I have never been a “binge watcher,” that is, someone who sits in front of a television set and watches an entire season or more all at once. I do confess to being a “binge reader.”
About 25 years ago, I took an interest in the ancient Church and three expressions of that Church. I began by reading a book on Anglicanism. I had been raised a Methodist, which is only one step removed from the Church of England. That morphed into about 25 books on the subject in rapid succession.
Next, I looked into the Eastern Church, of which I had very little knowledge. That one book on Eastern Orthodoxy led to four full bookshelves and perhaps over a hundred magazines. I did the same with the Roman Catholic Church and read dozens of books written by Roman authors. Now all this took a couple of years or so but I felt that I understood much more than I had before.
I have done the same with novels. Recently, I finished the 50th book in a series, beginning in 1995, featuring the character of Eve Dallas, a detective living in New York about 40 years into the future. Then I re-read every book in the Mitch Rapp series. Rapp, for the uninitiated, is a character created by the late Vince Flynn. He’s basically a CIA assassin. And it’s not just fiction or secular stuff.
I’ve read every book written by Judson Cornwall and Watchman Nee. Cornwall was a major influence in the Charismatic renewal of a few decades ago and Nee was martyred by our friends, the Chinese communists. But television? No thank you. A total waste of time. Until the coronavirus lockdown.
One day I paused flipping through the channels and viewed a trailer for “The Mandalorian,” a series created by Disney based on the Star Wars franchise. Season 1 was available so I watched the first episode. By the end of the next day, I had watched all of the first season. I thought, “This wastes too much time. I can’t do this again.” And I didn’t.
And then I watched the first episode of Season 1 of “The West Wing.” The West Wing first aired in 1999 and, after completing seven seasons, ended its run in 2006. The setting is, of course, the White House and begins the saga of the Bartlett administration. I had forgotten how well written that program was and how much I had enjoyed it 21 years ago. I moved on to Episode 2. Last night I finally went to bed somewhere near the middle of Season 3.
Apparently, I have become a binge-watcher. I blame the coronavirus and Governor Brian Kemp (and, yes, President Donald Trump — and the Chinese communists) for keeping me near my home office much of the time and I blame my wife for not stopping me. She’s a nurse. She has a Ph.D. in nursing! She should be able to recognize an addiction when it begins.
You know what one does when one reads? One drinks coffee or something else. You know what one does when one watches television? One eats. I am surprised I can get out of the garage, much less the door!
My defense is to go back to work. In my real office, not the home office. There are books there but I’ve read them all. There is a television too but it doesn’t get Netflix. And there’s very little junk food around there either.
At the present time I’m worried. I’m worried about what I will watch when I finish Season 7! “The Mandalorian” hasn’t started Season 2 yet. I’ve checked and the next Eve Dallas book, “Shadows in Death” #51, doesn’t come out until September. The 19th Mitch Rapp book, “Total Power,” is also coming out in September. September will be a good month. But it’s five months away!
As the pandemic began, several social behaviorists weighed in and opined that people who struggled with alcohol and drugs might be prone to relapse if they could not get out of the home. But how will they relapse if they stay home? Don’t they have to leave home to get the booze and the drugs?
But Netflix is waiting right there in the other room. Amazon Prime also lurks just waiting to expose another series to draw me in. And now, “Star Trek: Picard,” is available on CBS All Access. I really want to see it but we don’t have CBS All Access. Yet.
I wonder if they have a 12-Step program for binge readers or binge watchers? The kicker is, when we moved into our new house, we didn’t have TV at all for five months. I didn’t miss it even a little bit. And now I see it. That’s when it started. I was just sitting around enjoying the silence when my wife said, “I bet you’d like this book …” I bet that’s what Eve said, too. “Adam, I bet you’d like this fruit.” It all starts so innocently.
[David Epps is the Rector of the Cathedral of Christ the King (www.ctk.life). During the crisis, the church is live streaming at 10:00 a.m. on Sundays at http://www.facebook.com/cctksharpsburg/ He is the bishop of the Diocese of the Mid-South He may contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.]