Tag: culture

Positive Cultural Change . . . through Media

familytvinfluenceHow the West Really Lost God, by leading cultural critic Mary Eberstadt, presents a powerful new theory about why religion has declined in the Western world.

Prevailing wisdom has suggested that the decline of religion brought about the demise of the family. But Ms. Eberstadt turns this logic around with her impressive body of research that shows the reverse has also been true: the decline of the family has further undermined Christianity itself. And most believers have no idea how to stop it from happening.

If Ms. Eberstadt’s theory is true, faith and family go together, and the decline of both may be having an adverse effect on society. It makes sense, as well, to note that our media saturated culture plays a part in this . . . exposing us every day to media content, both good and bad.

Never before in human history has such a wide and diverse number of men and women wielded such awesome and continuing influence over the global populace as do the leaders of electronic media and social media.

The Church’s responsibility is to pray for these leaders. Theirs is to decide whether or not to allow Him to work in and through them for great, pure, and noble purposes.

Some companies are beginning to take this connection of faith, families, and media seriously    . . . like Variety magazine, whose popular event, PURPOSE: The Family Entertainment & Faith-Based Summit, is dedicated to stimulating family entertainment and faith-based programming.

Nourished by Story

Excerpts from “The Nourishment Business,” by children’s author John R. Erickson


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My mother, Anna Beth Erickson, was an excellent cook . . . . She regarded cooking as more than drudgery and more than a process of blending ingredients and spices into palatable concoctions. In her view, there was no job more important than monitoring the source of her family’s food supply and tending to its preparation.

She also recognized that there was a spiritual dimension to eating. We took our evening meals together as a family. For that one hour, we became more than individuals racing off to meetings and school events. We were the Erickson family. We said grace together, ate in a mannerly fashion, and talked.

Mother was a nutritionist, a student of the science of wellness and wellbeing—the chemistry of Life. She understood that what we eat, and how we eat, contributes substantially to who we are, both physically and spiritually.

I often compare what I do with what my mother did. There is a spiritual dimension to storytelling that equates to the chemistry of food preparation. A good story satisfies the appetite for entertainment, but it can also reveal truth, structure, justice, humor, and beauty, and when that occurs, a writer has the opportunity to make readers better than they were before.

People need good stories just as they need wholesome food and clean water. Stories that enumerate chaos and absurdity leave us weaker and diminished. Those that reveal beauty and meaning in human experience nourish the soul.

We who were given the talent to write (or compose music or make movies) should use our gifts to strengthen the people who use our products. Like humble cooks, we’re in the nourishment business, and that changes the focus of art from Me to Us.

“Us” is who we are as a people, the human family. In this country we share a core of traditions and beliefs that we call “civilization.” For at least 3,000 years, philosophers, prophets, and preachers have told us we should preserve it, protect it, and pass it down to the next generation.

The Founders of our nation accepted this as common sense. So did Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Luther, Bach, and C. S. Lewis. It used to be taught in great universities, and I hope it still is.

Are we making our readers stronger or weaker, better or worse? That’s a question that anyone in the nourishment business should be asking every day.

*Posted July 23, 2016 at https://world.wng.org/2016/07/the_nourishment_business

Turning Scripture into Spam

email-spam-2According to Christianity Today (CT, June 2016), two hundred billion tweets went out in 2015, and 40 million of them highlighted Bible verses. About half a million of these came from just ten pastors, celebrities, and social media stars, with John Piper, founder of Desiring God, at the top of the list. Other notables in the top ten include Franklin Graham, Dave Ramsey, Tim Tebow, Joyce Meyer, and T. D. Jakes.

But CT reveals that bots—programs that auto-create tweets—are also sharing the Good News. “Around 20 million of the 40 million verses shared on Twitter this year . . . came from Bible spam accounts—accounts that do nothing but tweet Bible verses all day,” says Stephen Smith of Open-Bible.info, who crunched the data.

Is this a good thing? Is it simply getting the Good News to more people . . . or is it digital overload? Is God’s Word changing lives, or is the heart of His message getting lost in cyberspace?

Phil Cooke, media consultant and author of Unique: Telling Your Story in the Age of Brands and Social Media, opines, “Who thought we’d ever see Bible and spammers together in a sentence? At first blush, it sounds like a good idea, since God’s Word doesn’t return void. But . . . the overwhelming clutter of media today desensitizes people.

“Our challenge in a digital culture is to develop strategies for making sure the message cuts through and actually gets noticed.”

Another perspective from Meredith Gould, author of The Social Media Gospel: “. . . I don’t care how or how often Scripture gets launched into cyberspace—or who sends it out. History is filled examples of people with less-than-stellar lives who have nevertheless helped deepen faith and belief. I trust that Bible verses will land, maybe taking root.”

In Philippians 1:18, Paul addresses a controversy about the character flaws of some who share the Gospel. His conclusion? “What does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached.”

Your thoughts? Weigh in at feedback@mastermediaintl.org.