Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Hearing God in the mass media age

The following is a quote from Wheaton College professor Read Mercer Schuchardt, from a chapel talk "God Does Not Post to YouTube."

When the college chaplain invited me to speak on the theme of “Embracing God’s Will”, I immediately accepted — in fact, I embraced it as God’s will. And my next thought was, ‘Wow, that’s a really short message’ – but these are accelerated times we’re living in, so you are dismissed.
But before you go, I’d like to also talk about the weird habit you have of preemptively leaving the building before you’ve even entered it. I’m talking about mentally checking out just as you physically settle in. I’m talking about being pre-emptively distracted before you’ve focused in on what might be boring. About why it’s so much fun to talk to your pseudo-friends while texting your real friends to make plans for lunch, but not so much fun to just sit there and like, watch your real friends chew their food, which usually results in texting your pseudo-friends to make plans for dinner. I’m talking about being overmediated and consequently disembodied. I wish to speak to you about the incompatibility between the incarnate church and discarnate man.
In fact, since you’re already dismissed, I’d like you to actually be free to sit down, get comfortable and really pay attention, since we now have all this extra time. In other words, instead of being physically present but mentally absent, I want you to consider yourself physically absent so that you can be mentally present. In public speaking, this is called an attention-grabber. But here’s the problem: when everything competes for your attention, nothing actually has the power to grab it.
When everything grabs your attention, it grabs it in, by my rough estimate, 15-20 second bursts of attention minimum, and at maximum it lasts 3 minutes, roughly the length of a music video.
Cui bono? Who benefits from this shortened attention span? Your banker benefits, because you’re not paying attention closely enough to your electronic deposits and withdrawals. Your politicians benefit, because a people easily distracted are easily dissuaded from their own opinions, and perhaps their own convictions. Your media entertainment consumer complex benefits, because it’s so easy for advertisers to create desires you didn’t have to make you buy products you don’t need with money you haven’t earned to impress people you can’t stand. Your churches churn and turnover members and leaders like a laundromat, because with 23,000 Protestant denominations to choose from, the primary reason for switching churches is musical worship style, or in other words, how you feel about the 3-minute song you’ve just heard.
So really, everyone benefits except you. . .

If that grabbed your attention click here to read the whole thing.

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