Thursday, January 25, 2007

Recent Happenings

I recently returned from a trip to Amherst, Ohio where I spoke several times for their Youth and Family Focus weekend. The topic was the intersection between Christianity and Hollywood. My three main presentations were: "Being Christian in the Twenty-First Century," "Christianity and the Culture Wars," and "Media and Morality."

I think what the Amherst church did is a good model. The focus was not on slamming the entertainment industry, but on learning to become responsible consumers. Too often we have operated with a war metaphor for conceptualizing our relationship with the entertainment industry: they are the enemy and we must attack and defend our ground. If we shift metaphors, however, that changes the entire dynamic. If we define our relationship with the entertainment industry with the metaphor of dialogue as opposed to warfare, that changes everything. It's the model of Paul who went into Athens and instead of attacking their idolatry and beliefs, simply said, "Let's talk about all of this and see what we can learn."

It is important in our media-saturated culture that we learn to how to analyze the products of the entertainment industry. Children and young people need to be trained in how to watch television and film intelligently and how to listen to music just as they are trained how to read poetry or literature. The challenges posed by the rapid advancements of technology are not going to go away, and will probably only increase, so the church cannot afford to sit on the sidelines. Being salt and light in the world means learning how to engage the world.


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