It’s Friday afternoon, you just got off school or work and you’re ready for the weekend. You’ve worked hard, done what you had to, and now you’re ready to relax and shut off your brain. But should you?
Entertainment and Leisure have become America’s god of the 21st Century, becoming more valuable and “necessary” to us than ever before. This is proven by our obsession with music defining us, the all-time highest box office records and theater-going attendance, and the thousands of TV channels that cater to every possible interest. And I’m not excluding myself from this; my iTunes influences me and I have an ongoing list of movies that I want to see.
But entertainment doesn’t have to be our god, if we allow it to point us to the real God. What I am referring to is the difference between Amuse and A Muse.
Amusement is defined as “the provision or enjoyment of entertainment.” Amusement is when you “veg” out on the couch and binge watch Netflix, or dazzle at the attractions of an amusement park. A Muse is “a state of being absorbed in thought.” You muse when you ponder the meaning of life after a prolific film, or when you read a book and dream of might be.
Now those who know me well might conclude which of these I prefer. But in all honesty, I need both, and so do you. There are times when life can be demanding and our mental faculties are spent, so we need to just relax our minds and be entertained for a while. At the same time, we should never devalue our standards for the explosions of Michael Bay or the Kardashian drama.
The best art points to something beyond itself, making it an amusing muse. Sometimes this can be done through something amusing like a comic book movie, or something more of a muse such as a Terrance Malick project. But both of them are successful in being stimulating while entertaining. (If you want the best of both worlds, simply check out Christopher Nolan films).
Traces of God, echoes of creation and stories of redemption are found in many different works of art; whether it’s a kid’s film like Wall-E or a franchise such as Lord of the Rings. The key is practicing discernment (an entry for another time).
So the next time you listen to a song, watch a movie, or binge on a TV show, ask yourself if it is an amusing muse, and you might find yourself beginning to ponder on the great Muse of life.