Saturday, November 08, 2003

Media studies
Spinning off of up/rooted’s last meeting, esp. the discussion of virtual reality and worship, i must voice something that I’ve been thinking for a while. Coming out of my reading in African theology (Theology and Identity) I’ve come to see the necessity of learning about “media studies” and “communication theory.” (this is coming from a guy who usually bashes things like that b/c is seems like an attempt to become “relevant.” I’m at this place b/c (summarizing Bediako),

Who are we (past) and where are we (present) intersect in the question of identity as Christians. Where we are culturally effects who we are historical, and who we are effects how we undestand where we are. The Church Father’s grappled with who they were as Christians in relation to their religious past, Judaism, and where they were culturally in Graeco-Roman world. For African Theology the question of identity it is who are we as African Christians in relationship to Mission/Western Christianity (religious past) and Traditional African religions (cultural present).

So the question for us at the end of modernity in the West is “what is our religious past?” and “where is our cultural present?” (the first question needs its own separate reflectin) The second question for African theology leads right through an understanding of Traditional African religions, but for those in the West it leads through both the “Enlightenment” as the source/lack of values and symbols, and through “media studies” b/c media enables the symbolic exchange of meaning/referencing (i.e. what religion usually does in societies.).

Therefore, it is necessary to understand how mass media (film, tv, radio, internet, etc.) effect and enable the “work” and “world” of culture in the west. This is not so that we can be “relevant” to others, but so that we can truly understand our own “identity” as follower of Christ in N. America. So if anyone is really knowledgeable in this area, let me know where to begin, who to read, and all that stuff.

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