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TELEVISION - The Most Effective Drug of Our Times!
Plain Truth Magazine
June 1964
Volume: Vol XXIX, No.6
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TELEVISION - The Most Effective Drug of Our Times!
Garner Ted Armstrong   
Church of God

Born: February 9, 1930
Died: September 15, 2003
Member Since: 1930
Ambassador College: 1956
Ordained: 1955
Office: Evangelist

Television is being put to a wrong use! Without realizing it, YOU could be ensnared by a powerful habit-forming CURSE!

   You ARE LIVING in the age of the terrible one-eyed monster television! Television, especially in America, is the greatest mass medium of communication ever known to man.
   Actual surveys have proved that TV sets are found in about 88% of American homes, while only 85% of these homes had hot or cold running water, indoor toilets or bathtubs!
   The Census Director, Mr. Richard Scammon, accounted for the strange fact by saying, "I think more people want to watch television than take a bath." But are all these television sets being put to a right use? What is television doing to the average viewer? What about your children?

This Paradoxical Society

   Statesmen admit you live in a world gone mad! World leaders, scientists, top military advisors are frankly frightened! They KNOW, and know in technical detail much more thoroughly than the average layman, the monstrous technological developments which threaten the annihilation of the human race. They know better, by far, than the average man on the street that there are MAD-men in seats of power who could bring about the sudden destruction of this earth!
   Former President Eisenhower said the very existence of hydrogen and atomic bombs, "colors everything we say and do."
   But the average citizen is tired of hearing these staggering facts. He is fed up to the teeth with impending disaster. He has lived in a state of perpetual crisis for most of his life!
   For example, an issue of TV Guide said, "Who is to tell the American public what it should watch on TV? Shall a handful of eggheads tell the public that they should watch only bumbling old men on interview shows discuss what's wrong with the world?... In the quiet of the evening, in our own homes, we want to close the door on the world of reality. We want to relax. We want to be entertained. The Western TV show is the favorite entertainment of Americans. That has been proved each and every week.
   "If the world is going to come to an end, let it come while we're watching 'Gunsmoke, "The Rifleman,' 'Tales of Wells Fargo,' and 'Shotgun Slade' " (TV Guide, emphasis mine).
   Yes, what a paradox!
   In the face of the awesome possibilities of total WAR, our peoples are going to sleep! The lethargic, self indulgent, drowsy, phlegmatic spirit of SLUMBER that is DRUGGING the minds of millions makes them utterly oblivious to the stark, terrifying dangers of the times in which they live!
   Edward R. Murrow told the Radio and Television News Directors Association in Chicago, "we must get up off our fat surpluses and recognize that television in the main is being used to distract, delude, amuse and insulate us" (TIME, October 27, 1958).
   But why should this be so surprising? Perhaps it's true in YOUR home. How many hours, for example, do YOU spend watching television?

The Passing Hours

   For the average American family, it is an average weekly minimum of 20 hours! Statistics published in the New York World Telegram and Sun in 1962, showed the average adult watches television 1,040 hours per year and, at that time, had spent TWELVE THOUSAND, FOUR HUNDRED AND EIGHTY long hours in front of his glaring one-eyed monster during the previous decade!
   Other surveys have shown, especially in large urban areas, that average families have spent up to 35 hours and more in front of their television sets, per week!
   Even if an average American moviegoer, before the advent of television, had seen as much as one movie a week he would have spent NOWHERE NEAR the same amount of hours in having his emotions played upon in various forms of entertainment!
   Television viewers now see three, four, or more full-length motion pictures per week together with sundry Westerns, husband and wife teams, ghastly suspense stories, shockers, thrillers, intrigue, triangles, blood and thunder, murder, divorce, gangsterism, brutality, blood, GORE!
   And, to satiate the seemingly insatiable void of the gullible, lustful public, more and more channels are being opened (new television sets sold from this date forward will have 82 channels).

