The Medium and the Message

Now that the dust has settled here in blog-land, or at least this little portion of it, let’s continue our ride into what will soon be tomorrow.

Truth is, I was a little overwhelmed with the response to “The Truth Is Out There” and have let it play itself for a time. It was an exciting ride and I am ready for some “regular” food after the exotic cuisine of the past few weeks. There was some deep stuff being touched upon and my hope is that we are all in a better place today that we were in yesterday.

What I have learned from all of this is that there is a big group of people, past and present in my life, who make up the body of Christ as I know it. And that we can organize ourselves to meet the needs of the moment and take care of some of the past’s oversights.

Also, I have learned that we are all in some sort of process of figuring out who we are and what part we play in the bigger scheme of things. We have all been hurt by authority and that most of us are longing for the truth of the gospel to be manifest in our lives.

I began an entry yesterday but it took a wrong turn and was really much to personal to post. The point I was trying to make was a good one and when I figure out how to make it more general, I will let it tell its story.

Several years ago I read a book entitled “Four Arguments For The Elimination of Television” by Gerry Mander. I don’t know why this info popped into my mind specifically, but some of the thoughts he presented seem to be relevant based on what we are all collectively trying to understand about the modern church and how it is supposed to look.

Since I no longer seem to have the book in my “library’ I went to the net to find some stuff about it to jog my memory a little bit. The following quote is rather long but describes the first argument put forth by the book’s author and will be a stepping stone for us to leap off of.

“To start, Mander keeps things simple.
Although he refers to various studies throughout the book, much of his
argumentation is based on good old solid common sense. For instance, he
notes early on that television can be used only for certain purposes,
most of which are detrimental. To drive this point home, he draws an
analogy to the existence of firearms in modern society. He notes that
guns have a very specific purpose and they actually predetermine their
use as well as the people who use them. Guns are for killing things,
plain and simple. And the majority of people who end up using guns are
people who kill.

The technology predetermines the outcome.
The same, argues Mander, can be said of television. It is simply a
matter of mapping TV’s form and function in order arrive at conclusions
concerning the detrimental nature of its influence.

Mander’s first argument centers on the
mediation of experience. Speaking not so much about television and more
so about how society has progressed, he explains that as humans have
moved more and more into controlled living and working environments, we
have lost touch with true direct experience. To his mind, this has led
to a crisis in knowledge. Everything is interpreted and processed and
packaged to the point that the true nature of things is completely
lost. This alienating experience narrows the field of vision on life.” Source Link

In other words, much of what we percieve to be “reality”on TV is actually someone else’s perception of it. And therein, as Holmes would say, lies the rub. I am not a deep thinker—yet I do have the ability to see patterns and then begin to tie things together in order to reach an understanding of what is going on around me.

And don’t get me wrong—I like TV. Maybe not the TV you like but what feels good to me. I was a “thirty something” guy and an “X-Files” and “Twilight Zone” fan. Most of the shows I have enjoyed (other than Sienfeld) have been taken off the air just after I have gotten attached to them. I liked “Joan of Arcadia” even though I was never really sure if the producers even had a clue as to who God really is.

The point being that what we have perceived as real is really something that we have been spoon fed in order for some production company to make money. And even to the degree that “reality” is presented to us, it is divorced from its roots and therefore not really “real” any more. We can’t really think that we understand the effect of AIDS in Africa just because we have seen a documentary on the subject. Mander would say just the opposite occurs. Because we have seen and processed the information about it, we think we have first hand knowledge about it—and the reality is that is furthest thing from the truth.

Most of us (present company excluded) have not been to Africa and will never be. So to say that we “understand” what is going on there is an understatement of large propoortions.

As I pondered this dynamic, I began to extrapolate this information into the local church and what we have all experienced within this construct the past several years.

And, having reached this point, I will end with a question: Is what we perceive to be the world-wide local church (the organization) something that is only a representation of the reality of a relationship with God and not the real thing. Is is something we have substituted for actualy having a first hand knowledge of the Living God. And if that is so, what can we expect to gain from it?

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