I have just returned from a St. Paisius Monastery retreat weekend. It was so packed with prayer and spiritual direction that it is going to take a while to hang everything on the spiritual/mental hooks needed to access later.
One of the highlights was our group meeting with the resident monk. The last thing he said to us is the first thing I am reflecting on. He said, “Movies are a plague.” The problem he laid out was that we are a people captivated by voyeurism. Voyeurism can have a sexual connotation but our friendly neighborhood monk was defining it in the more general sense; to refer to someone who habitually observes others without their knowledge. He said we are captivated by the movie industry so that it is “normal” to hear people talk about watching videos everyday to relax, calm down, veg out and escape. Let me make sure to say that this is not a critique about the content of the movies we watch. The plaque that the monk spoke about was the serial movie watching bug that has bit so many people.
Essentially, we are becoming a people who constantly watch fictional characters live out scripted lives of love, triumphs, challenges, defeats and victories. They chase bad guys through Moroccan bazaars jumping from cranes to buildings. They fall in love. They have to be “wheels up in 10 minutes.” I used to say, “I never have to be wheels up in 10 minutes.” It was a statement that fictional CIA double agents were living more exciting lives than me. We watch fictional characters live better lives than us. And we are doing it all the time. We are voyeurs.
What are we doing wrong by watching movies everyday? We are avoiding living our own lives. We are avoiding divine providence. Something has got to change.