Eight years ago, I tried to watch Game of Thrones: Season 1. A few episodes in, I put the DVDs back in the case and returned them. I had seen enough. Besides being disturbed by the nihilistic violence and rape, I felt the story of Westeros wasn’t going anywhere meaningful, and I was right. Over the years I have followed the show in the news and observed people’s reaction to it. It’s hard to ignore a piece of culture that has sparked so many interesting conversations between believers and non-believers alike. As our culture collectively obsesses over the airing of the final season, it’s apparent to me the story still hasn’t gone anywhere and has nowhere satisfying to go. Unless the show’s creators pull a rabbit out of a hat, I sense that millions of GoT viewers will be left with an empty feeling in the pits of their stomachs after the final episode airs. They will find themselves yearning for a deeper meaning that will never come.
In case you missed it, HBO just broadcasted the eighth and final season of their show, “Game of Thrones,” which is based off George R.R. Martin’s books. This show (and the books) have now become a sort of cultural phenomenon. The show was the most expensive TV show produced in 2018 and promises to have even more money poured into it in 2019. And why not put that kind of money into it if you’re HBO? Clearly, you’re giving people what they want. An astounding 3.39 million people watched the first episode of season 8. That’s up 20% from the 2.83 million who watched the season 7 premiere, and an increase of 12% over the 3.03 million who tuned in for the season 7 finale.
But it says something about the state of our Christian culture that this show continues to rise in popularity.
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I’ll start by introducing myself and then shift the focus to you, the reader. Ready or not, here we go!
I am privileged to be the co-host of a podcast that focuses specifically on entertainment: movies, books, TV shows, and more! I believe a lot of good can be found in worthwhile entertainment. My brother and I do our best to find the “excellent” part of a piece of media and draw that out for our listeners’ benefit. We believe the Bible sets a precedent for excellence in what we say and do on a daily basis. Daniel was found to have an excellent spirit when he served the king of Babylon and Philippians 4:8 commands us to find the excellent things in life and think on them. Our goal is to show people the excellent things and encourage them to take the next step closer to Christ! I believe that entertainment can be used as a tool for good or evil and I strive to highlight the good as much as possible.
The Sunday Sports Dilemma
This Sunday is perhaps the biggest holiday in America. More than 100 million people from the United States alone will be tuned in to watch the Super Bowl. During the game Americans will eat over 2400 calories of junk food during the game. The Super Bowl has always been played on a Sunday. It’s just a part of our culture and it’s super fun! This year my New England Patriots will once again be defending their reign as a true football dynasty. In the midst of this hubbub it’s easy to forget about another thing that tends to happen on Sundays. What’s it called again? Oh yes, church.
It says something about the state of our Christian culture that blog articles like "Why Christians Should Avoid Watching Rape Scenes” and "Should Christians Watch Game of Thrones?” even need to be written. Yet, with the popularity of original content on Netflix, Hulu, HBO, etc., Christians are confronted with more and more entertainment options that include far more graphic sex and violence than what has been traditionally allowed on TV and in movie theaters. Unfortunately, these questions must be asked.
Recently, Kevin DeYoung wrote a short article on Gospel Coalition entitled, "I Don't Understand Christians Watching Game of Thrones." It was concise and biblically informed, yet some of the responses on Twitter from those who disagreed with him were perplexing. Even if you disagree with my conclusions, hopefully these three excuses aren't of your reasoning:
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