Looking at the impact of American Media on the family and how, as believers, we are to respond.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

What time are we meeting?

Hey guys,

Was it Tues 11 or 1?

Monday, December 05, 2005

To borrow a phrase from Etta James "At Last!"

Steve,
I find it relatively impossible to embrace a culture in which you are not connected. Sure I can say I feel bad for the homeless and I can spend a night in a cardboard box in the middle of my college campus to raise money for a homeless shelter but the next night I can climb into my nice warm lofted dorm room bed with heat and high speed internet and feel better about my self thinking I really understand what it's like. However in that one night never felt the totally loss of hope, knowing it couldn't get any better because I couldn't get a job because I didn't have a place to get ready for any type of interview or that in less than 3 months there will be 4 feet of snow on the ground and it will drop below Zero at night and I may freeze to death. Then two weeks later I'm walking down 8th street in Holland, MI to JP's coffee house and someone asks me for some change and I tell them I don't have any because I need that $5 to buy a Venti Black Squirrel with a double shot of espresso. Your point about motives and actions is a good one and yet I can't help the instant anger that I feel when people sympathize with terrorists (American flags flying and God bless America blaring) and yet I see your point that someone who could do such a thing as give up their own life for a cause must have felt terrorized in their own way somehow. Please do not get me wrong; there is no excuse for an act of terrorism EVER! but there is still a small ounce of human in everyone is there not? It is that ounce of human that I feel we, as Jesus followers have to find.

Speaking of the homeless I hope Mr. Potato Head found a good home...

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Tenth week

David,
I agree that there is nothing more hypocritical than intentionally not engaging in transformation when the possibility is here. However, I have come to expect that from media and the majority of journalists. It is more obvious than ever that the integrity of our avenues of information has been breeched by partisonship, hidden agendas, and pride. Unfortunately, before this most recent discovery, millions of poeple came to expect this same breech of the church, and it's only gettign worse. With the sexual scandals in the Catholic Church and the political connections in the Protestant Church, people are sceptical of believers and the institution. It seems to me that alot of the discussion in class has been to ditch the institution so that we can save the integrty of the individual believers. What do you think? how do you propose we as the church respond to the scepticism of our intentions? how do we rebuild trust in a society where ti has been depleted?

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Week 10

Andrew,

It's a sad fact that the forces of globalization are shipping traditionally American jobs overseas. I know many people have already lost jobs that have passed through their families for generations, but I think the situation will worsen for small town America, unless our government provides assistance. I don't know what's tougher- to lose a good job or to be handcuffed to a rotten one. I've read about deplorable working conditions in countries that employ children, and it appears American-based MNC's are not without some culpability. Media is successful at presenting these issues to our faces, but
oftentimes, we're unwilling to act. There are times when we shine- the aid that poured into the tsunami relief and Katrina reflect our generosity and goodwill- but it usually takes a major natural disaster for us to mobilize. Do you think the "bad" content in media has desensitized us to the real problems in our world? Does media influence our ability to show compassion? I think it does. I think media has warped our views on love as well. In the story of the Good Samaritan, the Samaritan showed love to his neighbor by what he did, not what he felt. I'm sure he didn't feel so warmly toward the Jew, yet he acted in love because the situation called for it. I think we need to revisit this kind of love.

Steve,

I agree with you that we are flawed people and don't have the mind of Christ. When I drive through skidrow sometimes I lock my doors and avoid eyecontact with the homeless there. I close my moral eyes because I know the place doesn't embody the Kingdom, and as a Jesus-follower, I am called to be salt and light in that place. But, the truth is, I don't want to minister to them, and I don't know many people who would. It's not that I don't care for them or wish better conditions for them, but I don't know where to start in helping them beyond giving them a few bucks and a "Jesus loves you." For me, I think I've been desensitized to the plight of the homeless because they're everywhere. I feel more concerned for the lost abroad than the lost in our own cities. The homeless situation is one in which I need to face my prejudices and ask the Holy Spirit to help me to act in ways I otherwise wouldn't.

