In a society that is finding itself not merely being divided but being transformed by this division, many are beginning to recognize the influence of media and communication in that transformation. If a person remains undiscerning, the propensity to be manipulated by inaccurate or partiality based information is increased. Recognizing this, men have come together to formulate the Reclaiming the Christian Intellectual Tradition series.
According to David Dockery, recognizing the need to engage with serious thinking, the series provides an “overview of the distinctive way the church has read the Bible, formulated doctrine, provided education, and engaged culture.” To that end, author Read Mercer Schuchardt addresses the issue of media, journalism, and communication by writing a very brief book addressing the following:
The importance of media
Addressing media and communication through a Christian worldview
Theological implication of media*
With some discussion questions at the end, Media, Journalism, and Communication: A Student’s Guide is meant to cause deep analysis not merely about the content we engage with, but the medium by which we engage them.
Permeated with statistics and research, readers will be confronted with the realities of technological use and convicted by the consideration of his or her own personal use. The author’s infiltration of background information, particularly in the opening chapters is a bit stunning. Early on, while defining key terms such as media and communication, he also brings in information about the development of the school system. This discussion sets the basis for chapter one and in doing so he reveals the mindset behind our current system. Pieces like this make the read interesting and leave readers asking the question, “Why wasn’t this taught earlier?”
Despite these informative tidbits though, many will find this read burdensome, especially the targeted audience of students (and those associated with colleges and universities). The author’s rationalization and lack of clarity make the book hard to read. Readers are forced to apply long and precise definitions whenever the keywords are used and to fill in connectors from one point to another in order to follow to the author’s conclusion.
Additionally, I find the author a bit misleading in the application of statistics. At varying points, the author uses a lot of numbers to convey the significance of his points. However, the usage of the numbers and interpretation of them is done in a way that skews a bit of what they represent. For example, such a misuse is seen when the author tallies up the amount of money a person spends on technology versus the tithe that he or she gives. In no way would I dispute that the percentage one spends on technology versus a tithe is disproportionate. Yet, included in his calculations are whole units. For example, he includes $1300 for a MacBook Pro. First off, not all people utilize this and so costs for a general laptop may be much cheaper. Neither is its usage entirely without merit. As a missionary, I rely on my computer for ministry, not just for basic communication, but to prepare and study, to teach, to encourage, to motivate, and to equip the body of Christ, just to name a few tasks. Granted, I am narrowing in on a small piece, but only to demonstrate an example of how the author’s interpretation of the numbers is somewhat disingenuous. Neither do I want to deny the author’s premise that we need to be thoughtful in how we utilize because his point is well-taken and personally convicting.
Finally, while it seems that the book is written to force believers to think deeply about the world they are engaged in, I can’t be sure. At no fault of the author, the series itself seems to have confused its primary goal with the way in which it attempts to achieve that goal. In the prologue introducing the series as a whole, several goals seemed to be conveyed including the following:
To provide an overview of the distinctive way the church has read the Bible, formulated doctrine, provided education, and engaged the culture.
Will enable believers to see afresh how the Christian faith shapes how we live, how we think, how we write bus, how we govern society, and how we relate to one another in our churches and social structures.
Will explore how the Bible has been interpreted in the history of the church, as well as how theology has been formulated.
At the heart of this work is the challenge to prepare a generation of Christians to think Christianly, to engage the academy and the culture, and to serve the church and society.
Will seek to provide a framework to help introduce students to the great tradition of Christian thinking.
There are others not included in this list. Each goal is narrowly defined, but with so many levels of complexities that it is almost impossible for the author to accomplish all aspects being defined. This complexity combined with the shortness of the book means that according to the intentions defined, the book is incomplete.
Media, Journalism, and Communication brings forth some interesting aspects that are worth thinking about. Furthermore, the idea that Christians need to be thinking at a deeper level about its communication (and method of communication) is both needed and well-intentioned. However, the lack of direction makes for a book that is difficult to read and will cause most to simply lose interest.
*These four points are my synopsis of the chapters that make up this book.
For further information or to purchase this book, click here.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purposes of review. However, my review was not influenced in any way by the author, publisher, or anyone else associated with this book and is the result of my own reading of it.