By Judy Brandon: CNJ Religion Columnist
The word “media” encompasses a wide variety of devices and systems these days. When my sister Susie and I were growing up, media meant radio, the newspaper, Reader’s Digest and especially television.
Susie and I had our favorite TV shows, and one of them was “Gunsmoke.” As I remember, “Gunsmoke” came on Saturday night (I think), and we were tried-and-true fans. We also were fans of “The Lone Ranger,” “Hopalong Cassidy” and “Roy Rogers.” But I think “Gunsmoke” and “Roy Rogers” tied for our favorites. We found these shows exciting because the right always won out. Things would get tense, the bad guy would get the upper hand and then what we thought was a hopeless situation would turn into the bad guy losing and the good guy victorious.
“Gunsmoke” had to do with the wild prairie settlement of Dodge City, Kan. Marshall Matt Dillon was the sheriff, and he would not let wrongs go unpunished. He always did the right thing. If a stranger would come to town, Matt Dillon was eyeing him from the moment he rode in.
I read that the era was around 1873, when the Wild West was in full swing and true to its reputation. Marshall Dillon had several people who helped in the pursuit of right. His best friend was more like a father figure: Doc Adams. He was the local doctor and took no nonsense from anyone. Then there was Miss Kitty at the Long Branch Saloon. Susie and I, having no inkling of saloons in the Wild West days, thought Miss Kitty was just a nice lady and she ran a place where people went to eat supper.
There was one more on the scene: Festus, Marshall Dillon’s sidekick and deputy. He seemed to come through when it really mattered, although he came across as having not much sense.
“Gunsmoke” was about as rough as it got for these two little girls. Now back to the word “media.” That word has come far from newspaper, radio and television. Now it means iPhone, BlackBerry, BlackJack, DVDs, Dish Network and Starz, and MySpace.
But along with those television changes have come other changes. Nowadays it is not safe to watch television when company is around. Even if you are watching something wholesome and uplifting, sometimes the advertisements on television are offensive.
When I was a kid, even Lucy and Desi had separate beds and they were married. Now we have shows where warnings of “viewer discretion advised” are the leads into the episode. It seems the weirder and more disturbing television gets, the more people tend to watch.
I suppose “Gunsmoke” wasn’t the best thing to watch back then, but Susie and I in our naivety seemingly didn’t get the big message —if there was one. But I am quick to wince these days when I see something on television that is bizarre or lewd or decadent.
We ought to watch what we watch. That reminds me of a scripture. Paul gave his readers advice on keeping their minds set on good things.
“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse,” Philippians 4:8 (The Message).
Those are good words for all of us as we flip through the channels each night.
Judy Brandon is a Clovis resident. Contact her at: