Monday, November 30, 2009

To Video Clip, or Not to Video Clip

I was asked to comment on this:

I see preachers who believe deeply in preaching use visual images as one more resource for effective communication. When it is used well, it is simply another illustrative tool that helps engage young adults with truth in a visual language they understand. In that sense, it follows in the tradition of Jesus' own preaching and teaching, which was not only packed with word-crafted images, but filled with object lessons (coins, wheat fields, fig trees and so on) that would be quite comparable to the use of a brief video clip in our own age. . . let's not attack or belittle those faithful preachers in a new generation who find such tools helpful as they seek to proclaim the Word of God.

Kent comments:

I don’t think it is an attack on anyone to point out that reliance on multi-media presentations could threaten preaching.  Multi-media presentations are always designed at some level to be entertaining.  But that is not the heart of the problem.  As many have pointed out, when we watch video clips our minds become passive.  This is significantly and qualitatively different from the active engagement required when we listen to a live presentation by a human speaker or when we read.

While I would not claim that this distinction means preachers should never use video clips, for example, it does suggest that we must be very careful indeed with a medium that makes us passive, and that (especially in our culture) signals ‘entertainment’ to most people.

Your counter-claim is that this ‘follows in the tradition of Jesus’ own preaching and teaching’ because he used object lessons.  But object lessons are not in the same category as video clips.  Jesus’ object lessons did not place people in the passive mode that our video-TV-movie medium does – in fact, Jesus approach did just the opposite.

The mere fact that some people ‘seek to proclaim the Word of God’ does not by itself mean that any technique they might use is neutral.  The claim that ‘a new generation finds such tools helpful’ could just as well be explained by the observation that some in recent generations are addicted to entertainment and do not like to engage in the mental effort required to follow preaching.  How much to pander to that attitude when preaching is debatable, but the existence and dangers of that attitude cannot be denied.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Campus Contradictions

The Northerner > Viewpoints

Apology from the newsroom

By Tim Owens
Print Editor-in-Chief

Published: Wednesday, November 11, 2009

In the last two issues, The Northerner ran an ad for a business called Resistance Records. The ad was cut-and-dry. It listed all of the types of music it sells and listed its URL at the bottom. But after this past weekend, we found the intent behind the ad was not so cut-and-dry.

Via an inquiry from Channel 12 News, who got the tip from a concerned reader, we found that Resistance Records is a business that promotes white supremacy.

After investigating the validity of this right after I got the call, I made the decision to immediately halt all business with Resistance Records. While it is not illegal to run ads of this nature, we at The Northerner see it as an ethical issue.  We do not wish to be in business with groups or organizations that promote any form of racism, sexism, ageism, or any other form of discrimination. While issues of this nature are dependent on who runs The Northerner each semester, it was my decision that the paper, for this semester, will not advertise with this business or other businesses like it.

Kent comments:

The Northerner is a college newspaper.  They can run the ads they want, of course.  But on college campuses there has been and remains a glaring contradiction.  Universities often loudly proclaim that they are places where ideas, even unpopular ones, can be explored.

The problem is that only some unpopular ideas are allowed an airing on most campuses.  For example, a few years ago at the university referred to in this article Angela Davis was a speaker.  When leftist statists air their views on campus and any objection is made, the reply comes that, while we don’t necessarily endorse these views, the university is a place where any idea can be explored.

But if the idea in question approves of ‘racism, sexism, ageism, or any other form of discrimination’ it is instantly squelched when discovered.  While I do not approve of any of these views, universities cannot have it both ways.  Either we can explore all ideas on campus, or we cannot.  If we can, then even very distasteful, even ethically objectionable, ideas must be allowed on campus.  If we cannot explore all ideas on campus, then universities must be just as quick to squelch any idea that anyone finds objectionable for the sake of making campuses comfortable for everyone.

This continuing attempt by universities to proclaim free expression while at the same time prohibiting a certain category of ideas (bad as they may be) is a bit of hypocritical inconsistency that someone should have the courage to correct.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Not Interested?

Yawning at the Word

It's really hard to listen to God when there are really interesting things to think about.

Mark Galli | posted 11/05/2009 10:33AM [Christianity Today]

When I preach, I often quote the Bible to drive home my point. I think it more persuasive to show that what I'm saying is not merely my opinion but a consistent theme of Scripture. And to avoid the impression that I'm proof-texting or lifting verses out of context, I quote longer passages—anywhere from 2 to 6 verses.

When I did this at one church, a staff member whom I'd asked for feedback between services told me to cut down on the Scripture quotations. "You'll lose people," he said.

I understood the reality he was addressing, and so I scratched out the biblical references for the next sermon. But lately I'm beginning to question that move, and wondering, Why have we become so impatient and bored with the Word of God?

Kent comments:

While the author of this article goes on to deplore this situation in his own way, I would like to offer a slightly different perspective.  Why do we assume that most people will be interested in hearing the word of God?

Of course, they should be but that is a very different matter from will be.

This is a theme that is found throughout the (and I hope no one will be bored when I say this) the Bible.  When Jesus sent out the disciples on their little ‘mission tour’ of Israel, He knew that some places would find few who were interested.  He told the disciples in those cases to move on to those who were interested.  Jesus one time told a story about seed falling on different kinds of ground.  On some kinds of ground – and the kinds of ground map to kinds of people – the word is not well-received.  Jesus made this very clear.

Of course, in the article from CT the author is talking about people at a church.  You might think people at a church would be intensely interested in the word of God.  Here is a little advice for people at a church who are put off by hearing ‘too much’ of the Bible:  go home.

Go home or to the ball game or to the restaurant, or wherever it is you would rather be.  You don’t belong at a gathering of the church.  Should you become intensely interested in the word of God, then come back to the assembly of the saints.

But if six verses of the Bible is too much at once for you at church, you have no business being there in the first place.  While you are waiting to meet the Author of that word, parked in front of the TV might be a better place for you.  At least you will be entertained while you are waiting.