Well, Jean and I have almost completely given up something that we have done habitually for most of our lives. Now wait just a minute before you let your imaginations go crazy and conjure up all kind of wild notions. It’s nothing like some of the things some of you may be thinking. We didn’t have some crazed addiction that we’ve managed to kick. This wasn’t a vow, a pledge, or something we gave up for Lent. This wasn’t even something we had planned to do, but honestly, it just kind of happened without our actually thinking too much about what we had done. We have almost stopped watching television. Whereas the one-eyed monster used to stay turned on practically any time we were home, whether we actually watched it or not, it now sets silently more often than not. Now having said that, I do realize that the college-football season is only a couple of weeks away and things will change. That’s why I decided to write this piece now, instead of then, because I have no doubt, we will watch much more then…at least on Saturdays.

I grew up with television, but things are much different now. Like many of you, I grew up with three channels and all three came to us free of charge. We received them via an outside antenna. If we twisted the antenna, sometimes we could get an extra channel, or actually see the others. Now I have more clear channels than Carters has little liver pills, as they used to say. I’m not sure exactly how many pills Carters had, or how many channels I have, but either is a lot. I do know exactly how much it cost me each month. It’s about the same as I paid for my ’69 Malibu…plus my undergrad degree! When I opened my cable bill last week, I wasn’t sure if I was buying the cable company or one of the networks.

Seriously, I got my bill last week and it had increased by $25 over the previous month. These days I’m paying more to get all those channels that I don’t watch, than I pay for almost any of my other utilities. All that money, and all those channels, and I can’t find a thing that I want to watch! I’m reminded of what Coleridge said in “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” He wrote, “Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink.” I say, “Channels, channels, everywhere, nor any program to watch.”

In my personal opinion, I grew up in the glory days of television programing. I remember thinking that The Beaver and Opie were part of our family. I would be embarrassed to belong to many of the television families on now. Some modern critics say that programs back then were hokey and unrealistic. I guess that is why they created all those reality shows. Reality…really? Maybe I’m not looking for reality, if that’s reality, when I sit to watch television. Maybe I need some time to forget reality. Maybe I’m looking for fiction, perhaps even fantasy, or a good true story, with no agenda attached.

I’ve got an idea. Maybe we could spend more time visiting with one another and talking. Maybe we could spend more time listening to music, or maybe even learning to play an instrument, or sing and make our own music. Maybe we could discover the dying art of reading again. There are numerous good books, old and new, that are readily available. The best one of them all is one we simply call “The Good Book.”

— Bill King is a native of Rainsville, where he and his wife graduated from Plainview High School. King is a director of missions in Opelika, a writer, musician and author. His column appears in the Times-Journal Tuesday edition. Visit brobillybob.com for more information.

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