The Role of Media in a Christian Life - Part 1
By Reverend Chris Henderson
Media is everywhere. We are saturated with it.
So how does a Christian deal with all of the nonsense pushed into our lives? Over the next few posts, we will look at definitions of media, and what the leading minds in technology are saying. We will try and search out principled solutions for media consumption, and then end up with practical applications of those solutions.
Convergence happens when two previously separate technologies merge creating a ‘new’ technology.
Think with me if you will. The time is 1997. You just step off the bus from school and want to call your boyfriend or girlfriend. To accomplish this simple task, you would have to pick up a handset connected to the wall with a wire. After all, you have not seen or been able to communicate with them since 4th period. Fast-forward to 2017 and enter stage right, ‘convergence.' The note you passed in class from 1997 is replaced with the text message. The phone call is still a phone call yet has video attached and none of them are usually connected to the wall with a wire (unless you're charging. These are all examples of convergence but what does it mean for young Christians today?
In his 2013 article for The Atlantic entitled, Listening to Young Atheists: Lessons for a Stronger Christianity, Larry Alex Taunton surveys colleges atheists to pinpoint where young Christians lost faith. When Mr. Taunton asked students to cite effective people, books or seminars in conversion he found “vague references to videos they had watched on YouTube or website forums.”
Media shapes faith. That is what convergence means for young Christians. You no longer have to read a lengthy dissertation on pantheism, you can just watch a youtube video.
What we consume shapes who we become.
Nicholas Negroponte, a co-founder of WIRED magazine, and a co-founder of MIT Media Labs delivered a 2014 TEDTalk, “A 30 Year History of the Future”. In this talk, he makes a passing statement that in the future, Internet access would be considered a human right.
Absurd, right? Consider this.
In 1995 Mr. Negroponte stated that we would soon buy books and newspapers over the internet, that statement caused people to laugh too. What this means for the future of the Christian is critical because we already face an over-saturation of media consumption in churches today.
If every person has the right to internet access as Mr. Negropante suggests then we must look at what John Suler has to say as well, he is the author of The Psychology of Cyberspace. There he states that “You wouldn’t take your children and leave them alone in the middle of New York City, and that’s effectively what you’re doing when you allow them to go into cyberspace alone.” If Mr. Negroponte's statement comes to fruition, and Mr. Suler’s remarks are, in fact, true, then we have the potential for disaster in our lives over the next ten years.
With these two conflicting statements in mind, I offer that as Christians the role of media should be carefully guarded. I am not suggesting that we totally disconnect from the Internet, on the contrary, I am proposing that Christians defend their hearts, minds, and homes against the pervasive infiltration of media into their lives. I am suggesting that we take an inventory of time spent, the energy that given, and money invested to what seems to be a gift to connectivity. That is what we will unpack in our next few posts.