the questions, observations, laments, psalms, classic anecdotes, prayers, & stories of jeremiah aja. enjoy it like a sweaty plastic cup filled with strawberry lemonade & crushed ice.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

beyond "good" or "evil"

These past couple weeks I've been enjoying Shane Hippps' The Hidden Power of Electronic Culture. With the precision of a brain surgeon he dissects the use of media within all of life, especially the Church. He has this to say about media-
"[Media has] dynamic forces with power to shape us, regardless of their content. Such and approach invites us to ask different questions, and moves us beyond the oversimplified but common belief that media forms can be deemed good or bad based on how they are used. This perspective is deeply entrenched in the assumption that a medium can be considered "redeemable" if it dispenses the gospel or educational information, but "evil" if it distributes sex and violence. It is imperative we move beyond this paradigm and realize that our forms of media and technology are primary forces that cause changes in our philosophy, theology, culture, and ultimately the way we do church."

Chew on that today. It's the medium that shapes us, perhaps even more than the material it is sending.

from wilmore, with Love.


Michael said...

I'm working on a blog post similar to this thought I think, but I don't quite get it. Example?

jeremiah said...

the guitar- good if it plays shout to the lord, but bad if it plays welcome to the jungle.

flat panel tvs on stage in sanctuary- good if it shows powerpoint sermon slides and iworship vids, but bad if it shows the matrix on a staff hangout or something.

hipps does a much better job at explaining how just watching television alone reduces our capacity for abstract thought, makes us prefer intuition and experience over logic and reasoning...and it is doesnt matter the content on the television- its the medium that has the power to do that.
he goes way in depth on marshall mcluhan's prophetic statement (in the 60s!) "the medium IS the message"
it flies in the face of the saying we have said and heard so many times- "the methods always change, but our message never changes."
its really great stuff- check hipps out bro.

Michael said...

Interesting thoughts.

Chris said...

I dunno man, I've been meaning to grab this book.


I agree on the one hand that the medium impacts the way we perceive the message and thus is something of which we must be aware, but it's also a phenomenon that I suspect changes from culture to culture. You can't present the gospel to a Nigerian in the same medium that you use for an American.

I guess my question is whether or not we basically give up everything that might "shape" us improperly, as what you've said so far sort of implies. We do have to be aware of its influence upon us, but being aware of it already gives us an advantage and the ability to free ourselves, to a certain extent, from that influence. Being aware of the microscope between me and the amoeba changes how I perceive the amoeba.

I mean, you could just state the principle and say that EVERYTHING impacts everything else! The Gospel was delivered in cultural skin, it wasn't delivered free of it; but this also means that it's morphable, can change in presentation style as it moves from culture to culture, and still remain the Gospel. Presenting it on a TV that makes us "prefer intuition over logic and reason" is only a problem if we think that logic and reason are the only way to make decisions ... and that's a cultural preference, not an absolute standard of scripture.

jeremiah said...

@chris- allow me to explain a littler further then my brotha...
hipps is definitely not "blowing the whistle" on technology and calling it evil because it impacts us. that card has already been overplayed, right?
he walks through a process as we look at all types of media, as you said quite well, to make us aware of our influence on us.
it is also borrowed from marshall mcluhan - the laws of media:
basically, you ask 4 questions in order to discern the impact of media upon a culture and to detect the shifts that new media are able to create--->
what does the medium extend?
what does the medium make obselete?
what does the medium reverse into?
what does the medium retrieve?

lets take this in response to surveillance cameras-
extends the capacity of the human eye, enhances feeling of security
makes neighborhood watch groups obselete
when pushed to the extreme, these cams reverse into an invasive loss of privacy
retrieves the medieval city wall- protection but also imprisonment

Everything does impact everything else, I'm guessing Newton had something to say about that.
One of the main points he goes for in the follow-up book "Flickering Pixels: How Technology Shapes Your Faith" is that the best medium to communicate the Gospel is...get ready for it...YOU. God sent the embodiment, the Gospel, the Kingdom, grace, truth, and His very self in- a person, a human, just like us. If you are able to give these books a read I think you'll see that there is quite a bit you and Hipps would agree on.
ps- how are those beautiful girls of yours btw? where you guys living these days?