A Theology of Communication

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What Is Theology? Theology is a statement that tries to make sense out of our lives. Of course, there are more sophisticated views of theology. And there are many different kinds of theology: historical, systematic, practical, black, liberation — in fact, a "theology of" just about every movement and topic that requires serious thought and …

Chapter 1: Seeing and Hearing: Prolegomena  in  

Book Chapter

Compared to phonetic language, graphic symbolism benefits in a special way from a degree of independence: its content expresses in the three dimensions of space what phonetic language expresses in the single dimension of time. Images enjoy a dimensional freedom that writing lacks. An image can set in motion the verbal process which leads to the telling of a myth, but the image is not attached to the myth. Thus in the case of picture writing we are in the presence of "groups of figures coordinated within a system that is foreign to linear organization and thus foreign to the possibilities of continual speech."

Chapter 1: The Emergence of Religious Television  in  

Book Chapter

Religion on television has been around since the inception of television, just as it was with early radio. The history of the first twenty years, including Bishop Sheen. The rapid expansion from 1960 and the shift from network donated time to purchased time.

Chapter 10: Video Violence  in  

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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  in  

Book Chapter

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.

Chapter 12: Religious Television and American Culture  in  

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A major concern at one time was the political influence that religious programs have in the society. Research has shown that this influence is not very large, certainly not as large as that attributed to it by the news media. Horsfield looks in particular at Jerry Falwell and the Moral Majority.

Chapter 13: The Future of Current Trends  in  

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The auidience for paid-time religious programming reached a plateau in 1977, and has not changed significantly since. Religious television is thus not a universal model for religious faith. It is more of a specialized programming for a specialized audience.

Chapter 2: Idols and the Word  in  

Book Chapter

The text that encloses the truth of the Word of God is never so exact that it only bears repeating. This text invites me to retell the myth, and the recreated myth calls me to listen to the ultimate, absolute Word. The Word obliges me to speak implying that the text should never be fixed, reduced to structures, enclosed within itself, or understood as if it were an exact and precise mathematical formula. No valid semiotic diagram exists that can exhaust the text that is a metaphor for the Word of God. Such a text must be spoken rather than dissected.

Chapter 2: The Making of the Monopoly  in  

Book Chapter

Four main players in the growth of religious television are examined: the FCC, the television industry, the viewing public, and the religious broadcasters, including their use of sophisticated computer technology to "answer" mail and solicit funds.

Chapter 3: The Electronic Evangelists  in  

Book Chapter

Analysis of specific television evangelists including Oral Roberts, Jerry Falwell, Robert Schuller, Pat Robertson and CBN, all of whom had humble beginnings. Horsfield reviews their charisma, drive, planning, and in particular their marketing techniques.

Chapter 4: How Culture Shapes Our Meanings  in  

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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 4: Religious Programs and Television Culture  in  

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Television's social functions. TV has exerted a strong censoring effect on the portrayal of religion. The author considers the dangers of TV's tendencies toward over simplification, instant gratification, and sensationalism, and concludes that when religious buys into the TV culture, it runs the risk of distorting not only life, but also religious faith.

Chapter 5: The Struggle within the Churches  in  

Book Chapter

The author examines the debate in the church over the growth of paid-time religious programs which has centered on several major issues, including the nature of the church, its mission, evangelism, pastoral care and counseling, and the social and political impact, and also the communication aspects: one way versus interactive communication. He concludes with some theological perspectives on the issues.

Chapter 5: Worldviews in Conflict  in  

Book Chapter

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  in  

Book Chapter

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 8: Television News — Who’s in Control?  in  

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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  in  

Book Chapter

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 Eight: Media Violence is Hazardous to Your Health  in  

Book Chapter

An analysis of hundreds of laboratory studies shows conclusively that there is a causal relationship between viewing violence on television and subsequent aggressive behavior. Fieldwork and longitudinal studies confirm the findings. We are faced with a mental pollution that is as dangerous as our physical pollution.

Chapter Eleven: U.S. Media: The Whole World is Watching<  in  

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Media represent a new form of colonialism. The United States insists on "freeflow of information" world-wide, which really means giving the fox the freedom of the chicken coop. Three guiding ethical principals are suggested, including allowing Third World nations to develop their own self-reliance in news, information, and entertainment, progressing at a rate and in a manner appropriate to their needs rather than in conformity to the marketplace needs of the industrialized nations.

