In today’s culture we have taken the pursuit of pleasure to an unhealthy extreme. In doing so, we have lost our ability to experience the very pleasures we are pursuing.
In last week’s post I gave a brief definition of what anhedonia is. This week I’ll present some problems and how it effects our lives and the church. Finally, be here next week as I will present some practical solutions.
Anhedonia’s Effect on the Family
Some examples on how anhedonia is effecting our society:
- A need for stimulation in order to focus. I know that many kids today claim they can’t focus on completing homework without music blaring in the background. This is like a drunk saying he can’t function at work until he has a six pack in him. It’s an indication of the problem. Neither the drunk, nor the student can function or study very well–they just think they can.
- An addiction to entertainment. As teens continue to indulge in media, anhedonia kicks in by destroying the pleasure centers of the brain. This results in teens, or adults, needing more and more entertainment to fulfill a “fix.” In other words; in order to reach a sense of fulfillment in entertainment, the person will need bigger explosions, more action, etc.
- An unhealthy reliance on multitasking. As dependency on technology evolves, many are given into the false illusion that we can get more done by multitasking. Studies at MIT have proven that people who multitask are about 30% less efficient, even though they would swear otherwise.
- A destruction of relationship development. When it comes to relational issues, we’ve all seen a family of five eating at a restaurant while dad checks his email; mom is on Facebook; and the children are either texting, playing computer games, or talking on the phone–sometimes all at the same time! Where’s the family interaction here? This is the new normal; but, there is incredible fall-out as a result–too much to mention in this blog. I’m sure you can imagine.
Anhedonia’s Effect on the Church
What frightens me most; however, is what is happening to the church and its future. Below are some examples of how anhedonia is effecting the church.
- A lack of understanding of the Scriptures. Today’s digital stimuli has left no margin in life for young people to study or even read Scripture–it’s just too brutally boring for the anhedonic brain. Our ability to contemplate anything–much less pray–has been whittled away by the insidious art of media driven entertainment and multitasking; consequently, Christians are not adopting the biblical worldview of previous generations–even though they would not hesitate to call themselves Christians. All one has to do is to look at the Barna reports on the subject to prove my point.
- Churches are closing there doors. Why? Because nobody is attending. We are a people who now live for today only–not stopping long enough from our immediate gratification to consider the deeper and more inevitable issues of life. Kids are allowed to be in front of screens for virtually as many hours as they are awake, which makes acquiring a biblical foundation next to impossible. They have no point of reference for right or wrong beside what Hollywood, Madison Avenue, their friends, the liberal media, and their public schools have indoctrinated them with–often via digital devices. Anhedonia has affected and infected even the most committed believers today.
- A lost in desire for learning. A couple of years ago, Chuck Swindoll spoke of the biblical illiteracy of current Bible college freshmen–many of whom couldn’t even distinguish the Saul of the OT with the Saul of the New! This was kindergarten material just a generation age. I’m sure Mr. Swindoll didn’t understand the anhedonic condition of people as a whole when he made his observation. He just knew that a knowledge of Scripture by the average American has diminished tremendously.
- The line between the culture and church is blurred. Many churches too often tend to contribute to the problem; all in the name of relevancy. Churches and youth groups will regularly use entertainment during their services to attract new people. The problem is that what’s attracting them isn’t keeping them. What people find pleasurable and refreshing, believe it or not, is the truth! Many churches, however, with all good intentions, are using entertainment to fill the pews. But, people who are truly seeking truth are now even sick of the entertainment in the church; because it’s too often incongruent with the truth they are seeking–and, quite honestly, not as entertaining as what they are used to through secular media.
What the church doesn’t realize is that these anhedonic seekers have all the entertainment they can stand outside the church. Remember; the anhedonia I’m talking about is the result of an overindulgence of entertainment and/or multitiasking with media. What they truly want is the the truth without all the hype to discredit it.
As individuals, it’s going to take a tremendous degree of self discipline to overcome the temptation to do what feels good every waking moment and pursue some things that simply are good. Just like diet and exercise, we might have to force ourselves, and our kids, into a lifestyle change. Once we realize what is happening to our brain chemistry, we can take measures to throw more balance into the equation. This is a must for our kids; while, parents are going to have to act fast and firm.
What are some additional examples of problems that are brought on by anhedonia in your family and/or church?