Sunday, 19 May 2013

Media Consumption and Piety

Last month I blogged about a panel that I was part of. As it happens there were a few questions in the queue that were never asked on the night. So here's the (paraphrased) question, and what I probably would have said in response.

Q: What media is it appropriate for Christians to watch, read, or listen to?

I guess the spirit of the question is mostly about how media imagery affects the personal piety of the believer. Does watching lots of music videos featuring scantily clad girls count as lusting in one's heart, contra to Matthew 5? Will watching violent slasher flicks make the viewer more inclined to anger? In short: will exposure to morally questionable (whatever that means) media have a negative influence on its audience?

First of all, if we're worried that sexual or violent imagery will corrupt us, then we'd best remove several passages in the bible itself (Psalm 137, Ezekiel 16 and 23, just to name a couple). Or perhaps just not read them, leave them under the carpet where no one has to know about them. Like them or not, they're in the bible. Ban violent media and you have to ban the bible along with it.

And second, what is probably more important is the choice of which media content we endorse by its consumption. Supposing we spend money on a magazine that promotes false expectations about body image, we endorse that view. The publishers will get our money and point to yet another sale indicating the popularity of their content, and the magazine will continue to operate and propagate its distorted message.

While there is a connection between what we consume and how we think, the more significant message is that there is an economic and social connection between what we spend our money on and how the world is shaped into the future.
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