Chapter Five: The Electronic Church and Its Message  in  

Book Chapter

The Electronic Church in historical perspective: the Great Awakenings. The early stages of the Electronic Church and its rapid growth in the 1970s. An analysis and critique of the Electronic Church -- its message, audience, finances and politics.

Chapter Four: Television’s Mythic World  in  

Book Chapter

The central myths of the media worldview, contrasted with the worldview of Christianity. Clearly we find ourselves living in a society which through its most powerful medium communicates a set of values, assumptions, and worldview which are completely at odds with the religious values, assumptions and worldview professed by more than 70% of its citizens.

Chapter Nine: What We Can Do About Media Violence  in  

Book Chapter

Violence and sexual violence in the media must be reduced. The important thing to stress is to attain this goal without depriving those in the media of the means of livelihood or of the rewards which are justly theirs, and without depriving citizens of their First Amendment guarantee of freedom of speech. The author suggests public policy actions regarding the regulation of TV, cable, and videocassettes.

Chapter Six: The Electronic Church and Its Audience  in  

Book Chapter

Extensive research shows that the electronic church has accurately diagnosed the spiritual hunger of millions of people who are reacting intuitively against the inhuman and unchristian worldview of our media culture. However, research also shows that the Electronic Church separates people from their own communities, and is not effective evangelism. Further, it has become captive to the commercial broadcasting system and its demands, and the values implicit in most of its programs are actually the values of the secular society it pretends to reject.

Chapter Ten: How to Bust the Communication Trust  in  

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The basic question the First Amendment raises is: To what extent are we willing to give up the value of absolute freedom of expression in order to protect society from expressions which might destroy other values in our society, or the society itself? When we face economic restraint on free speech, something like antitrust laws in communication are necessary. The author suggests three strategies for keeping the mass media open to diverse views.

Chapter Three: A Theology of Communication  in  

Book Chapter

Communication in its most universal terms must be understood as a basic constituent of the process of being. But we also need to examine from a Christian perspective the role communication plays as a process in our experience as social and political beings. For Christians, the aim of communication is to help people interpret their existence in the light of what God has done for them as manifest in Jesus Christ.

Chapter Twelve: Signs of Hope  in  

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We may have underestimated the continuing influence of those traditional institutions which have managed to survive without the benefit of the mass media for many years and which continue to transfer cultural values -- the family, home, community, school, church, fraternal organizations, and others. If religion alone cannot move with power and authority to bring about the changes necessary, it can at least whisper subversion and at the same time hold the vision of a free and open democracy high for those able to see it.

Christian Megastar

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When it emerged in the 1980s, the Irish rock group U2, with its lead singer Bono, displayed a spiritual passion that countered the big-haired, “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” synthesizer pop of that era. The band was sincere and idealistic, and its lyrics sidestepped the standard topics of sex, parties and relationships. The band consciously …

Communications Technologies and the Ethics of Access

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The ministry of communications in Prague is located in an oppressive building that, until an uncomfortably short time ago, housed the chief bureaucrats of the Czechoslovakian Communist party. Communications minister Frantisek Hesoun moved into an office there, and during our recent meeting about the possibilities of collaborative development of new communication technologies, he handed me …

Conclusion: Which is to Be Master?  in  

Book Chapter

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.

Cyberwalden

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Summary: Cyberspace is a new field for old dreams. It is the latest meeting place for both doing things together and trying to figure out, as we never cease to do, where we really are. Where the word comes from will help us to understand where we might be going with it.   Norbert Wiener, …

Going Digital

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The rise of the Internet’s World Wide Web in the mid-1990s launched an unlikely hero into the media spotlight: Johann Gutenberg, the 15th-century inventor of movable printing type and technological forefather of the vernacular Bible. Reporters, Internet columnists and even some scholars began parading Gutenberg before the public as a kind of poster child for …

Interactive Technologies: The Potential for Solidarity in Local and Global Networks

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Exploring exactly what is meant in different situations by the concept of interaction is a high-priority task for communication scholars.(1)    Everett M. Rogers, 1986  The eminent scholar Everett Rogers has commented that we are at an "epistemological turning point" in communication analysis. He adds: "Driving this epistemological revolution in communication science is the interactivity of …

Introduction  in  

Book Chapter

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.