The Race to Escape

   You are living in such a frightening era that most people want to escape the shocking reality of it all!
   The average person simply prefers not to think about impending danger. He doesn't want to "be bothered" with the big issues of this day! The issues of confused religion; seething, teeming, hate-filled race issues; upset weather; flagging economy; unemployment; civil rights; failing schools and churches; the war in Vietnam; Sukarno's threats; the divided cities of Berlin and Jerusalem; and all the other giant headaches of a world reeling in its orbit in the most frightening period of recorded human history all these are carelessly thrown aside at the cherished hour of the favorite "shoot 'em up" on television!
   Man has invented dozens of effective blindfolds against realism.
   Prior to the big radio shows and the later advent of television where the novels of illicit love, hate and killing with their soothing visions of pseudo-situations which entranced the reader.
   Then came the silent film and vaudeville. Finally pictures began to talk! With the development of talking films, movie land entertainment swept the nation (and the world) with a new era of entertainment like a rampaging prairie fire! New personalities emerged, becoming the "matinee idols" of the day.
   Many an American knows more about the shaving lotion and personal habits of his favorite "star" than he does the workings of his own government!
   Many an American knows whether or not his favorite left-handed pitcher uses "greasy kid stuff," or can comment on his various personal traits, much more readily than he could name any members of the President's cabinet!
   Hollywood quickly captured the imagination of the nation and the world. Quick to catch the vision, the big commercial interests began cashing in by telling the public which kind of cosmetic their personal idol used; what type of cigarette their personal idol smoked; what type of hand cream, deodorant, wave set, or soap kept their idol from smelling bad; or which was his favorite soft drink.
   Almost overnight, the new media of films and radio made the play actor better known than government officials and a whole lot more influential on the public life. The movie going public is probably unaware of the TREMENDOUS influence their constant motion picture viewing has had on their lives!
   Then suddenly, a new craze began sweeping the nation. The invention of television had lowered the level of class entertainment. The factory workers, common laborers, farmers and pensioners could be co-owners, together with the appliance store, of a television set!
   Hollywood was suddenly a lot closer! Now it was possible to bring America's most popular form of entertainment right into the living room!
   There were no cover charges, no nice suits and neckties required, no tipping of waiters, no standing in lines, and no tickets to buy. The truck driver and the millionaire sat in their respective homes and watched with fascinated interest the same shows.
   No longer was it a matter of week-end pleasure-seeking! The glitter of self-satisfaction and sensual enjoyment could be had EVERY SINGLE DAY AND NIGHT for a small monthly payment.
   Television began changing America's habits! The motion picture industry began fighting for survival. Hundreds of theatres closed hundreds frantically lowered prices, cried for better movies, while hundreds more were seriously threatened. The movies fought back. They invented Cinemascope, Cinerama. They had Technicolor.
   In the midst of it all, the blank-minded citizen watched the giant industries combat each other in a duel for his personal favor. The horror of a world in turbulent revolution, about to plunge itself into one last gigantic eruption of war, could be forgotten for a while, as the pleasure-mad public continued to poke at itself whatever medium of temporary diversion and sensual thrill was available.
   Millions of our peoples are being LULLED TO DREAMLAND! Perhaps YOU are SOUND ASLEEP to the awful reality of world-shaking events around you!
   Back in 1938, when television was still a gleam in General Sarnoff's eye, E. B. White wrote, "I believe television is going to be the test of the modern world, and that in this new opportunity to see beyond the range of our vision we shall discover either a new and unbearable disturbance of the general peace or a saving radiance in the sky. We shall stand or fall by television of that I am quite sure.... (emphasis mine).

