Dumpster diving and entertainment


In my job as a teacher, I have fairly literate colleagues, and our discussions often are about literature, music, and film. For a good while I was watching a lot of artistic, critically acclaimed movies based on recommendations of these people and my own reading in magazines like Rolling Stone, Sound & Vision, and other periodicals. Some of these films were a bit raunchy, but I figured it was no big deal because I was a mature, married, churchgoing adult and could handle whatever was on the screen and in the dialogue.

Then I saw a well-made film that won Oscars and told the story of a prostitute and an alcoholic who found each other and fell in love, or lust, or had something like a relationship. Images from that particular movie burned into my brain, and my mind was utterly defiled. I felt alternately horny, sullied, depressed, and, finally, acutely convicted by the Holy Spirit.

After this incident, it occurred to me that I was a lot like a former street person who used to live in a house with me and some other Christian guys. One day I was driving through the Georgetown area of Washington, DC, and this formerly homeless man was riding along. He was pointing out one restaurant after another and telling me about specific delicious dishes that each prepared: filet mignon, lobster tail, seafood Newburg, and some exotic cuisine I had never even tasted myself.

“How do you know so much about all these places?” I asked him. “It’s not like you were a food critic before you moved in with us.”

“Dumpster diving,” he said and went on to explain how he used to climb inside the trash bins behind restaurants and look for food. He explained the subtle nuances of picking through what other people had left on their plates or what had been tossed out during the food preparations. Cream sauces and shellfish were to be avoided, especially on hot days, but he assured me that a person who didn’t mind crawling through garbage could find good things to eat.

It’s a lot like that with books, music, films, television, and whatever else we might consider to be art or entertainment. There may be a lot of good stuff out there, but do we really want to run the risk of getting ourselves sick on all the trash that goes along with it?