Lost in the Digital Cosmos

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Writer Jon Katz recently said that news coverage of the Internet lurches "from one extreme to the other." Either the Net is "a dread menace or it’s a Utopian vision." Journalism, he concluded, "has been asleep at the switches," because the Net is "not simply a story about technology, but it’s a revolutionary change in …

Managing Appearances

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  The concern of public relations professionals, advertisers, and politicians with image and appearance as an instrument for persuading people about important matters in the real world of events and decisions is matched by the growing scholarly and intellectual interest in signs and symbols as makers, not merely conveyers, of the world we live in. …

Mass Media and Ministry

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When one talks about the relationship between mass media and religion in our Australian society today, two topics generally arise. One is the lament about the number of people who no longer come to church because they’re too busy watching television or their videos, particularly during the cricket tests or popular drama series on television. …

Match Point to the Media

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I want to tell a little story about the media and the president. Mostly about the media. Teddy Kennedy does not appear in this story. It begins on December 7, 1978, when a young man named Jim Fallows delivered a public lecture at Indiana University. Mr. Fallows was not then known to most of his …

Media Dominance

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In the early 16th century, Martin Luther, assisted by enterprising printers unhandicapped by copyright laws, swamped the market with five pamphlets for every one put out by his Catholic opponents. Other Protestant writers poured out their own flood of sermons, treatises, polemics and devotional writings. For more than three decades Protestants dominated the recently invented …

No Miracles from the Media

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The old-time street-corner evangelist hardly ever shows up in the mass media anymore. If he does, it’s as a figure of ridicule. And that’s unfortunate, because he symbolizes both what the media most desperately try to accomplish and how they most dismally fail — especially in evangelism. When I first started working at a radio …

Preface  in  

Book Chapter

The church indulges our desire to "feel good" instead of responding to our need to be spiritually challenged and fed through solid exposition of the Scriptures. The electronic church in particular panders to our appetite for entertainment rather than authentic discipleship and maturity. The following chapters make this abundantly clear. Each chapter is a gem by itself, therefore there is an entire collection of wisdom here.

Preface  in  

Book Chapter

The author sets the stage for his examination of religious television in America. The issues involved and questions to be answered.

Religion and the Media

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In the New Era of Religious Communication, Pierre Babin offers a striking contrast of world-views which helps to indicate the potential which TV and other media may have to affect our religiousness. To begin with Babin introduces us to the practice among some indian tribes living in the Canadian wilderness, of plugging their children’s nostrils …

Soul-Saving via Video

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It has been estimated that Jesus Christ preached to no more than 20 to 30 thousand persons during his lifetime. Even if this total is underestimated, the number is trifling in contrast to the audiences reached today by his disciples who utilize the airwaves. Many ministers, perhaps scores, speak to significantly more people every time …

Television and Religion: The Shaping of Faith, Values and Culture

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ENTIRE BOOK An examination of the values and cultural significance of secular television, and the role of mass media in shaping our lives. The author provides a theology of communication, a critique of the Electronic Church, and concludes with practical suggestions for those who are concerned about the impact of American television worldwide.

The Humiliation of the Word

Book

(ENTIRE BOOK) We are addicted to images, a wholesale abuse of language, a dangerous addiction to surface trivia, a fixation on the unimportant, an obsession with the insignificant. Ellul’s solution is to discover a "new language." It is the only way understanding can begin to flow again, so that we can communicate the gospel in such a way that it "penetrates."

The Pseudo-Content of the Processed Image

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With the rapid march of digitization, fiber-optics and satellite distribution systems, all media are becoming electronic. Because of its early history of identification with voice and picture formats, the broadcast style of electronics, particularly television, with its concern for telling images, will enlarge its domination of all communication content, whatever the physical means of distribution. …

The Sacrament of Civilization: The Groundwork of a Philosophy of Technology for Theology

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The technologies we create and the cultures in which they are embedded are strikingly similar. The Western expansion and frontier mentality finds its expression in the constable where large caravans of families would move together to find a new home in new land. The clock which arose out of monasteries fit in perfectly with regimented …