We’ve owned a flat-screen HDTV for a while, but I didn’t really care about it until recently when I saw a nature program in high definition. I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the screen! Every water droplet in perfect detail, the leaf edges crisp and clear, flowers so vibrant I could have sworn we were actually there. My husband thought it was funny that I finally realized the value of HD, after all this time of owning one.
But as beautiful a picture as it was, I still couldn’t smell the flowers or feel the dew on the ground. Viewing the forest from my comfortable air-conditioned home told me nothing about the quality of air there, whether humid or pleasantly dry, whether cool or oppressively hot. All of the physical beauty, but none of the real experience.
Cooking programs in HDTV also amaze me. Camera angles are designed to reveal the beauty of the food, and the ease with which the chefs prepare it. But what about the nitty-gritty of cooking — the feel of it, the smells, and the dishes! Yesterday it rained all day and with my two children home for the summer we decided to make French bread together.
We used flour, salt, sugar, oil, warm water and yeast. We mixed and kneaded, waited for it to rise, and kneaded some more. Then we rolled it into two loaves, and waited for it to rise again. Finally we baked it, and enjoyed our beautiful bread with a simple Caesar salad for dinner. And what an experience! We had flour all over the kitchen, and all over ourselves. The funniest part was when my son, who loves to “test” all kinds of yummy batter as I cook, sneakily pinched off some of the raw dough and stuck it in his mouth, only to spit it out in horror less than a minute later.
We all had a good time, even while cleaning up the mess (but don’t look too closely)! It doesn’t even remotely compare to FoodTV.
So in all of this it occurred to me that high definition TV is just one example of the many ways we’ve become a society of “viewers” — an audience, watching from our comfortable places of leisure while someone else experiences the real thing. We leave adventure and action films with adrenaline pumping through our veins and the taste of popcorn in our mouths, and hop into our SUVs to head home. And I fear it goes deeper than physicality. Movies about spiritual warfare and great adventures in other-worldly places inspire our imagination for a time, but then what? We hear sermons and read books about God, but then what?
Let’s stop waiting for the next show, the next entertainment. There’s something Real for us, right now.