I have been asked to speak on the subject of media quite often. I guess it comes out of my makeup. People see in me a love of media. I pride myself on being a student of pop culture. I have had friends mock me because the Grammy’s is “my own personal Super Bowl”. I visit mtv.com/news everyday. I check the Billboard charts weekly.
Billy Graham was an evangelist, John Maxwell speaks on leadership, and no matter what I do it seems people (including parents at my church) have me pegged as a media guy.
I don’t mind I am not fighting it. I say all that to explain why I am doing today’s entry. Tim Schmoyer has a challenge for bloggers to post on 100 things he wants answered. This is my response to “Teaching students to evaluate their media consumption.”
I have borrowed much of my material from the Center for Parent and Youth Understanding and want to point everyone to them as a resource. If you would want to turn this into a seminar or handout (as I have done in the past) just make all of the capitalized words into blanks. Without further delay here are my thoughts.
1 DISCOVER- Using questions to find themes, messages, and values in media we consume. Philippians 4:8-9
- What is the media’s main theme?
- What is the mood of the media?
- How is the media intended to make listeners feel? How does the media make me feel? Does this media manipulate emotions in anyway?
- Does this media make any overt or covert suggestions to listeners on how to think, act, or live?
- What does the media say about the way the world is? What does the media say about the world ought to be?
- Is there right and wrong? What is portrayed as right and what is portrayed as wrong? How are right and wrong determined?
- Is there a hero? Is there a villain? What do they stand for?
- What values and beliefs are seen as virtuous? What values and beliefs are portrayed as negative?
- What is the source of authority? What is the attitude towards this authority?
- How is God portrayed? What does it say about God? Who or what is “god”?
- Is the one true God replaced by something like self or money?
- How are human beings portrayed?
- Where is human value and worth found?
- How is beauty established, portrayed, and defined?
- What does it say about how to treat others? Are people “used” or portrayed as a means to an end?
- What is the source of happiness and satisfaction in life?
- Does the media send any messages about what makes a person successful in life?
- What does the media say about what is wrong with this world? Does the media suggest a solution(s) to life’s problems? If so what are those solutions
- Who or what is glorified?
- What does it say about peace and hope?
- Are suggestions made on where peace and hope can be found?
- Is it hopeful or hopeless?
- What character traits are portrayed as positive? What are seen as negative
RULE: ACCEPT what is complimentary; REJECT what is contradictory to the holistic message of the bible. Galatians 5:16-26-It is important to know who you are and what you believe (your worldview). This is your basis for all judgments.
HOW TO DISCERN ART…
- TECHNICAL EXCELLENCE-This is the creativity, production, and quality. This is an area that Christian media often gets slammed in. Some people feel Christians have decided that they don’t have to show artistic merit because they are Christians. Some use our Christian subculture as an excuse to make second-rate films and sign musical acts a year or two after secular trends.
- VALIDITY- is the creator of the media consistently true and honest to themselves and their worldview. Do they do things for the money or for the message? Some will say they believe one way but will promote the opposite in their message.
- IINTEGRATION of CONTENT and VEHICLE-this just means that we need to ask if the media (example: music and accompanying video) is consistent with the lyrical message
Colossians 3:1-17-Deciding if something has ENTERTAINMENT value or TRUE value to me…
Excuses to watch out for…
- “I don’t listen to the words; I just like the beat, music, etc.-“ WRONG! Studies have shown that you will be affected by the message and content of music whether you know it or not.
- “I have to listen to this band, because there is no equivalent in the Christian music scene” This excuse can only hold water if the band is not blatantly flunking our discovery test questions. Just because a group has a good sound doesn’t mean that you can use artistic merit to justify bad lyrics, testimony, or videos. It may take time and money to find a suitable replacement but there is a lot of music/media out there.
The Question is NOT Should I listen/watch? The Question IS Will I listen/watch? Also ask how media may have ministry value (but don’t use this as a crutch or excuse).Ask yourself…
- How does this help me to see and understand the worldviews and needs of my culture and my friends
- How would Jesus share His story and message with people who think and live this worldview?
- What Biblical examples of Jesus and God’s people can shape my response to these needs?
USE YOUR HEAD TO GUARD YOUR HEART
- CPYU.org – The Center for Parent and Youth Understanding
- PhilChalmers.com – National speaker or music and media discernment
- pluggedinonline.com – Publication of Focus on the Family that breaks down media and its messages quarterly. Also available in magazine.
- Screenit.com – Website that mindfully critiques movies on content and messages
- XXXChurch.com – Evangelistic Anti-Pornography website with internet blocking software
- SettingCaptivesFree.com – Website for beating addictions such as pornography through amputating the temptation, prayer and the word, and accountability