Word of the Week: Omniscience

Can you redeem the time lost in watching Casey Anthony trial?

People are getting wound up over the verdict today of the trial of mom Casey Anthony of the death of her daughter Caylee. The verdict was not guilty. The web lit up, Facebook lit up, Twitter lit up. People are at turns outraged, aghast, angry, sorrowful.... I'm not. I'm not anything.

I didn't watch the trial. I didn't even know it was going on. I had to look up the names Caylee and Casey to correctly make this blog entry. I am sad that a little girl was killed and there seems to be no earthly justice on her killer. That is bad. I am sad that children are neglected, abused, murdered in the US and all over the world. This week it was reported that a father raped his 6-month-old baby son and gave him HIV. His case goes to the Grand Jury on July 11. I could recount many headlines like that one, which I won't because they're awful and gross, but children are murdered every day and their case is sometimes satisfied by justice and sometimes it is not.

I didn't watch the OJ trial either. Now, people are saying things like "There goes the justice system!" Well, after OJ was pronounced not guilty there went the justice system, people said. How about the President of the United States Bill Clinton, lying within a legal proceeding and obstructing justice? In my opinion, that did much to damage the justice system.

The fact is, there are big trials all the time. There is "huge news" all the time. Each verdict seems to impact and damage the justice system irreparably, and maybe that is so- for a time.

I have a book called "Forgotten News: The Crime of the Century, and Other Forgotten Stories" by Jack Finney, author of "Time and Again. It is a book of news that was reported, tracked, trials, and intrigue and murder and justice. In the biggest case in the book, a trial of the killer of NY dentist Harvey Burdell in the mid 1800s was explained. It was said to the the most celebrated crime of the century. The NY Times discussed it here in 2007 when a book about the forgotten crime was released. Do you remember the case now? It was the crime of the century.

The other case Finney relates is the sinking of the SS Central America off the coast of Florida in i857. At the time of her sinking, the Central America carried gold then valued at approximately $2 million USD. 300 crew and passengers died, and the loss of the gold was a tremendous loss to investors and the stock market. The loss of the gold shook public confidence in the economy, and contributed to the Panic of 1857. The book "Ship of Gold, In The Deep Blue Sea", by Gary Kinder is a compelling and un-put-downable book about the ship's sinking and the aftermath, and of the modern day treasure hunt to find all that gold.

The point is, at the time, people thought the news of the events, either the murder or the ship's loss, would be remembered forever. Each in their way they impacted the culture at the time but it really was a short time until the news was forgotten.

I'm not diminishing the emotions attached to the Casey Anthony trial, but really, as a Christian, it is emblematic to me of the misuse of time we spend. We squander our time in all sorts of ways. It is obvious that the legal system is set up by man and therefore is flawed. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. All things set up by man are flawed because man is flawed. Why rail over it?

The only thing that is not flawed is Jesus. We are put on this earth to glorify Him by making disciples. Witnessing to fallen humanity is or should be the motivation for everything we do. Sitting hunched in front of a television watching a pointless trial does not uplift His name.

Ephesians 5:16 says we should be "making the most of your time, because the days are evil." In John MacArthur's commentary today "Redeeming the time" he expounded on that verse, saying, "God has set boundaries to our lives, and our opportunity for service exists only within those boundaries. It is significant that the Bible speaks of such times being shortened, but never of their being lengthened. A person may die or lose an opportunity before the end of God’s time, but he has no reason to expect his life or his opportunity to continue after the end of his predetermined time. ... Paul pleads for us to make the most of our time immediately after he pleads for us to walk wisely rather than foolishly. Outside of purposeful disobedience of God’s Word, the most spiritually foolish thing a Christian can do is to waste time and opportunity, to fritter away his life in trivia and in half–hearted service of the Lord.

How much time did you waste watching the trial? How much time are you wasting talking about it, stewing about it, watching or reading follow-up on it? Today's news will be forgotten news, but Jesus is forever.

Comments

  1. As for me, I also did not watch the trial. I did see the verdict today though. While I have no idea if the jury got this one correct or not, we all will stand before God one day and His judgement will be correct. We will not be able to hide one thing from Him or have any ground to agrue our case. Our only hope in in Jesus. Has our sins been cleaned by the blood of Jesus or not?

