining Lou Pearlman’s offer to be one of the first members of what became NSYNC.

Although I only caught a glimpse of the entertainment industry, it was enough to help me appreciate all that people must do to be successful in that world and, what’s more, to give me a deep sorrow and distaste for much of it. Through my experience in entertainment, God has heightened my sensitivity as I have attempted to lead my family in how we view and enjoy all types of entertainment: from TV shows to movies, from operas to music, from books to Broadway musicals, from bedtime stories to board games.

Entertainment of all sorts can be a wonderful way to rest and recuperate from the busyness, noise, and struggles of life. Entertainment allows our imaginations to travel the world and explore the universe, to go on adventures with hobbits and knights in shining armor, to go back in time and experience history, and to better understand people and our culture. But we must always guard our eyes and our hearts. For we cannot even begin to understand all the ways that Hollywood has affected us. Entertainment affects our minds, our homes, our culture, and our churches. Consequently, we must be vigilant as we use discernment in how we enjoy entertainment—looking to the light of God’s Word to guide us and inform our consciences.

Entertainment isn’t evil in itself, and we can enjoy it as we remember that in whatever we do, our chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever as we live coram Deo, before the face of our omniscient and gracious God.

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