by David Sisler

An incredible mini-series ended this week on HBO: From Earth to the Moon. What a fantastic 12 hours, reliving events which I originally watched live. Watching the last episode tonight with my son, Michael, I smiled when he said, "It would have been awesome to have seen these flights when they actually happened." It was, son. It certainly was.

Another final episode aired this week, and I celebrated the last regular season episode of Seinfeld the way I observed its first regular season episode, and all that went in between by missing it. Put Seinfeld into my growing list of programs that I have never seen, and have no plans to ever watch. There are some "biggies" in there: Dallas, Falcon Crest, Dynasty, and ER, to drop a few names. If it was "must-see-TV" I generally "must-not." What passes for humor is rarely healthy, and to bring "real life" to drama, the writers put bathroom language into the mouths of the actors (to carry the image a little farther, they put in their mouths what they won't hold in their hands).

There was a great line in the last episode of Happy Days, in which Richie's family appeared. As Richie prepared to move his family to California, Mr. Cunningham told his son, "I knew this time would come, but I guess a Dad is never prepared."

I remember 1980, when I moved my family 600 miles to Lugoff, South Carolina a trek that eventually led to Augusta. When I parked the rented truck in front of the parsonage of the little church we came south to serve, I called home. Dad said, "You sure are a long way away." A few years before that move, Dad was sick and I wrote him a letter encouraging him, telling him I was praying for him. When he died two years ago, he still had that letter in his wallet. On the back he had written about his love for my brother, Kyle, and me, and then he said, "You have been so far away. How I have missed your company. It is so lonely without you both." I now carry that letter in my wallet.

Amy received her MRS degree two years ago, Jennifer will receive hers this fall, and I am no more ready for the second wedding and another daughter leaving home than I was for the first. Although they have no plans to leave the area, I know what Mr. C meant. I understand what Dad wrote. That episode of Happy Days ranks among my favorites.

Another classic was the ending of Bob Newhart's second series the one with Larry and Darryl and their other brother Darryl. As I remember it, Bob went to bed, woke up, and without turning on the lights, said, "Honey, I had the strangest dream. I dreamed I owned an inn in Vermont and there were the strangest people." The lights came on and he was in bed with Suzanne Pleshette, his "wife" from his first series. A classic closer.

I have read much of the hype about the final episode of Seinfeld and with almost everyone saying the show was about nothing, I am wondering why bother?

I am also wondering why television controls our lives. Maybe I should rephrase that: why is it that we allow television to control our lives? Talk during the favorite show as it airs in many homes, and you risk a horrible fate. Meals and social events do not take place if they conflict with something on the tube. School kids who cannot tell you when World War I was fought, who cannot find Sarejevo on a map, and who have no idea who killed the Archduke Ferdinand, can tell you, with lightening speed, who killed Kenny (and if only half of what I read, and hear, about South Park is true, you have not missed anything worth watching if you have missed this one).

Our primary source of ethics today is television, and it is teaching us to ignore any ethics except those of our own conceiving. Forty years ago when our family purchased its first television set a second-hand, black and white, 12 inch Sylvania television was relatively innocuous, and Christians debated whether they should watch. Today, most popular programs are filled with objectionable material murder, rape, torture, promiscuity, adultery, vile language, and obscene behavior of all sorts and we are no longer asking that question.

The Apostle Paul counseled the Ephesian believers to no longer live like the heathens, because the minds of the heathens are preoccupied with empty things, their understanding is darkened, and they are strangers from the life God gives. They are filled with ignorance, he said, and their hearts are petrified. And they did that to themselves without the assistance of the shows which pass for entertainment on television today.

Instead of celebrating the final episode of Seinfeld, we should have unplugged our televisions and began to reclaim our lives.

But we did not.

Now whose mind is filled with empty things?


Published in the Augusta Chronicle 5/16/98

Copyright 1998 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.

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