I was watching TV last night and, since the show was pretty dull, my mind began to wander. I got to thinking about the TV itself, a 32 inch flat screen. When we bought the set a few years ago it was considered pretty large. We were just coming out of the era of those old analog TVs so the biggest set anyone had was usually about 25 inches and 32 inches seemed pretty amazing.
But times have changed. For one, the prices of these sets have dropped. We looked at flat screens when they first came out and a 32 inch flat screen was over $1,000. When we bought ours we thought $550 was a pretty good price. You can get one now for under $200. Heck, some places are even throwing in one for free if you buy a recliner.
The other big change is size. If you tell someone you have a 32 inch TV you will probably be looked at with either pity, like you can’t afford a real TV, or amazement, like they can’t believe you are still in the dark ages. 60 inch sets are common and 70 or 80 are readily available. I know someone who has an 80 inch set in his family room which is not much bigger than mine. Watching TV with him is like watching that old-time TV show The Land of the Giants.
The strangest thing about TVs however is that, whatever their size, you will always see in the fine print of the ad that they are “measured diagonally.” Do you know anything else that is measured diagonally? Me neither. I did a little research and found that I am 6’7” measured diagonally. I calculated that using the equation from my high school geometry that “the square of the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares of remaining two sides.” To my knowledge that is the first time since high school that equation has ever been useful. I think it is also the first time I have ever written the word hypotenuse.
In any event, being 6’7”, measured diagonally, may have some use. I am thinking of saying that at my next physical when my doctor asks. In that way I think I can tell him I am a perfect weight for my height. I’m not sure he will agree but it’s worth a shot.
So why do the TV makers give us the diagonal measurement? The answer is obvious, they want to make us think it is bigger, and therefore better, than it actually is. I actually think that is a pretty common human trait. I know most of us want people to think we are better folks than we know ourselves to actually be. We can go to great lengths to cover or disguise our weaknesses and defects.
Oddly enough, Christians are among the best at hiding weakness. Theologically we know we are all sinners but we all know deep in our hearts that if we stand up and say at church that we are struggling with temptation or sin that things will not go well for us. We know we are sinners in the abstract but if someone admits it in a real situation church is a pretty uncomfortable place to be.
So I ask myself, do I have the courage to stop measuring myself diagonally? If someone else does, do I show him the grace that he needs?