Ok, so here are directions care of Yahoo map from Fuller to my apartment:

1. Start at 135 N OAKLAND AVE, PASADENA - go < 0.1 mi
2. N OAKLAND AVE becomes FORD PL - go 0.1 mi
3. Turn on LOS ROBLES AVE - go 0.3 mi
4. Turn on E GREEN ST - go 0.9 mi
5. Turn on S MICHIGAN AVE - go < 0.1 mi
6. Arrive at 110 S MICHIGAN AVE, PASADENA

It's Apt. #5, last one down on the first level on the right.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Week Ten comes at last...

David,
I agree that cultural hybridization is a good thing, and I think with the many cultures that can be found in the United States that it will be fascinating to see what the cultural and ethnic landscape is like in another fifty years. How can the church work ahead of that curve. We've talked about how the chuch has been behind the curve in so many trends and in mass media. So what efforts can we make right now to be a part of this cultural evolution? After all, 11 o'clock Sunday mornign is the most segrregated hour in the America.

Martha, Martha, Martha,
Having grown up in the ghetto, I totally concur. erh... oops... I mean, having grow up in Palm Beach, Florida with all my rich white friends, I find it funny as well how people mimic ghetto culture while living a rich, "frat-boy" (those are your words) lifestyle. It's really funny, but rather sad as well that people are like that. It's like going to Epcot--I might be too scared to travel to other countires or too stingy to pay for a flight, so I go to Epcot to simulate the adventure. Except, I'm not surrounded by Mexicans or Japanese, rather a hoard of rich, white, English-speaking Americans. Look around and notice all of the simulated adventures people live out. Unfortunately I think many mission trips fall under this category.

Steve,
I agree that it is very difficult to truly accept another culture, but it is possible. After all, missionaries do it, do why can't we? ok, maybe most missionaries are a little above average on the culture-crossing scale. I don't think we need to apologize for being Americans like some would have us think, but I think we need to be able to set aside cultural differences for the sake of the Gospel and communication. Even though I look ahead towards possibly going to an international mission field, I can't see myself ever totally giving up my culture. If I'm going to move to Brazil and adopt a local soccer team to appease my inclination towards sports and comradery, I still expect to see every Super Bowl and have my Brazilian friends over for the big game. (after all, American footabll is superior in every way... except the dramatic flops and falls)

Andrew, you make several valid and insightful points. I find it interesting that you ended your post with a statement about ignorance. It made me think, are the children trapped in the mine town also trapped into ignorance about their future because they only see a future in the mine until it is really too late for them to reach for something outside their sphere of reality? Could this possibly be a positive aspect of mass media, in that it reaches people who would otherwise be hidden from an outside reality of a bigger world outside a small town. We seemed to focus a lot on the problems of media infiltrating our families but it can bring information where it is much needed.

Tim, What are things that are "truly irreconcilable?" May I put on my devils advocate hat for a moment? For the discussion of pornography... do you ever think it will go away? Will there cease to be men's desire for sex and a woman's desire to do things to please men and attain affection?
I fully agree about the quick fixes and lack of effort needed to truly interact with social issues. Media... dose it help, hurt or do both to aid in this situation?

Andrew, you make several valid and insightful points. I find it interesting that you ended your post with a statement about ignorance. It made me think, are the children trapped in the mine town also trapped into ignorance about their future because they only see a future in the mine until it is really too late for them to reach for something outside their sphere of reality? Could this possibly be a positive aspect of mass media, in that it reaches people who would otherwise be hidden from an outside reality of a bigger world outside a small town. We seemed to focus a lot on the problems of media infiltrating our families but it can bring information where it is much needed.

Tim, What are things that are "truly irreconcilable?" May I put on my devils advocate hat for a moment? For the discussion of pornography... do you ever think it will go away? Will there cease to be men's desire for sex and a woman's desire to do things to please men and attain affection?
I fully agree about the quick fixes and lack of effort needed to truly interact with social issues. Media... dose it help, hurt or do both to aid in this situation?

