India recently celebrated Diwali, a holiday which marks “the homecoming of the Hindu god, Lord Ram, from exile.” In the past, it was celebrated by illuminating clay lamps. These days, it is a massive fireworks show, approximately 50,000 tons. Now that’s a show!
But there’s a problem. Delhi’s air quality is poor. A study found that “half of the city’s 4.4 million schoolchildren have diminished lung capacity.” And fireworks exacerbate the problem. In fact, last year’s show caused so much smoke that a “toxic haze blanketed the city” for a week. Many citizens suffered health issues.
So India’s Supreme Court stepped in. They banned the sale of fireworks in Delhi. Of course, the ban went over with a hiss, crack, and boom among local merchants. Nevertheless, people find a way, and enough fireworks went off that it took over 3 days to return to pre-Diwali air conditions!
When asked about the decision to ban the sale of fireworks, one merchant said, “what do we tell the kids on Diwali: ‘Go pray, eat your food and go to bed? How will they enjoy that?” Another said, “If there are no crackers, then Diwali doesn’t mean anything – only lights and sweets. It’s too boring!”
Doesn’t mean anything? Even though fireworks are a modern addition, many said they might as well not celebrate Diwali without them. It would be too boring.
I love a good fireworks show. But we can learn a lesson from the Hindu dilemma. More harm than good is often done when invoking the plea, “it is for the children!” The fireworks in Delhi add to pollution that is literally killing the children.
Has the church fallen victim to the same irony? In a rush to entertain, do we create apathy toward true, yet simple, worship? If we remove modern entertainment, is it “too boring” to worship God? Is, “for the children,” harming the children in the church?
I do enjoy a good fireworks show. But there’s a time for entertainment, and there’s a time for the pure milk of the word. May we use wisdom to discern the two.