Posts Tagged ‘Iceland Public Television’

imageConsider the Lilies

If the thought of twenty-four hours of non-stop lambing intrigues you, then Icelandic public television has the channel for you.  I first read about this in a short snippet from The Week, and my initial reaction was amused skepticism.  Who in their right mind would sit there for an entire day watching sheep give birth to the cutest little creatures on God’s green earth?  Surely this story had to be a joke, and so I went to the internet for confirmation.  To my surprise, there it was, not only on the BBC News, but on other respected sites as well.  Sure enough, it was true; except that the bit about the sheep-birthing marathon was only the tip of the iceberg.

imageFirst of all, it turned out that this program was not an isolated one-off.  Apparently it’s only the latest example of a phenomenon called slow TV that has gained popularity in northern Europe, and Norwegian public television seems to be in the vanguard of the movement.  There stations have tested the limits of the modern attention span, with shows that have featured twelve hours of wood-burning and four hours of knitting.  There’s also the program that showed eighteen hours of salmon swimming upstream, sixty hours of Psalm-singing, and one hundred hours of non-stop chess.  And for those left pining for an even greater challenge, there were one hundred-thirty hours of a cruise ship sailing up and down the fjords of Norway.  It all leaves me wondering what’s next.  What are the limits of human endurance?

It would be so easy to make light of all this and conclude that there’s really nothing else going on in Scandinavia anyway.  We could even pity them because they don’t have enough shootings or scandals or political hot air to sustain even one decent cable news channel, much less the dozen or more that we enjoy.  No wonder they are reduced to filling the airwaves with such tedium, we might conclude.  But we’d be wrong to do so.

imageIn point of fact, slow TV is a critique of the sometimes shallow character of our information age.  For all the data that we have at our fingertips, it’s tough not to be overwhelmed.  Worse still, it’s often difficult to sort out fact from fiction in the avalanche of information that besieges us every day and hour and minute.  Ironically, the newscasters may tell us that we know more than any generation that has gone before, but in point of fact we are likely less-informed about life than any of our forebears.

I’ve not viewed a single example of slow TV, but it strikes me that it is a variation of the warning to stop and smell the roses.  It’s perhaps a reminder that we should never let events and the currents of the world drive us like lemmings over the cliff.  It may also be a caution about letting others dictate to us the standards by which we live our lives.  In blunt terms, it may very well be an invitation to get a grip on ourselves and figure out what we’re doing to ourselves — or allowing others to do to us.

imageThere’s resonance for all of this in the scriptures, and at the root of it is the invitation to be thoughtful and proactive in shaping the course of our lives.   When Jesus invited people to consider the lilies of the field, he certainly didn’t just mean for us to do so from an aesthetic point of view.  The array of lilies, so beautiful and yet seemingly unimportant, is a reminder of the care of God for each and every person.  Each lily has meaning, just as does each person.  And yet it’s so easy to forget about all that in the rush of activity and the flood of words that threaten to engulf us all.

There’s lots more to say about all this, but for the moment I’m struck by the invitation that Jesus puts to us to behold the sparrows, and to survey the plants of the field.  Given that perspective, Jesus is just the sort of guy who would ask us to consider watching a bit of slow TV as well.  And with that in mind, if I had to choose between ten hours of sheep-sheering and ten hours of mayhem on our freeways, I now realize that this is no choice at all.  I’d have to be crazy to choose the mayhem.


+On June 29th alumnus Brandon Dorsey spoke to the monks about his experience as a Benedictine Volunteer during the past year at Benedictine abbeys in India and Sri Lanka.  Brandon grew up in Pasadena, CA, and he graduated in 2014.

+On the 4th of July the monks gathered for festivities and a cook-out in the monastic garden.

+The gardens around the campus at Saint John’s continue to flourish, as the photos in today’s post attest.  Given all the work that the crew puts into the flowers and trees and shrubs, the least we can do is to stop and enjoy them for a moment — or even longer.

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