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Tim's Responses for Weight of the World - Wk. 9

I’m hoping everyone read the media chapter in Weight of the World. There’s some good stuff in there. As I talked about in my blog for this week, we definitely need to set up a section of the wiki that looks at the power of image and the language of media. Maybe a few scientific resources would be good to explain the power of constructed images/editing in TV, movies and advertising, and the same for how music is constructed along w/ lyrics. There is great power in these mediums which I think the “powers” have understood in order to use these structures for evil purposes. In turn, I think there is great power in being wise about using media as believers, for the glory of the kingdom. Not sure if I’m talking about propaganda (Hitler expertly used movies and newsreel footage to promote and persuade toward the Nazi machine). The challenge in my own head is how to use media without preaching. I think of how our testimonies can be so effective or perhaps the trend we may be seeing the beginning of: classical Christian works being produced into movies such as Narnia. We still must emphasize quality in terms of any production.

Another resource we could provide (or just promote) is a guide to discerning television news, movies, etc. with easy to understand pictures of worldviews, use of imagery, and the constant reminder to be open to all points of view.

I’m thinking of the power Champagne talks about when people see a message over and over they begin to agree with it and assimilate that message as truth. This is power! That is certainly a new frontier.

Where we stand currently is discernment. We must be open with eyes and ears – to the messages and strategies of the enemy as well as culture. In addition, how would Jesus really respond to current media and the offerings of the Internet? Definitely something we need to keep covered in prayer. And that’s something we can’t forget to include in the wiki – this thing needs saturated in prayer!

Week 9

Andrew,

I agree that the church needs to reassess how we interact with and integrate pop culture. It is important that Jesus followers search for and acknowledge positive values in media and use shadows of truth to connect with nonbelievers, but in the process, we need to acknowledge our consumption of negative values also. As the Bible says, "All things are lawful, but not all things are beneficial." This verse is directed at us. I acknowledge that the transformation of our culture requires active engagement with it, but I think we need to draw a very clear line between convenience and conviction in our use of it. If we're decided to change it, then let's be vigilant and clearminded about understanding it and influencing it for the glory of God. If we're wading in its waters with no clear purpose, then I suggest we get out and change it through prayer from without.

Martha,

Very interesting point about us being allowed to slip into a culture without paying our dues. Sure, I may sag baggy jeans and bump 2Tac without having any knowledge of the hip hop culture, but there are also slangers who drink Dom Perignon from the bottle and wear very ugly and expensive custom-made jewelry. It cuts both ways, and I think this is the great appeal of media. Television is "vision from afar", and I think one of its attractions is that all viewers are allowed to plug into any mainstream culture. Media keeps us informed just enough to feel in touch, but far enough to be ignorant. In a recent survey, 80% of Americans identified themselves as Christians. Of all people, I think "Christians" who don't know Jesus are in the worst position. They believe that going to church for Easter and Christmas or giving a bum a buck or two will get them into the Kingdom because that's all they know about Christianity. They are allowed to slip into our culture without paying their dues and unless they get it straight, they're going to hell. I think it's our responsibility as Jesus followers to be visibly unaccepting of this version of Christianity.

Steve,

I agree that a better approach is for us as Jesus followers to give reasons why we are against artists instead of telling people that they're going to hell because they listen to that type of music. An even better approach might be to introduce them to Christian music and let the music speak for itself. This is where a need for good Christian music comes into play, and I think groups like Switchfoot and Jars of Clay are good examples of Christian artists paving the way and setting a standard for quality music that mainstream America can appreciate. People won't be won over by our words. We need to be true to God and let His light shine before men.

Tim,

I think the power of media is felt over time by constantly suggesting. It's sorta like art imitating life, imitating art, and pretty soon, reality and the perception of it blend seamlessly. I agree that media isn't a bad thing. You're right that it's important for us to understand that it reflects constructed points of view rather than actual truth, but even if we're viewing with a conscious eye, we're still influenced or infected by negative content. I also wonder if people want to think when using media. In watching TV, isn't the point just to let go and unwind in front of a screen? It's sorta like using drugs. I think people do it to let go and get lost in the experience. As Christians, should we subconsciously shape users of media using similar worldly practices?

