We all know that television and electronic games are dumbing down the minds of this present generation; we don’t need another book on that subject. It was the subtitle of Still Bored in a Culture of Entertainment that caught my attention: Rediscovering Passion and Wonder. Winters offers more than a mandate to turn off the TV. He gives theological reasons for doing so.
The gist of the book is that when we are focused on the pursuit of our own pleasures, we miss the greatest pleasures of all that come from contemplating the beauty and majesty of our Creator. As we focus on Him, purposely setting aside the many distractions this world affords, we discover new meaning and purpose. Boredom is not an option.
Quoting Gene Veith, he writes, Boredom is a chronic symptom of a pleasure-obsessed age. (p. 41)
From a 1765 sermon by James Fordyce: There is not, methinks, anything more contemptible, or more to be pitied, than that turn of mind, which finding no entertainment in itself, none at home , none in books, none in rational conversation, nor in the intercourses of real friendship, nor in ingenious works of any kind, is continually seeking to stifle reflection in a tumult of pleasures, and to divert weariness in a crowd.(p. 81)
For those of the current generation the normal reflex when bored is to watch a video or surf the Web. What can we do to help our young people accept the short-term pain of learning creative life skills in order to avoid the long-term pain of chronic subconscious boredom? What can we do to teach them that an addiction to electronic entertainment will shrivel their souls? Many of the short-term solutions to boredom undoubtedly give pleasure. But these are unsustainable and provide only a counterfeit of life and ultimately lead to spiritual emptiness. (p. 124)
My chief complaint about Still Bored is that it seems more like a well-researched term paper rather than the outpouring of an author’s heart. The writing is sometimes choppy. The book’s value, however, is in its thoughtfully chosen quotes. Winter’s insights take a backseat to his original source material, which may be as it should be.