Addiction to a Drug

   The misuse of television has blended itself into a diabolical DRUG!
   Scientists have revealed that thousands of children allowed to sit in ghoulishly deformed positions for HOURS and HOURS EVERY SINGLE DAY are actually becoming DEFORMED in their bodies from watching television! Many parents regard television as an excellent "automatic baby sitter!"
   ANYTHING to ESCAPE their God-given responsibility of teaching, chastising and training their children! Yes children who should be out in the fresh air and sunshine, building up their bodies, are allowed even ENCOURAGED by their parents to sit for HOURS before a series of programs featuring ROBBERY, FIGHTING, ILLICIT LOVE, VIOLENCE AND MURDER STUFFING their minds with absolute nonsense!
   Scientists have warned the irresponsible parents of our nations of future generations acquiring pitiful deformities due to the abject, calloused indifference of parents who allow their children to slump into bent-backed positions for hours watching television!
   "You are what you eat," it's been said and, physically, that is true. But your MIND, your thoughts, motivations, impulses, emotions, are the total collection of what you think!
   But while many people are quite cautious about what goes into their mouths they are utterly incautious and careless about what enters their minds!
   But think about it! Anything which controls ONE SIXTH OF YOUR WAKING HOURS is certainly GOING to have a great affect on your opinions, impulses, thoughts, values, and the way you act!
   Television is becoming more and more a LITERAL monster, which reaches out to totally devour its unsuspecting adherents. The customs, habits, and way of life of a nation has each, in its turn, been devoured. Television has killed conversation, dulled imagination, and made a total shambles out of whatever remaining vestige of family life there was left in America after World War II!
   Television caters to non-thinkers, dullards, empty-headed dreamers, impulse-buyers, and fantasy-laden wishful thinkers who willingly huddle in front of their trusty tube, settling back into the apathetic abyss of a five-hour span of television viewing! And what does the average person learn on television?
   He learns that all housewives who use "Brand X" are finks that all "cops" are bumbling, fumbling idiots who need a suave, good-looking, fast-talking, gun-slinging private detective to solve their crimes for them. He learns that Baby-face Nelson was more important to American history than George Washington; that scientists and teachers are "squares"; that all cowboys wore six-guns, which fired 20 or 30 shots depending on the number of "flunkies" to be cold-bloodedly downed from their horses (which, miraculously, were never hit though they are a much larger target than a man!); and that human life and limb is one of the cheapest commodities on earth.

And What of the Children?

   But if the avid adult is enslaved by his one-eyed monster what of the pliable young minds of the millions of children?
   The facts are starkly horrifying! And they are absolutely substantiated.
   Literally HUNDREDS of court cases are on record of boys and girls committing crimes as a direct and immediate result of seeing the same type of crime committed on television!
   The Director of Federal prisons told a senate hearing there is a DEFINITE RELATIONSHIP between the high rate of juvenile delinquency and the amount of crime and brutality shown on television.
   The Director, James V. Bennett, said a study at a Federal youth center disclosed that 95 per cent of juvenile offenders had watched television from three to five hours a day. Nearly half preferred crime and detective stories. The prison director quoted one boy as saying, "I saw the housebreaking scene on TV and I tried it and I got caught."
   Recently, a 13-year-old boy stabbed his widowed mother to death by plunging a seven-inch bread knife into her back while she lay sleeping on their couch, in front of the TV set. The boy said he got the "urge to kill," while watching some "crazy movie" on television. "I'm so darn sorry, it isn't funny," he said, "I don't remember what movie I was watching."
   A 14-year-old boy in Osaka, Japan, brutally stabbed to death a teen-aged girl after watching a murder scene on television. "I wanted to see in reality the terrified expression on the face of a murder victim at her last moment," he said.
   In Oklahoma, two brothers aged 12 and 10 held up a local grocery store, KILLED the grocer and his helper, wounded a customer, and then held an armed posse at bay until they were finally tear-gassed into the open. When asked for the reason for their actions, the boys' answer came in one word "television!"
   In Wichita, two teenagers, unknown to each other, both undertook to extort money from bereaved widows, using elaborate planning they had witnessed on a TV program called, "Crime Does Not Pay." Apparently, the program had failed to prove its title to the boys.
   In California, the body of a 12-yearold boy was found hanging from a shower bar in a motel, the victim of an accident as he attempted to re-enact the details of a TV horror show!
   But how many parents are really CONTROLLING what their children watch? "How long," asked one outraged television critic, Paul Molloy, writer for the Chicago Sun-Times and father of eight children, "before perversion and degeneracy come across the tragic lantern in full detail, and perhaps in living color?" HOW LONG, he asked, before this scene takes place in your living room? "You and your children are watching what has become known as a 'realistic' drama. Your fourth-grade daughter turns to you and says: 'What are they doing now, Dad?' And you reply: 'The bad man, dear, is raping the girl. Now hurry and finish your supper; the soup's getting cold."
   What does it take to THOROUGHLY sicken any thinking person with the vile corruption of this godless age? How MUCH EVIL FILTH CAN YOU STAND???

