Junk food is by artificial means flavoured and coloured,
exceedingly sweetened and to a great extent habit-forming. It is harmful
to the physical and mental health and the consumption of it counteract
or even puts the beneficial and healthy nutrition out of order. Recently
it was shown in the movie “Supersize me” (a film which runs
down Mc Donalds) that junk food even causes diabetes.
The television is an almost exact spiritual equivalent to junk food.
Almost all the content of the programs is uneducated and not nutritious,
the opposite to sound mental health, and is full of values that are
in opposition to a sound and healthy community. The lifestyle and the
ideal presented there is artificial, corrupted and unpleasant. Besides
the television is highly habit-forming.
Even cartoons intended especially for children contain cruel, aggressive
and violent actions, that later is reflected in the behaviour of children
in the schools and in playing. It is repeatedly shown in experiments
done by University of British Columbia (Canada) and in studies and examinations
in United States and in Europe, that TV-watching gives rise to negative
ideal and pattern of behaviour in young people and that children tend
to accept TV’s versions of life and behaviour as acceptable models.
TV’s commercial, which is designed to increase and make money
out of the desire of every human, is very popular among children. Repeatedly
we have seen that televisions commercial have a great effect not just
on children’s senses, that are easily influenced, but also on
many grown-ups. This commercial seems to start, build up, increase and
then use all sorts of lusts and cravings.
If one would scrutinize the moral content of the TV-programmes, including
cartoons for children and the commercial, one would realize that they
are in complete opposition to Orthodox Christian ideal. When knowing
this, please take a moment and compare the number of hours both children
and adults spend under the influence of TV with the time they spend
in church, praying and reading the Scriptures and other spiritual edifying
books. Apparently the dark influence by satan and his ideal is established
in our children’s lives in an early age and in our home.
This problem is often associated with the sad fact that many parents,
who is proud of their TV set, at the same time is ashamed of the icon
of our Saviour. The TV set is placed on an obvious place, almost a place
of honour, in our homes and the icon corner does not exist at all; and
if there is icons, they are taken away from the headroom, not to “cause
Many parents, who allow their children to watch TV for hours, do not
spend so much as ten minutes together with their children in prayer
in front of the icons. The Saviour and His saints is embarrassing, they
are not very welcome, while the Evil One’s liturgy, which is daily
performed on TV, gets a place of great honour by the family members.
The family who would never think of reading together about the lives
of saints or the Scriptures, can eat in front of the TV, just like the
pagans did share their celebrations with the idols; and often do these
families also neglect to bless the food before eating it.
Later will the parents in those families be sorry for the lack of moral
and spiritual standard of their children. How often do you read about
the lives of the saints to your children? How much time do your family
spend together in prayer in front of the icons? How often can your children
see an icon of the Saviour or saints in your home? On the other hand,
how much time do they spend with violent, aggressive and cruel cartoons?
How much time do they spend with loud-voiced, aggressive, sensual and
unmoral anti heroes on the TV?
No one is foolish enough to be of the opinion that a physical and mental
healthy child can grow up if he eats more junk food, or even the same
amount as healthy, natural and nutritious food. Why would anyone be
that foolish and suggest that one can raise an emotional, mental and
spiritual healthy child with spiritual junk food?
The television, as much as any other thing invent by humans, have been
dedicated the demon of greedy and enviousness and it is manipulated
especially for the purpose to increase and take advantage of every humans
lust and cravings. Even the sporadic “proper” programmes
are more then well compensated by commercials made to satisfy and gormandize
on human cravings.
Some people say, for excellent reasons, that it is better to have a
TV set at home where the watching can be controlled then to let one’s
child watch TV somewhere else under uncontrolled conditions. There is
great truth in this. But take a moment and ask yourself if your TV takes
precedence over your icon corner, if TV takes the greater part in your
children’s lives in relation to Christ. Do you feed your children
with spiritual food, or spiritual junk food? Knowing that every parent
is to be held responsible before everyone’s Judge about how they
have raised their children, should be enough to make them take a moment
and seriously reflect on this question, even though the parent’s
decision alone is not enough to solve the problem.
Translation from a swedish text. Originally from Canadian
Orthodox Message, which is published by OCA’s episcopate in Canada.
Father Lazar Puhalo is a retired archbishop in Ottawa in Canada.