Trivia Nights are a well-known way of doing fund-raising. Here in Toowoomba several churches have run Trivia Nights to raise funds for school chaplaincy programs. Trivial Pursuit is a board game that many of us are familiar with. Trivia is what is unimportant; it’s what doesn’t carry much weight. Trivia is what we find easy to dismiss.
That word, trivia, came to mind when we recently had some days away at the coast in Yamba and I ended up watching a little more television that I normally do. Well, if truth be told, I rarely watch television at all. For me television is ‘junk food for the mind’ – well most of it anyway. I occasionally watch Sunday Hymns of Praise on the ABC and sometimes watch Landline afterwards – perhaps one Sunday a month. But with some days in a holiday cottage and long winter evenings, the television gained a little more attention than usual.
What particularly struck me is how trivial so much of it is. Reality shows that aren’t really reality shows are all the rage – why call them reality shows when they are so contrived. Having several teams of people compete against each other to see who can do the best job of renovating a building is hardly ‘reality’. Ditto for teams of cooks competing to provide the best meal! I was somewhat surprised that sit-coms with ‘canned laughter’ are still around after all these years. On one occasion the kids were watching a kids program that had something to do with setting a world record for spaghetti eating – run with all the fanfare of an Olympic competition. As I was saying: Trivia is what doesn’t carry much weight.
It set me wondering: Does the Lord minds trivia…? Should Christians be involved in trivia…?
Okay, confession time. I do indulge in trivia. Every week I do a couple of Sudoku puzzles in the local newspaper. I have a game on my iPad that I probably spend a little too much time playing. And then there’s Facebook – that oh-so-important social media that often seems to specialise in trivia. Strange, I can justify those things to myself. Sudoku is exercise for the grey-matter between my ears. So is my iPad game. It helps to keep the neurones in the brain stay sharp and focused. And Facebook is a way I can stay in touch with family and friends and even provide a Christian witness in cyberspace.
Does the Lord mind trivia? I don’t know. I do know that He calls me to “redeem the time because the days are evil” (Eph.5:16). And that’s just the point: Is trivia a good way to use up those precious and valuable hours of which each of us have only a limited supply?
If we’re good stewards of our bodies and our time then some recreation is wise. It enables us to return to our work with new enthusiasm and often with a sharper focus. Again, a confession: I’ve sometimes found that in the middle of an intense period of preparation of a sermon and after hours of study and writing, a quick game of spider solitaire on the computer can bring me back fresh to my work of sermon preparation. But I guess that’s where we need a goodly dose of that ‘fruit of the Spirit’ that is called self-control… because one game can easily become two and two easily becomes three.
Perhaps a good reality check for all of us is to ask whether we are spending more time with these trivialities than with the all-important spiritual disciples of Bible reading and prayer. There is something wrong if we can find hours to watch some of the unimportant stuff on television but can’t make the time to visit the sick and the lonely. Maybe today that could give us a whole new perspective on Jesus’ parable about some things that are not trivial – in the story of the separation of the sheep and the goats. Some were sent away from the Lord’s presence because “I was hungry and you didn’t feed me… I was a stranger and you didn’t invite me in… sick and in prison and you didn’t visit me.” Could it be some of us just don’t have time for those things because television and Facebook, computer games and sport keep us from serving the Lord as we should?
I’m comfortable with just a little trivia in my life – but I’m wary about the trivia crowding out the important.