What Does God Say About Television?

   God commands every Christian to COME OUT to have NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS WORLD! (Jas. 4:4). Instead, thousands of professing Christians have found a new method of bringing the ways of this world right into their living rooms!
   The protection offered by the CREATOR-RULER of this universe to those who really SEEK HIM comes from having DRAWN APART having separated themselves from this present Babylonish world! (Rev. 18:4). Many people put their television sets ahead of the Almighty God! THIS WRONG USE OF TELEVISION IS AN ABOMINABLE IDOLATRY!
   The real hungering and thirsting Christian who is eagerly trying to learn more of God's way of life will not have TIME to spend SIX HOURS A DAY OR EVEN ONE HOUR A DAY hunched in the gloomy darkness of his living room in avid admiration before his television set soaking up the knowledge of THIS WORLD with its totally FALSE values its WARPED and TWISTED WAYS OF LIFE that are contrary to the commands of God!
   God says, "If you then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above.... Set your affection on things above, NOT ON THINGS ON EARTH!" (Col. 3:1-2). Are you thinking of spiritual things getting closer to God while you view a crime-thriller or a panel show?
   No you're allowing yourself to think with a CARNAL MIND! You're plunging yourself into the CARNAL, PHYSICAL WAYS OF THIS WORLD! "For to be carnally minded is DEATH; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace" (Rom. 8:6).
   Is DEATH the result you're looking for? Do you really hunger and thirst for ultimate, everlasting DEATH? Or ought you to be seeking to become more spiritually minded more like God?
   You are told in Philippians 2:12 to WORK out your own salvation with FEAR and TREMBLING! Are you glorifying Christ WORKING out your salvation as you sit in front of MURDER STORIES, ENVY, HATE, JEALOUSY, DIVORCE TRIANGLES, WORLDLY SITUATIONS?

Television in Prophecy

   The Apostle Paul, in writing to Timothy, foretold of these exact times! "For know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For MEN SHALL BE LOVERS OF THEIR OWN SELVES.... "
   Yes, a pleasure-mad people is engrossed in the love of SELF as they seek satisfaction of the in sensual lusts!
   "Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God." PUTTING TELEVISION AND SATISFACTION OF THE SENSES IN THE PLACE OF God which God labels IDOLATRY and the committing of spiritual ADULTERY with this present world this Babylonish system of confusion in which you live!
   "Having a form of Godliness, but DENYING THE POWER thereof!" (II Tim.3:1-5). Yes, people profess Christianity they attend Church they have a FORM of Godliness, but that mere outward FORM and CEREMONY is not enough! "How shall we escape, if we NEGLECT so GREAT SALVATION?" asks God, in Hebrews 2:3.
   "Love NOT the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the LUST of the EYES, and the pride of life, is NOT OF THE FATHER, but is OF THE WORLD.
   And the world passes away, and the lust thereof; but he that DOETH the WILL OF God abideth FOREVER!" (I John 2:15-17).
   Are you NEGLECTING your salvation throwing away with impunity your opportunity for ETERNAL LIFE for the shoddy, corrupt, temporary lusts of the flesh?