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  2. I think I may have read one or two articles about this trial, or rather about the finding finally of the body of the little girl. I was not interested in the trial, nor was I interested in the OJ trial, just as you were not.

    I think it's important to remember, though, that some people would think the very same thoughts about your interest in the Lonesome Dove series. "Why in the world would you want to spend your precious time on *that*! There are so many other more worthwhile things to read or do! How is reading/watching that 'redeeming the time'?" Since I also am a reader, and read many different kinds of books, I would be more in sympathy with you and Lonesome Dove than anyone interested in watching a murder trial.

    Although I didn't care for the trial, a certain friend of mine did. Sometime during the day she would watch the highlights of the trial via internet. I actually was pleased that she did this for several reasons. She is driven by an inner compulsion to work, work, work - to never stop working. Even reading a book is difficult for her because she berates herself mentally that she should be DOING something, especially she should be doing something for someone else. This was an unusual thing for her, to become interested in something that was happening and take the actual time to really, truly watch it (she sleeps through most movies and sometimes has been known to fall asleep during meetings).

    People think I waste my time cross-stitching, weaving or doing other things with my hands. They do not realize I am also praying much of the time I "just sit there".

    So, there is a balance. What would be pure laziness for my friend is not at all for me. What God has given me for leisure, rest and relaxation is not for other people - mostly reading and walking. And Lonesome Dove, well if I could have gotten past all the snakes in the river on the guys face in the movie series, maybe I would have enjoyed reading those books, too! :)

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  3. Anonynous, great comment. I think I was having a holier than thou moment there. Thank you!

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  4. I didn't follow the trial religiously, not a bit. I am interested in true crime, and I find myself praying often for those involved. That was the case here. My heart breaks as a parent, and that's where my interest in this grew from, I think. I didn't watch the trial. Only highlights on the news, but when the story first broke, I read all the evidence I could find. But that was a few years ago. I have my opinion as to the result, but it hasn't stopped my life utterly, nor consumed me.

    I agree with Anonymous about the balance. It's really about what you let consume you, and whether or not it becomes an idol. And it's different for each person when something isn't inherently sinful on its own. Attitudes matter.

    I agree also with Ken, because true judgement, no matter what it should be, will come from the Lord. I pray that Casey comes to Christ before then, guilty of this particular sin or not. Surely, she is just like me-- a sinner. And she needs Jesus as much as the rest of us.

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  5. I've thought about what I was trying to say some more. I guess the point is, that all of us 'lose' some time that could be spent for Jesus. But taking it to its extreme, none of can spend 100% of time in His will, and if we could, then we'd have to say we spend 100% of our thoughts in His pursuits, and if we could do that, then wed have to say our motives from the heart were 100% pure. But only Jesus can say that. So to an extent all of us are guilty.

    It is not a matter of what we do in our off times, but rather what we choose to do intentionally. If someone is watching the trial, or reading books, or knitting, to the *exclusion* of Godly pursuits, then that is time not redeemed. I choose to read but I limit it to between half-hour to an hour before bed. My intention is to structure the day so that most of it spent in ministry, prayer, or study. But what if got a-hold of a really absorbing series and I stopped praying, studying, and ministering as much?

    An example: I discovered The Fuel Project series this summer (it's about The Enemy, from scripture). It has 77 6-9 minute parts, I watched it all the way thru in 2 entire days. I do not consider the time lost. But I also discovered The Big Bang Theory comedy show and I watched clips on Youtube. Without realizing how much time I was spending hunting for clips and then watching them, I realized after a few days that I was spending un-redeemable hours. So I stopped. I limit myself to 20 minutes at a time now, usually at lunch break. It is all about strongholds, intention, and mindfulness of the time.

    We all know that Satan loves to gain a stronghold in us, and celebrity trials are a great way to chew up time. I know of people (family included) that spend hours upon hours and days upon days watching. Or doing some other pursuit that when they look back, say, 'Gee, where did the time go?"

    Redeeming the time means time squandered mindlessly that satan exploits to his advantage, is what I was trying to get across.

