Friday, June 26, 2009

Media and Our Capacity for Humility

A fool does not delight in understanding,
But only in revealing his own mind
(Prov 18:2)

In the previous post regarding holiness and modern media, I contended that we hinder our walk with Christ if we use modern media uncritically and naively. In the posts to follow, I hope to demonstrate how capacities inherent to faithful Christian discipleship are endangered by an unthinking embrace of media. We want to follow this by examining Ephesians 5:15-17 and its application to the media world, and finally conclude with a few practical suggestions on how Christians might use modern media with wisdom and discernment.

The first capacity endangered by media, particularly that of the published and communication variety, is a properly humble self-awareness. The Christian is called to "all humility" (Eph 4:2), in view of God's sovereign grace (cf. Eph 2:8-10), and to remember "he is nothing," so that he is not hindered in the need to "bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ" (Gal 6:2-3). Yet, cultivating humility is certainly not the focus of media.

Via such venues as blogs (go ahead, chuckle at the apparent hypocrisy!), texts, Facebook, and Twitter, we have the historically unprecedented ability to instantly update and broadcast our perceptions, criticisms, and experiences to a mass audience. Though this potential may come with a price... foolishly believing that sharing our own mind is really that important.

William Deresiewicz, in his article, "The End of Solitude," made a similar observation:
The goal now, it seems, is simply to become known, to turn oneself into a sort of miniature celebrity. How many friends do I have on Facebook? How many people are reading my blog? How many Google hits does my name generate? Visibility secures our self-esteem, becoming a substitute, twice removed, for genuine connection.
Nicholas Carr, addressing Twitter in particular, is even more direct:
Twitter is the telegraph of Narcissus. Not only are you the star of the show, but everything that happens to you, no matter how trifling, is a headline, a media event, a stop-the-presses bulletin.
Reflecting universal and total depravity, narcissism is unavoidable as a cultural phenomenon. But for Christians it is inexcusable, because it unsettles the foundation of the Gospel itself:
...the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption,so that, just as it is written, 'LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD' (1 Cor 1:28-31)
The reality, however painful it may be to admit, is that our thoughts and experiences are terribly unimportant (Take a minute and let that one soak in... I know it stings a bit). If His Word is inestimable (e.g., Ps 119:127) and our words are negligible at best, which should be the focus of our contemplation and communication?


  1. In my humble opinion, a great post. Thanks, Steve.

    Yet, I think someone could tweet while keeping in mind the "unimportance" of their thoughts. Isn't there some responsibility here for the reader to discern what is and is not important?

  2. John Piper on Twitter:

    "I find Twitter to be a kind of taunt: 'Okay, truth-lover, see what you can do with 140 characters! You say your mission is to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things! Well, this is one of those ‘all things.’ Can you magnify Christ with this thimble-full of letters?'"

    See Why and How I Am Tweeting