Mythmakers: Gospel, Culture and the Media

by William F. Fore

William F. Fore received a B.D. from Yale Divinity School and Ph.D. from Columbia University. A minister in the United Methodist Church , he was Director of Visual Education for the United Methodist Board of Missions, then Executive Director of the Communication Commission of the National Council of Churches in New York City. From 1989 to 1995 he was Visiting Lecturer in Communication and Cultural Studies at Yale Divinity School.. His publications include Image and Impact (Friendship Press 1970), Television and Religion: the Shaping of Faith, Values and Culture (Augsburg 1987, currently reprinted by SBS Press, 409 Prospect St., New Haven, CT 06511), and Mythmakers: Gospel Culture and the Media (Friendship Press 1990).

Published in 1990 by Friendship Press, 475 Riverside Drive, New York, NY 10115. Used by permission of the author. This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted Brock.


This book helps us look closely at the values of our “mediated” culture in light of the Christian Gospel.


  • Introduction The Christian gospel and the mass media are much in conflict.  It is our task to suggest how Christians can correlate the gospel, our culture and the media.
  • Chapter 1: What Does “the Gospel” Really Mean?

    This chapter challenges Christians to be true to the faith, and at the same time true to the canons of modern scientific inquiry.

  • Chapter 2: How Christians Interpret the Gospel We interact with God in terms of our own culture. Many examples are given -- in images, icons, art, music, hymns and others -- of how we confuse our culture with the gospel.
  • Chapter 3: How Communication Shapes our Culture In this chapter, a review of communication is outlined beginning with rudimentary forms of oral communication, to writing, to print, to wire, to wireless, to TV and the multitudes of influences upon our culture from these media.
  • Chapter 4: How Culture Shapes Our Meanings The selling of etiquette books, interchangeable jobs, packaged news, and everything from automobiles to satellites are the thrust of today’s media and the result of advanced capitalism. This driving force has changed our culture and its communication modes more during the last century and a half than in any other period in cultural history.
  • Chapter 5: Worldviews in Conflict The media world view and the Christian world view stand in pointed contrast: Our culture promotes consumption and waste, that our nature is to consume. The Christian world view promotes the harmony of all creation and that happiness is found in creating the reign of God within the self and among our neighbors.
  • Chapter 6: How to Read Television The media and especially television has enormous power over us. This chapter challenges us to learn how to read TV, for our illiteracy of it leads to the same consequence as print illiteracy, leaving us defenseless against its manipulation, misinformation and propaganda.
  • Chapter 7: How the Church Uses Television The media, especially TV, succumbs to the temptations of power causing the leaders of the electronic church to succumb to those temptations. Hence their gospel is not the gospel at all.
  • Chapter 8: Television News — Who’s in Control? The news media, especially TV, provides a special angle of control and vision of what we see.  It is in the business for profit, not for reality, for the expansion of the businesses, corporations and monopolies that support it, not for the depth of insight needed in our complex times. Its goal is to control the thought’s and desires of listening consumers.
  • Chapter 9: Media Imperialism — In Our Image A relatively small number of corporations – mostly U.S. -- control the production and distribution of communication throughout the world. Their purpose is not to help the poorer nations but to domi.em culturally and economically
  • Chapter 10: Video Violence Major reasons for lack of control of violence in TV are monopoly dominance by a few powerful companies, the drive for profits, the lack of accountability and a lack of the FCC to exercise oversight. This chapter suggests many ways in which better control of violence and sexual violence in the media might be initiated.
  • Chapter 11: What We Can Do There is a pressing need today to understand the pressure of our culture and its distortions as well as strengths. The author gives a multitude of ideas of what can be done by the average person, by the church, by community groups to become media literate.
  • Conclusion: Which is to Be Master? The need is to stand outside the current media system, for although this system is strong and entrenched with its powerful mythology, we add to our powerlessness if we allow ourselves to remain totally under it’s influence.