Over saturated by media: “afraid to confront the blankness of their own minds”


Too dull to think, people might read: too tired to read, they might look at the moving pictures: unable to visit the picture theatre they might turn on the radio: in any case, they might avoid the call to action: surrogate lovers, surrogate heroes and heroines, surrogate wealth filled their debilitated and impoverished lives and carried the perfume of unreality into their dwellings. And as the machine itself became, as it were, more active and human, reproducing the organic properties of eye and ear, the human beings who employed the machine as a mode of escape have tended to become more passive and mechanical. Unsure of their own voices, unable to hold a tune, they carry a phonograph or a radio set with them even on a picnic: afraid to be alone with their own thoughts, afraid to confront the blankness and inertia of their own minds, they turn on the radio and eat and talk and sleep to the accompaniment of a continuous stimulus from the outside world: now a band, now a bit of propaganda, now a piece of public gossip called news.

Mumford, L. (1934). Technics and Civilization. New York: Harcourt Brace, pp. 315-316.

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Let us prove our minds are set on beauty and true excellence

Let the people bring out their talents, and have the variety within them brought forth and made manifest so that we can behold it, like the variety in the works of nature. See the variety God has created—no two trees alike, no two leaves, no two spears of grass alike. The same variety that we see in all the works of God, that we see in the features, visages and forms, exists in the spirits of men. Now let us develop the variety within us, and show to the world that we have talent and taste, and prove to the heavens that our minds are set on beauty and true excellence, so that we can become worthy to enjoy the society of angels, and raise ourselves above the level of the wicked world and begin to increase in faith, and the power that God has given us, and to show to the world an example worthy of imitation.

Brigham Young, Journals of Discourses, 11:305

Replacing portrayals and performances that are depressing, demeaning, and destructive

Dallin H. OaksPresident Brigham Young (1801–1877) gave us some practical advice on how to recognize Him whom we follow. “The difference between God and the Devil,” he said, “is that God creates and organizes, while the whole study of the Devil is to destroy.” In that contrast we have an important example of the reality of “opposition in all things” (2 Nephi 2:11). Remember that our Savior Jesus Christ always builds us up and never tears us down. We should apply the power of that example in the ways we use our time, including our recreation and our diversions. Consider the themes of the books, magazines, movies, television shows, and music we in the world have made popular by our patronage. Do the things portrayed in our chosen entertainment build up or tear down the children of God? During my lifetime I have seen a strong trend to set aside entertainment that builds up and dignifies the children of God and to replace it with portrayals and performances that are depressing, demeaning, and destructive. The powerful idea in this contrast is that whatever builds people up serves the cause of the Master, and whatever tears people down serves the cause of the adversary. We support one cause or the other every day by our patronage and by our thoughts and desires. This should remind us of our responsibility to support what is good and motivate us toward doing this in a way that will be pleasing to Him whose suffering offers us hope and whose example gives us direction.

Dallin H. Oaks, “The Atonement and  Faith,” Ensign,  April 2010

See also, Dallin H. Oaks, “Powerful Ideas,” October 1995 General Conference

Art and media filled with light

“The promoters of darkness often seem to have direct access to the media microphone. We may not be able to take that away from them, but we can at least raise our own voices. We can teach correct principles often and in as many ways as possible.

“Since darkness is the absence of light, surely the most powerful way to counter darkness is to fill the world with light. One of my associates observed recently:

“Light and darkness cannot occupy the same space at the same time.
“Light dispels darkness. When light is present, darkness is vanquished and must depart. More importantly, darkness cannot conquer light unless the light is diminished or departs” (Robert D. Hales, in Conference Report, Apr. 2002, 80-81; or Ensign, May 2002, 70).

“Is it not part of our work as sons and daughters of God to encourage creative efforts that dispel darkness and replace it with light? Indeed, one objective of the Lighted Candle Society is to promote “positive and uplifting . . . education and entertainment.” How powerful a force for good would be a renaissance in literature, art, technology, and science that adds light rather than takes it away! Such a renaissance is possible. There are among us artists and artisans who need only to receive a little more support and encouragement from men and women of conscience to produce works that could rival those that half a millennium ago marked the end of Europe’s Dark Age and the rise of a wonderful new cultural and spiritual Renaissance.

“As we fill the earth with art (and media) that is good and uplifting—as we fill the earth with light and knowledge—our children will see the darkness for what it is. They will see that it is counterfeit, that it brings only sorrow, pain, and emptiness. They will come to prefer light and be attracted to that which is good and true.”

From a speech given by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland at the Fourth Annual Guardian of the Light Award Dinner of the Lighted Candle Society.

The standard is clear

The standard is clear. If something we think, see, hear, or do distances us from the Holy Ghost, then we should stop thinking, seeing, hearing, or doing that thing. If that which is intended to entertain, for example, alienates us from the Holy Spirit, then certainly that type of entertainment is not for us. Because the Spirit cannot abide that which is vulgar, crude, or immodest, then clearly such things are not for us. Because we estrange the Spirit of the Lord when we engage in activities we know we should shun, then such things definitely are not for us.

David A. Bednar, “That We May Always Have His Spirit to Be with Us,” Ensign, May 2006, 28–31