A Social History of The Media by Asa Briggs and Peter Burke is a fairly comprehensive overview and insight in to the world of media from “Gutenberg to the Internet.” It walks through the historical artifacts, timelines, key persons, advancements, and setbacks from the mid fourteen hundred’s to the twenty-first century. Although, “It was only in the 1920’s that people began to speak of “the media’…” its presence and effect has been felt and ultimately shaped our world for almost six hundred years.
The book reads more like an historical text. It begins with mid fourteen hundreds with the famous Gutenberg press and takes us in the twenty-first century with the explosion of the Internet. It’s a journey that begins with paper and ink that gives freedom of information to all. However, it ultimately ends with taking away the first freedom only to give in its place digital, which gives the most freedom man has ever experienced. Even in countries where media freedom does not exist, its squeezes its way in like water through the cracks of a foundation to ultimately burst the floodgates. The crazy thing is, we are seeing it everyday in high definition. From “Wiki leaks” to scandalous celebrity viral videos, to the toppling of governments it is all from media. And to think the definition or realization of its presence has only existed for less that One hundred years.
For me the book was more than an historical journey of how and why something like media began. Although, I find the history fascinating and exhilerating. As well, I also love the fact that media has always been “social”. Meaning it has and is by the people, of the people, and for the people. Although its form has changed from paper to digital, its purpose and essence has not, delivery of information has not.
The main idea that this book proposed, that I had never pondered, was how media has been affected from outside elements that are not seemingly related. The question is usually how or why has media changed or affected something or someone. But this book looked at the opposite perspective. In chapters four, five, and six is where most of the affect is discussed. From railways (transportation) and industry to shipping, communication, and entertainment, these five areas have most affected media. Interestingly enough, most of the change has happened in the last one hundred years. All of these areas are connected in that one opens the door for the other. Because railways were the gateway to change in media, the Novell headquarter offices in Silicon Valley were decorated with “paintings of great American locomotives.” This showing the connection and affect from media past and present. Media usually drives change, but this book shows the opposite.
One last statement that I found odd but strangely agreeable was found during the print revolution (mid 1400’s to late 1700’s): “in contrast (to the fast expansion and acceptance of media), print was slow to penetrate Russia and the Orthodox Christian world…” This was in part due to illiteracy that was common of many church attendees of the era. I find it agreeable and of no surprise because it seems that the church always seems to lag in advancement, even of its cause (the Good News). However, the church should be championing a new opportunity to further its mission (Good News), but is hindered not by the message but by methodology. Once again external affects upon media.
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Think Aaron C. For a very interesting blog,
I ponder on this statement of the blog “However, the church should be championing a new opportunity to further its mission (Good News), but is hindered not by the message but by methodology. Once again external affects upon media.” Yes the church could and should use the technology to advance the kingdom; but on the other hand the world is using it at rapidly speed to trap our children.
The Media’s influence isn’t occasional but comes on a daily basis. This unfortunately has a huge impact on teenagers who are already going through a lot of confusion and struggle because of the stage of life they are in (Craine et al., 2014).
The results of some media exposure are truly astonishing. Young, bright and eager teenagers with great future prospects enter the age of adolescence and transform into moody, sullen and depressed teenagers with destructive tendencies and violent behaviour as result of such media exposure (Tolma et al., 2014).
These individuals take on the roles that the modern society and media imposes on them with fear and uncertainty. A vast majority of such teenagers begin experimenting with alcohol and drugs in an effort to pursue the glamorous life that is portrayed to them through modern media outlets. However, caregivers, guardians and parents that try to coach their children and direct them back towards healthy activities are met with great resistance.
What are your thoughts on “The Disturbing Consequences “of the media on our youth?
