The media tends to pickup on a majority rules mindset. Whatever the fad is, whatever is the new thing we should be addicted to is what they sale. American poet Allen Ginsberg said this about the media ““Whoever controls the media, the images, controls the culture.” The media is the deity of the global culture. We have learned how to become victims of what is set before us. The media utilizes psychological research to brainwash the viewers into believing their is this deep hole or lack within them that the product they are selling can fill. If culture was a ship, media would be the rudder, but where is the rudder? Unseen, below the ship. Although we think we can see the media, the media has somehow found a way to always seem a friend. When I define media, I don’t mean paparazzi or news channels, I am talking of a much larger entity that we get glimpses of and interact with but never truly see all of the tricks up its sleeve.
Theology has seemed to follow not too far behind. The traditional theology talks of a lack, of a need that not a few people but that all of humanity have, a ‘god-shaped hole’ some quaintly refer to. Now, I don’t want to minimize the power behind this idea, I don’t even want to refute it, because there could be truth to this, and I think there is. But the way its presented is a complete shadow of the media. The message has been tainted by tinsel town. The idea that humanity needs God to be fulfilled (again most likely true) and we sale it through a systematic process is nothing unlike what the media does. The message plays on psychological demands of the listener. The listener must be willing to engage with the message, most likely in a vulnerable place of some sort. Then the listener must be able to accept that there is a lack. Then the listener is offered the opportunity to ‘buy’ the product.
Jesus doesn’t seem to be so keen to always let others ‘buy the product’. He interacts with three different people who want to follow him but have things they need to get done, and he responds to each individually as if to say ‘you need to leave everything behind if you really want to see what I am all about’. Which wasn’t an easy message to swallow. Jesus was stating to the new follower that his desire has to supercede even his own family obligations. It is also an incredibly powerful statement to the man who wants to follow. Jesus is essentially saying that the man has what it takes to follow him (or why would Jesus try to convince the man to leave it all behind). We have to leave ourselves behind. An emptying to be filled.
Theology looks a lot more like television. Pixelated. Separated. All over the place. Maybe if media can teach us anything is the need for pluralistic understandings of God. It does seem the images that flash across our screen are varied and creative. Our theology can be the same. We can see God in a whole new light. The eclectic choice of channels gives us so much freedom to choose how we might get to know God as well as the realization that one worldview doesn’t fit God. That God is bigger.
What kind of media do you want to be?