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  6. You are quite right about that unredeemable time. My problem in the past has been video games. I love them. Not the violent ones, or even any where there's a specific quest-- the kinds like the Sims where you can just get lost in a second world. That was a stronghold for me in the past, and thankfully, I came to terms with that a couple years ago. Time for that kind of thing is now limited.

    I definitely see where you were going with your thoughts in this post! :)

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  7. I also understand your point and agree with it in general. Different personalities are going to respond differently to things like this, whether it's video games, watching tv (any kind too much), reading or doing crafts. The friend I mentioned above who did watch highlights of the trial - the reason I was glad she did is because "redeeming the time" has become an idol for her in the past. I know that sounds strange, but when a person schedules 5 minute time periods throughout the day and then feels a failure when they cannot do all they've scheduled, time management has become an idol. It was good to see her become interested in something like that, and she did watch portions, not the whole thing.

    Time for me is very different. I can begin something and realize that a whole day has gone by and I have not even eaten. Artists of many kinds can do this. It's not a waste of time, per se, but the way God made me - with an ability to focus on something so intently that I am often not aware of passing time. This is not "bad", just different from a person who carefully schedules their day.

    I like the fact that God has made so many different personality types. How boring our world would be if we were all the same - just like how boring the world would be if all the flowers were red and all the trees only elms. God knew, before the foundation of the world, that we needed each other. It also makes me just that much more aware of how little we really understand God, the only One who could create such diversity!

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  8. I remember when I was in Bible school, we spent a lot of time watching movies, listening to music, basically just studying about human nature. It helped me a lot in my ministry because I was able to relate to people in a more personal level. This is real life tragedy here. And it has deep resonance to what we we're seeing in the world today. It shows us how messed up this world is and it breaks my heart to witness how adults can do such horrible things to a child. It seems like it happens more frequently now than in the past. This is the most heart breaking reality that we're face today. I guess it doesn't hurt if we watch a little bit of it. It's not really that much different from observing the other signs of our Lord's imminent coming.

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  9. I think these issues revolve essentially around our obedience to Christ's purpose for us at any given moment. I don't have a TV, never been on Facebook and am not a big Internet surfer so I could easily convince myself that I am free of guilt in the area of misuse of my time. My own little "holier than thou" routine! ;-) And celebrity trials don't even cross my radar because I am a home-school mom just trying to keep all the balls in the air. But the enemy still finds ways to distract me from what I am called to today, at this moment in time. Not everything that has eternal value, or lacks such value for that matter, fits into neat little categories.

    For instance, a few years back I began really looking into Bible prophecy and began researching on the Internet every night for hours. I had to wait until late at night when my family was in bed. I would read and research for two or three hours and end up going to bed in the early hours of the morning. This went on for months and months. It began to affect my health and I started to show signs of adrenal fatigue from lack of sleep. Still I kept it up. My motives, I'm convinced were basically right. The outcome however was not good due to lack of balance and submission to God's purpose. My husband asked me to keep things in balance and I slowed down a bit, but not really. I was totally focused on learning everything I could as fast as I could. It was an addiction. For a short time it was good and profitable for what God was doing in my life, but it became a snare. Even such a good thing can be out of balance. I allowed it to distract me from my "in the moment" calling many times and lost opportunities to do greater good.

    This weekend I spent literally a whole day entertaining a family who are struggling and needy. I simply listened for hours to the trials and heartbreaks and challenges the mother is facing. Sometimes it all seemed so redundant and exhausting. At the end of the day, my type A personality convinced me I'd wasted my time and all I could think of was the things I could have been doing for eternity. But now I'm not so sure. It seems the blessings she received from simply being heard have encouraged and strengthened her in ways I could never have guessed. I think my time was being used for His purposes that day, even though it seemed pointless to me.

    I guess this is all just to point out that God's thoughts are not ours and hours spent talking to a friend can be smack dab in the center of God's will while hours and hours spent studying Bible prophecy might be outside of it.

    Do celebrity trials seem like a waste of time to me? Yup. Can't relate to that particular addiction and have to agree with Elizabeth on that. But the real question is. . . have I submitted completely to my Lord's full control over how I use each moment He's given me? Am I willing to flex with His plan and submit to His purpose? I'm working on it.

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