Thanks for a great blog! Rose Maria
Craine, N., Midgley, C., Zou, L., Evans, H., Whitaker, R., & Lyons, M. (2014). Elevated teenage conception risk amongst looked after children; a national audit. Public health, 128(7), 668-670. Retrieved from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0033350614001206
Tolma, E. L., Stoner, J. A., McCumber, M., Montella, K., Douglas, T., & Digney, S. A. (2014). Longitudinal Evaluation of a Teenage Pregnancy Case Management Program in Oklahoma. Journal of Family Social Work, 17(5), 457-479. Retrieved from: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10522158.2014.94063
Great thoughts and insights. I think that media, like music, books, art, etc. is neither good or bad. It is a tool that is completely dependent on its user to determine its value and weather it’s good or bad. Therefore, I think we the church should redeem it. We should use anything short of sin to reach the lost.
You stated in your blog that the church always seems to lag behind in advancement. Do you think that is still true today? That may have been true in the past, but from my perspective I do not see that as being the case today. In fact one of the criticisms I have with the church is that it is increasingly looking and conducting itself more and more like the world. Christians today seem to lack discretion about what they allow themselves and their family to experience through the various forms of the media. That is, interacting with content or behaviors that they know are ungodly and morally harmful.
As a church leader, you have your work cut out for you because the vision God has given you for your congregation runs counter to the dominant social culture that is tugging at them. As a relatively young pastor, what methodologies have you discovered that are successful in keeping your congregation motivated to obey and serve God?
I do think the church (as a whole) lags behind culturally, especially in US. In the US the church is shrinking in size, and I think in power.
As for methodologies to keep the church motivated to serve God here are a few: high touch in relationships (small groups); high tech in communication (gatherings, social media, online campus); place of resource for people living their life for Jesus.
You use the phrase, “freedom of information to all.” I LOVE this phrase.
In a book entitled, “Lenin’s Tomb” David Remnick presents the theory that the primary cause of the disintegration of the Soviet Union was accurate information leaking out about the real history of the Soviet Union. When the Soviets’ revisionist history was discovered to be untrue, the whole ball of yarn came unraveled. So, TRUE information really is liberating.
What do you think, does “the truth shall set you free” apply to “freedom of information?”
“does “the truth shall set you free” apply to “freedom of information?” Sure, I think that totally works. great thought
I liked the quote and agree with it when you say:
“I find it agreeable and of no surprise because it seems that the church always seems to lag in advancement.”
Why do you think that is? It is not as if we do not have cutting edge thinkers. It seems like men such as Luther and Calvin embraced the press…others have embraced new forms of doing church such as Craig Groechel, so why does the church, for the most part, have skepticism towards new media and methods?
I think we over spiritualize the methods and make them sacred. This tension pulls against the wheels of progress. In the friction some are lost, some slow down, and few break away.
Man you are the wordsmith. What a word picture you create for us in this statement: “Even in countries where media freedom does not exist, its squeezes its way in like water through the cracks of a foundation to ultimately burst the floodgates.” It is so true. Water can get past all kinds of barriers and dams put up to keep it in.
I wonder is the Word of God becomes like water? Isn’t it amazing that there is a hand and glove effect with the gospel and the social history of change in the world.
How do you see the digital/ internet media transforming the distribution of the gospels and the new testament? Does this book explain what we are experiencing right now with Kindle and Cuba? The development of the bible app: You version?
TOTALLY! I agree with you! think the Bible taking digital takes it instantly into ALL the world. I also think leveraging technology is exactly what has taken place with the Kindle.
You are a “media guy” that is deep in ministry. You said, “the church should be championing a new opportunity to further its mission (Good News), but is hindered not by the message but by methodology.”
What are the opportunities that you see for the church now? You nor I get hung up in methodology, but what are potential hindrances that you see are possible hold ups for the Gospel?
I think the biggest hang ups on leveraging technology/media is making methodologies sacred. As for where it is going, I think an “On Demand” supply of theology and Biblical teaching per adult felt needs and current issues is one way we meet the world through media.
Hi Slim. Great summary and analysis. I agree. How do we as pastors keep an openness to new media while preserving the tradition, history, and theology of “doing church?” For me, that is the question. I agree with you that the church lags with advancement, but sometimes I wonder how good or bad that really is. Cheers.
I totally think that we can use technology to our own demise. Just because we “can” do something does not mean we “should.” I think the danger is chasing cool. We must keep the message, without exception, intact.