Monday, December 17, 2007

Towards the redemption of television

Still not sure I know the answer to the question I posed in the previous post. But the points below seem like good things to be getting on with, some more long term than others, some more specific than others.

These points are part-stolen, part-adapted from Schultze's "Redeeming Television."

1. Christians should be discriminating viewers of TV.
Rather than start by blaming the television industry or some other institution, Schultze suggests getting our own TV habits in order first. Christians must be discerning, and Christian parents in particular must teach and train their families to make careful, considered viewing choices. Discernment means finding the good to enjoy. Discernment means balancing television appropriately with all the priorities and tasks we have in life.

2. Christians should push for televisual literacy in education.
The medium we choose shapes the message. Communication methods encourage certain patterns of thought, certain ways of learning, certain kinds of worldview. Television is biased in a certain way, just as print is. Television, as it currently stands, tends towards fragmentation/ incoherence, the valuing of entertainment as the way to communicate anything, and a bunch of other things. People more aware of these tendencies are in a better position to interpret these inherent (whether intended or accidental) messages.

3. Christians should be active in TV protest.

Whether writing in to the BBC, or filling in the market researcher’s form, or signing the appropriate petition, Christians should make known their views on television as it currently stands. These views, of course, should come from analysis of television from the perspective of a biblical worldview. It might be that some Christians should voice their ‘protest’ by exercising their consumer choice in not buying a TV license.

4. Christians should work to redeem television’s institutions.

TV belongs to God. The technology, but also the institutions, the personnel, the programmes. Christians who are talented and thus inclined should enter the industry and seek to change priorities, make Christ’s values known, bring others to Christ, and live out their Christian faith within the TV world. Living with integrity within any sphere dominated by more secular (or just confused in a sort of postmodern way) agendas will be extremely difficult, and Christians must be prepared to lose their jobs for the sake of doing so. But it might also turn out that some are able to change some things for the good. Christians in the media world need help, encouragement, challenge, not suspicion from well-meaning Pastors.

5. Christians should work to provide alternatives to secular television.
One of the problems with Christian television is that it is often an inferior version of the secular. Just like a lot of Christian pop music. Rather, Christian television should pursue aesthetic and artistic excellency. Christian TV programmes should be good, not cringeworthy. Christian TV should be innovative, creative, not merely a low budget version of Trisha with a sheen of ‘God-talk’. This is probably where we’re ‘furthest back.’ So much work needs to be done in the area of a Christian perspective on beauty/ aesthetics/ art/ story-telling before Christian cultural produce can be more like what it should be.

6. Christians should prioritise evangelism and holistic discipleship.

Ultimately, bringing TV to glorify God comes from the transformation of people into God-glorifiers in all areas of their lives. Preaching Christ (the whole Christ that is) will always be the first stone in the jar.

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