Friday, December 14, 2007


Television has come in for a lot of bad press. It is the drug of the nation, the tool for numbing us into mindless obedience to the status quo in the hands of the establishment. It causes obesity, family breakdown and postmodernism.

Or, on the other hand, it is the mechanism through which God speaks to us in the questions, struggles, doubts, hopes, dreams, confessions of the nation. It is the 'common grace donkey' through which we hear God's prophetic voice calling us into dealings with him.

These, and related matters, were discussed in a seminar I had to lead this past Wednesday on media. I chose to focus on television because it is really really popular, and really really easy to have a go at. I wanted to see what, positively and negatively, a Christian worldview could make of television. In the end I got far more questions than answers. Matters for further though/ action/ study include:
  • What is the proper relationship between words and images? I suspect the answer starts to be answered once we engage with the specifics of the relationship between God's general revelation and his special revelation, between the two halves of Psalm 19.
  • Relatedly, since God gave us a book not a video, are text-based cultures the bees knees? Are they better than image-based ones? Better than oral cultures? Are they the only sort of culture the gospel produces?
  • Relatedly again, should we be seeking to go backwards (to text) or forwards (from image). What would moving on from the negatives of a very visual culture mean?
  • How do we evangelise and disciple post-literates and illiterates? And people with very different learning styles?
  • How do we help people engage critically and christianly with television? How do we help them 'tame' it and use it with moderation?
  • How do we disciple those Christians already working within the media world and encourage them to have a transformative, provocative, positive Christian presence and witness in that sphere?
Answers on a postcard to the usual address please.

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