Sunday, November 20, 2005

David,
I appreciated your observation that there is a parallel between capitalist industries selling goods and making profits and the church sharing the gospel and winning souls. In the contemporary world of mega churches and worship and evangelism through entertainment and technology, how do we differentiate between "selling" the Gospel and "sharing" the Gospel? Too often we end up selling good news. For instance, I've worked at two 2000+ member churches in the outreach departments. Despite having so many people, we had to "sell" our opportunities jsut to get enough people so we didn't have to cancel events. It was so frustrating and felt so backwards. in one sense the Gospel or "Jesus" is a beast that doesn't need to be sold, but we feel like we have to repackage him over and over again until people like him. Is it possible to do that respectively or can we do that without watering down the message and power of the Good News?

Tim's Responses for "Inventing Popular Culture"

David – good job. Yes, we do have a lot to learn from other cultures and that’s something we don’t think very often about. I heard there are countries sending missionaries to the USA! This is good – because I believe the message of Christ is (obviously) multi-cultural – it speaks in every language. I just heard a message on Chinese Christians and how the Chinese written language is based on Christian symbolism – over 120 concepts! The point is – God has implanted salvation, grace, righteousness, the “Lamb” into cultures – Western, Eastern and everything in between! So often I think American Christians think we have all the answers – Jesus must have been white-skinned with blue eyes and drank Coca-Cola. So when it comes to globalization – it’s vital our message of consumerism does not dominate over the uniqueness of other cultures. This is a good thing.

About consumption forming our identities and our self-formation – wasn’t Christ really about giving, rather than consuming? How does this play out in our formation and our identities? Obviously, the text wasn’t written from a Christian worldview, but what would Christ say about our identities and how they’re formed? I believe he’d rather disagree by saying we’re identified by what we consume. Nevertheless, within context – others – looking at Christians – may identify us as what we consume – not by the fruits of our lives, for example. I think it’s a tragedy consumerism is a basis for who we are as a culture. It’s a complex picture.

I think as a group we should consider Storey’s recommendation of reconsidering the importance and value of Post-modernity. Who knew Mike Myers was so deep? We can learn SO much about how to minister and reach our own culture with the promise of Christ if we learn how to READ our culture. With a critical eye, (why did the recent Spielberg movie War of the Worlds end the way it ended?) we may have precious insights into the fears, joys, hopes, misconceptions our culture has – and then address those in due process.

Storey talks about capitalism at great length. As a group, we’ve talked about greed being the great motivator of media companies. And we’ve discussed how Hollywood (or media) doesn’t make anything that doesn’t sell. So to the classic question: does life imitate art, or art imitate life? Probably a little of both. I would argue though pop culture holds a wealth of information that acts as sort of a barometer of where our “collective identity” rests. What a great starting point to understand ways to evangelize and reach people. Like great missionaries who go into cultures and “listen” for 2-3 years. Very important stuff.

Week 8

Andrew-

It's the sad truth that the global information system exists to make money, and greed and the love of money guides and propels mass media. Technology certainly facilitates this operation. You say we need to assess the true value of media and technology and seek to redeem it for Christian values. Easier said than done. As Christians, the true value of media and technology lies in the potential to expand the Kingdom. We need to utilize both to communicate the love of God expressed in Christ for all to men hear, believe and be saved. How do we create a culture in media and technology in which the powers of love and grace beat out greed? I wish I knew, but I don't, so I pray.

Martha & Steve-

I agree that a good portion of the media has gone to the dogs. I, too, don't want people outside America to think I'm an angry, sex craving and profane egomaniac that the majority of media is successful at portraying Americans to be. We need to consider what the "quality" of American media does for the rest of the world and our own culture. All people are influenced by media and many believe what they see in it. In America we say "If it bleeds, it leads." If we export this fear culture to the world, how will this effect global security, cooperation and trust in a time when our world needs serious reconciliation? The "bad" content of our media is what radical muslims point to in calling us the American devil. It's a travesty that some terrorists feel it's their God-given duty to protect their countries from the influence of American Christians.

Tim-

No doubt we are affected by the context in which we live. The culture, collective story and our personal stories impact the building of our identities. Therefore, as Christians, it's imperative that we determine our contexts in the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit, in as much as it's possible for us to do so. Often, we're required to make difficult and unnatural choices based on Christian principles and persevere. We need to be aware of what we allow ourselves to be exposed to, and even more aware of how we expose the light of Christ in our midsts. -David