Pastor and theologian Johnathan Martin recently wrote a challenging blog piece about the way we watch movies, which I will comment on next week. In doing so, he makes the following observation:
I don’t think we are frankly smart enough to be open students of popular culture who are able to engage difficult content with discernment. The baseline of being able to discern popular culture in a broad, comprehensive manner is that we maintain enough detachment from the broader culture to see it what it is. Most Christians in America, quite frankly watch more than they read. And in the most broad oversimplification I’ve ever written: I don’t think you can discern media at all if you watch more than you read (and I’m not just talking about the Bible here). We are often not robust enough intellectually or formed deeply enough spiritually to even think about the higher stakes.
Martin admits that he is over-simplifying things, especially in the line that I have bolded, but I think he’s on to something. The ability to read and discern the culture that is all around us (that we are IN) requires certain skills. And I too am skeptical that we can develop those skills just by watching. Commentators have long been lamenting the inevitable changes that our evolution from a print-based to an image-based culture is producing. The hermeneutical ability that wrestling with language develops…is being lost.
Reading words in order to read culture – do you think it makes sense?
Certainly comedian Louise CK thinks we have taken our watching too far… Enjoy.