I’ve spent the last several days preparing a Powerpoint with extensive video and image illustrations for high school students. The hope is to get them to install an internal media filter that will stay in place whether they are watching TV or YouTube, Twittering or uploading photos to their Facebooks, playing video games, or texting on their phones. We are called to glorify God in everything we do (1 Cor. 10:31), and that certainly extends to processing media messages.
It was most enlightening me for to find illustrations for this presentation. The naturalistic worldview that characterizes our society runs from the merely godless (most of the Harry Potter books, up to the shock of the Christian elements at the end of the last book) to the openly hostile (House, M.D.’s contempt for all things and people of faith). When I read the lyrics of the top iTunes songs, I couldn’t help but wince at the potty-mouth sexism of “Boom Boom Pow,” the glorification of “Waking Up in Vegas” (hungover and married???), and the total insipidity of the “No Boundaries” song our brother Kris Allen was forced to sing on American Idol.
Finding illustrations for the way the media desensitize us wasn’t hard. Consider that most high school students have a “ho-hum, yawn” apathy about same-sex marriage; they’ve been desensitized to the whole issue. And there is more blood and gore in the opening credits of CSI than most people would have seen in a lifetime a generation ago, but we munch on chips through it all while not blinking an eye.
Nor was it hard to think of ways in which the media present an unreal view of our world. Girls are still in love with Edward, the vampire hero of the Twilight series. And back to CSI: the last time I was called to jury duty, during the voir dire process we were told of the “CSI Effect” that now leads juries to have unrealistic expectations about how crime evidence is harvested. Solving real-life crimes is harder than it appears to be in a 60-minute show. (I mean, c’mon, don’t we all just know that every partial print is going to show up in CODIS?)
We will be calling students to glorify God in their media consumption by engaging a filter comprised of questions through which they view and experience images and messages:
- What is their view of life? Where do they say life is found?
- Can you discern the philosophy of those pumping out images, information, or music?
- Are they telling the truth in what they’re saying?
- Is there hostility to certain values and beliefs, especially Christianity?
- How does this compare to what God tells us to keep in mind? (What is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy)
Come to think of it, maybe that’s not such a bad thing for all of us to do!