In this post in Out of Ur, Shane Hipps is interviewed on subject of the hidden power of visual media by the folks at Faith Visuals. While I don’t agree with all of his points I find the subject intriguing and one that those in the church technology / visual arts need to be aware of.
I am reminded of the famous statement by Marshall McLuhan that “the medium is the message” in which he puts forth the notion that the form is more important than the content and in fact is the message. Certainly the medium (form) of the message is extremely important and can even influence the degree, strength and type of response that the recipient gives in response, but I believe there are two problems with this argument.
First – It assumes that the person receiving the message has no control over their response. The notion seems to be that if the medium is powerful enough, the viewer will feel strong emotions about it and will involuntarily make irrational choices.
Second – The visual sense, while powerful, I don’t believe should be held in captivity to the others (hearing, touch, smell, taste). Did not God create us with all five senses? Did not Jesus himself come to earth to be seen and heard before dying on the cross? Did he not speak to the people in parables and use mind-pictures to communicate his message?
I believe those who create video messages and graphical images have the same responsibility as those who create messages which are only spoken and heard. They must each understand the details of their medium and know the strength and weakness of each and how it can be misused. However, that should not stop the church from proclaiming the Gospel to all people and fulfilling the Great Commission. Christ’s commission to us did not say to only preach the Gospel in written form or only in speech. I believe we need to do so in all languages and in all forms of media. Anything less would be irresponsible.(Hat tip to Andy at Think Christian)
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