Friday, April 29, 2011

"Fourteen dead in this Alabama neighborhood . . . now for more on Kate's dress . . ."

Not an exact quote, to be fair, but surely representative of news coverage the past couple days. James Davison Hunter addresses some of these same issues that Neil Postman previously addressed. Hunter writes:
[E]lectronic media such as the radio, television, and Internet compartmentalize the world and place its parts together in incoherent ways, as when a news report on a famine in Africa is followed by an advertisement offering pharmaceutical help for erectile dysfunction, which is then followed by the latest results of the NCAA basketball tournament in Charlotte, North Carolina; the stock market news from New York, London, Frankfurt, and Tokyo; a murder trial in Los Angeles; a trailer for a new coming-of-age movie; and so on. The format of the newspaper also compartmentalizes this way with no overarching narrative structure, but the new electronic media does it more seamlessly, rapidly, and intensely. The fictional and the real, the comical and the serious, the insignificant and the significant, all blend together flattening out the distinctions among them. The net effect is that all content is trivialized (p. 209).
Sadly, far too often our churches are similarly guilty. I suspect it wouldn't take a great deal of effort to start a nice list.

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