I was a little nervous about this post because most of us, including me, don’t need any help justifying our media consumption. But at the same time, I want to make it clear that I don’t think of media as an evil thing. I think media is an important part of culture, and here’s why.
When Tim Keller talks about culture as it was intended, he talks about using the raw materials that God created and rearranging them to promote human life and flourishing. He defines the category that media would fall into by saying,
“When you take the raw material of sound and human experience and produce music and narrative — that’s the arts” (Podcast published on 9/1/11).
And so that is what we are looking for in media: does it promote human life and flourishing — does it create art?
The first opportunity that media gives us, is one of art and culture. Movies, songs, books, and internet pages can “promote human life and flourishing,” and when they do they make this world and our lives better. Unfortunately, a lot of mainstream movies, songs, and books are so processed to cater to a large audience or corporate sponsor that they lose their artistic value. And then of course, as we have talked about a lot already, many of these same media outlets are full of so much filth that they hurt human life and flourishing. But the point of this post is that media can be a form of culture creating, and when it promotes human life and flourishing it’s a beautiful thing.
Another opportunity that media gives us, is the opportunity of learning. Media gives us access to information that most generations never had. Movies and songs can be full of challenging ideas or concepts that help make us better humans. Every time I watch Man vs. Wild, I’m challenged to get outside and enjoy the outdoors. I love listening to podcasts and being challenged by teachers and pastors that live in other parts of the country. And music, I love music. Especially when I can come away from a song with a new concept of God or the human condition. I mean who hasn’t connected with U2’s “I Still Havent Found What I’m Looking For,” at one point or another in their life. Media can challenge, inform, and give us the opportunity to learn, and again — when it promotes human life and flourishing, it’s a beautiful thing.
Yep, I’m going to say it — I like being entertained, and entertainment has value. The most recent Transformers movie might not have had much if any art, but I enjoyed watching it. Yes, I know it’s a corporate sponsored, high-action, mega-movie, but it was fun. TV shows like “The Big Bang Theory” or “The Office” are a lot of fun to watch because they make us laugh. And sitting down on the couch with a bowl of pop-corn watching football is not a bad thing in and of itself. The third opportunity that media gives us, is the opportunity to be entertained — to take a break from the craziness around us and relax.
What other ways can you think of that media benefits us and our culture? I’d love to hear your thoughts, you may comment below…
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*another borrowed picture, this time its from: http://www.tsu.edu/Images/media/center/MEDIA_6_2-11-06.jpg