Despite all of that, we love it. I’m not totally sure why. Some of the rides are fun, though I fear my days of enjoying the fast ones are waning. There are one or two already that I pass on because if I go on them I will ruin my day. Maybe it’s nostalgia, as we have very fond memories of family trips to Disneyland and even Disney World in Florida. I don’t really know for sure what the appeal is, but its appeal in our family is undeniable. We all are just happy at Disney parks, even with all of the downsides.
Clearly there is an awfully high limit to what people, including me, will put up with when it comes to entertaining ourselves. Imagine that we invited people to our church saying, “when you come you’ll need to stand in line for a while, then sit on a really hard sidewalk for an hour, then we’ll let you in the building where you can stand behind a bunch of other people during our fifteen minute service. Oh by the way, you’ll have to buy a really expensive ticket to get in.” Yeah, uh, I’m pretty sure people will be flocking to our services, right?
It seems that at least in our culture we have a nearly insatiable appetite for entertainment. It is estimated that Americans spend $490 billion annually on movies, plays, books, video games, concerts, sporting events, amusement parks and the rest. We adults have something in common with kids. Typically kids opt for what feels good in the moment. They don’t want to eat broccoli, they want ice cream and cake. Our many entertainments are sort of like the ice cream and cake of life. After you’ve consumed them what do you have? Nothing that actually nourishes. You’ve simply had a palate pleasing experience. We enjoyed our trip to Disneyland. It was a pleasant experience that gave us a nice memory. I value that. It is worth something. But in the end it is not what my life is really about.
Why is it that we are so willing to pay so much money and endure such inconvenience just to obtain a few hours of entertainment? We do it a lot. If you go to a major sporting event you will likely endure gnarly traffic, possible annoying parking problems and high cost all for the joy of sitting in an uncomfortable seat surrounded by people who are often loud and somewhat less than considerate. In fact, you have a decent chance of encountering people who are downright boorish.
Something within us tells us that in these entertainments we will find real enjoyment and real life. Why else would we put up with inconvenience and cost that we would never accept when it comes to things that are in reality far more important, like worshiping our Lord and encouraging our brothers and sisters in Christ? In the end that pull we feel is all about serving ourselves, it is about doing what makes us “feel good.” We must never forget that while our enemy and our own fallen hearts tell us that it is in doing what makes us feel momentarily happy we will find life, the truth is that as Jesus said we find life when we deny ourselves and follow him.
Going to Disneyland, a sporting event, a concert, a movie or any other form of entertainment is not wrong. We can and do create wonderful memories that way and can even strengthen our bonds with others as we share those experiences. But we must ever remember they are the dessert, not the nutritious meal our souls need to flourish and be healthy.