I despise spoilers.

Because of that, if I have the good fortune to read an advance copy of a book or view an advance screening copy of a movie, I keep my mouth shut. For the same reason I rarely if ever comment on last night’s or last week’s show, and I’ve had to learn to avert my eyes from Twitter and Facebook references to shows I enjoy the mornings after they air.

One of the disadvantages of living outside the United States and in a developing nation — one of the world’s very poorest — is that I was never up-to-the-minute when it comes to popular culture. I had to wait for shows and movies to come out on DVD and then for some kind soul to snail-mail said DVDs.

(Yes, I do know that there is a Internet underbelly via which I might stay up-to-date on All Things Entertainment, Lord willin’ and the Internet don’t crap out, but on behalf of all artists, writers, musicians, and copyright holders everywhere, may I just say: PLEASE DON’T, piracy is not a victimless crime, etc.)

Helix pomatia. Photo courtesy Jürgen Schoner via Wikimedia Commons.

Helix pomatia. Photo courtesy Jürgen Schoner via Wikimedia Commons.

And yet, I believe there’s a distinct advantage to slow media consumption.

  1. It forced me to carefully choose the few from the many. In Malawi, I couldn’t just stream whatever, whenever. So rather than vegging in front of whatever’s available, when I was watching something, it more likely than not took conscious and concerted effort to be able to do so.
  2. Because I ended up waiting weeks between entertainment ‘fixes,’ consuming media ‘slowly’ I often watched and re-watched, mused, chewed, and digested before moving on to the next thing.
  3. Similar to the practice of lectio divina, consuming media more slowly moves it from pure ‘consumption’ to something else…something like a meeting of souls, or an exercise in compassionate listening, or…

I propose a little thought experiment: think of the books, music, and movies that have meant most to you. Are they the ones that you have read, heard, and watched once, while doing the ironing or filling out boring paperwork?

Or are they the ones that draw all of you in, each time, and repeatedly, so that you linger over them, and they remain in your mind for days after?

This is something like the ‘experiment’ C.S. Lewis proposed in An Experiment in Criticism: what sorts of media invite, welcome, and reward sustained attention and interest?

And now I’m curious: what media have captured your attention in a richer, spirit-sustaining way? Do you find yourself practicing a sort of lectio divina with non-religious resources? What such resources have most nourished your spirit?

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