What to Do About It

   The biggest question in your life could be what are you going to DO about it? "Be ye Doers of the word, and not hearers only" (Jas. 1:22).
   Is your mind attuned to the things of God? "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 2:5). If you have the mind of Christ, will you sit and soak up the ways of this world for hour after hour when you should be studying your Bible training your children spending your time in real earnest PRAYER, helping others, being busy and productive?
   No, of course you won't! But is the LUST inherent within you too strong for your will power to overcome? "For of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage" (II Pet. 2:19). Are you a SLAVE a WHIPPED SERVANT OF YOUR TV SET? God warns you, "Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the LUSTS thereof"! (Rom. 13: 14). The real test is, WHAT ARE YOU yes, YOU, GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?
   Jesus Christ explained the condition of many MILLIONS of Americans when He gave the parable of the sower. Read it in your own Bible! In Matthew the 13th chapter, beginning with the 18th verse. And in Verse 22, "He also that received seed among the thorns is he that HEARETH the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful." God asked, through Elijah,

How to Overcome Your Problem

   If you are honest with yourself, and with God, you will be able to see very clearly the great PRINCIPLE of character behind this television craze that is sweeping the nation.
   But simply agreeing in PRINCIPLE will gain you nothing. Putting a decision, once the right decision has been reached, into ACTION is where the real character is necessary.
   If you can MASTER yourself and CONQUER the TV habit beginning to watch only the constructive, thought-provoking programs asking yourself, "Would Jesus watch this?" at all times; if you can keep your TV viewing in extreme MODERATION according to the Word of God, then you will have learned a valuable lesson one that will strengthen you and add to your character.
   But, if, like many people, you are UNABLE to master yourself to FORCE yourself to control this HABIT, then read what Christ said in Matthew 18:7-9.
   Then you'll have rooted out the source of temptation. But first ask God to give you the strength you lack to help you CONQUER yourself!
   The way to replace bad habits is to exchange them for the right habits. To get the air out of a bottle, you must put a liquid into the bottle. Are you making the most of your time? (Eph. 5:15). Are you studying to improve your mind? (II Tim. 2:15). Are you going FORWARD GROWING in grace and knowledge? (II Pet. 3:18). God has provided the WAY to keep you engrossed in HIS TRUTH to keep you SO FILLED with interest, and zeal that you'll remain STEADFAST until the end (Matt. 10:22).
   You may hear The WORLD TOMORROW program at least once daily ON RADIO. You can read The PLAIN TRUTH magazine every month, and you should take the Ambassador College BIBLE CORRESPONDENCE COURSE. This unique course will open up the Bible to you make it a clear, sparkling with interest, LIVING book; so interesting you'll be eager to search its pages for the living TRUTH of God!
   If you really want to put your spare time to a PROFITABLE use then write in immediately for the Correspondence Course. There's NO CHARGE! Not ONE CENT of tuition! But you've got to really MEAN it! You must be willing to spend at least ONE-HALF HOUR OR MORE EVERY DAY to really study your Bible!
   Write in NOW while you're thinking about it, and request this amazingly different STUDY course of the Bible.

The MIRROR of a Nation's Soul!

   Television is only what the PUBLIC makes it. Television, with all its varied shows, delving into every minute facet of the broad gamut of human emotion, experience, and way of life, mirrors the soul of the REALITY of our times!
   Yes, television is the mirror of the naked soul of a nation. A nation and a people that is drugging itself into calloused, crass INDIFFERENCE to the very meaning of LIFE!
   It is not the television writers, producers, directors nor the commercial sponsors who are to blame. It is the AVERAGE VIEWER the JOHN Q. PUBLIC who is so earnestly and eagerly WILLING TO WATCH!
   The TV industry strives only to give the viewer what he wants to LOOK at! He can check his ratings, taken by electronic machine, telephone calls, personal interviews and very quickly determine WHAT IT IS YOU WANT TO WATCH!
   THAT is television! It's the LUST of mankind, the WHIM of mankind, the VANITY of mankind, the SIN of mankind paraded in an endless, senseless, hideous stream of poison across the video tube and poured into blank minds like water into a dry sponge! This article won't change television.
   God says, "See, I have set before you this day LIFE and GOOD, and DEATH and EVIL... CHOOSE LIFE, that both you and your seed may live!" (Deut. 30:15-19)

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Plain Truth MagazineJune 1964Vol XXIX, No.6
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