My blog has moved!

You should be automatically redirected. If not, visit
and update your bookmarks.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

A Word is Worth a Thousand Pictures

It concerns me that folks, especially in the US, spend so much time looking at two-dimensional images on screens and so little time interacting verbally with texts or other humans. This is especially detrimental for small children. Many Christian parents think that television is only objectionable if the content is indecent or anti-biblical. Actually, for small children still developing neurologically, the medium is just as harmful as the messages. Scientific studies have shown that when a person views the rapidly flashing lights on a screen, it puts their brains into low gear. It's not just daytime soaps that turn your brain to mush. It's Sesame Street and religious broadcasting as well. Small children who do not experience adequate verbal interaction (talking on TV does not count), fail to develop their brains to their fullest potential. This shows up later on as inability to process written texts properly. And a reduced ability to communicate ideas coherently.

I believe it is Ken Myers in his book, "All God's Children and Blue Sueds Shoes," who argues that visual images deal with the passions. They work on one emotionally, whereas words deal with one's reason. This is extremely important for the life and mission of the Christian church. While the visual arts have always had an important role in Christendom (particularly in the East), Christianity is predominantly a word-based faith. God spoke creation into existence. His word/logos became flesh and dwelt among us. And now faith comes by hearing the message, the news, the good word. If a person knows nothing about Jesus, I can show him a painting of the crucifixion and it may move him sub-rationally, but he won't know what it means. He won't understand that we sinners are declared righteous in the sight of God on account of the oblation made by Jesus until I explain it to him...using words.

An excellent new-ish book on the subject is "The Vanishing Word: The Veneration of Visual Imagery in the Post-Modern World" by Arthur W. Hunt III. And here is a cool article to whet the appetite: "How the Bombarding Images of TV Culture Undermine the Power of Words" by Douglas R. Groothuis.

Sphere: Related Content


Anonymous said...

Wanting to acknowledge your anti-hate approach, but point out that saying homosexuality is a sin is not so far from that as you may think or intend. I suggest that a straight guy can no more understand what it is to be gay than a woman can understand what it is to be a man, or vice versa. Instead of thinking of gayness as an aberration, perhaps the question should be, what is God's purpose in making some people gay?

Many people judge gays on the supposed "lifestyle" which is largely a fiction of those not in it. Gays may be as promiscuous as young straight college kids (as a Dad, that worries me!). On the other hand, forced underground on the basis of sexuality, it is not surprising that the focus is on sex. Remove the prohibition, and the focus can be about relationship...isn't that the gift of love? Food for thought...

Pastor Scott Stiegemeyer said...

I don't quite grant your original premise. I can disapprove of a person's actions, attitudes and beliefs and still love the person very much. Let's say hypothetically that a heterosexual teenager becomes very promiscuous. As a parent, you might say that what your child is doing is morally wrong, but that is a far cry from hating him.

Some people have a sexual attraction to little children. Many of these fellows would say that they can't help it. It's not a choice. They would change if they could. They loathe themselves for being that way. Did God make them this way or is it an aberration? Some cultures would find nothing at all objectionable to pederasty. It even has its advocates in our own. Ever hear of NAMBLA? So is it merely cultural imperialism on our part to insist that it is bad? Some men find monogamy very difficult to practice. They'd say they can't help it that they are attracted to many women. They'd say monogamy is un-natural. Can we judge their behavior as wrong w/o hating them? I'd say yes.

You see, at the end of the day, we have to have some basis for determining good and evil. It can't be merely arbitrary or culturally determined. If that were the case, then how could we criticize the tribesmen of Papua New Guinea for headhunting? Or other cultures for slavery? Or caniballism? Or polygamy? Or human sacrifice? And so forth. I think we'd agree that those behaviors are objectively wrong. Why? Who says so? You? Me? Our society? What makes our society right and theirs wrong? Our culture says that all men are equal. In the 1930s, German fascism disagreed. On what grounds can anyone say that a belief/attitude/behavior or proclivity is sinful?

My answer is what Judaism, Islam and Christianity at least have always said. Divine Revelation. I realize that many don't buy this, but it is where I am coming from. I believe that there is a God and that this God has communicated His will to us through prophets and apostles down the ages. These prophets and apostles have recorded that which was revealed to them. Of course, the supreme revelation of God was in the incarnation of His Son.

I can't find it on-line right now, but last summer's issue of Touchstone magazine had a very powerful testimony of a young Episcopalian man struggling with homosexuality. I think his insights need to be heard in this particular public discourse.

Anonymous said...

Now there is gay and lesbian tv channels. Wonder just what kind of shows and movies they will put forth!Will they be rated?

New Curriculum at Concordia Theological Seminary