Truth is about people, information is about things
Most of us who are working in the field of communication – authors, publishers, editors, booksellers, magazine directors, and many more – don’t need to wake up to the fact that a lot is changing in their field. It’s a truism. The new media are here to stay, indeed probably to explode in new developments, and the old trades are in serious danger, in a way they have not been since the revolution of the printing press with Gutenberg in the 15th century. We are living in intriguing times. Not only are most of us in the professional field of media aware of this, but even the avarage reader feels the impact, and becomes involved in various ways. What does not generally come with this awareness, is the measure of impact of this media revolution. It’s not just about blogs, twitter, nings, e-books, tablets, apps and more. We’re not only talking about digital technique. In fact, we need to give a great deal of attention not just to the changing forms of media, but we have to be keenly aware that it cannot but affect the communication itself, either positively or negatively. Jesus made this point in His discussion with religious leaders, after He had forgiven an adulterous woman (John 8). What they did, was making judgments in a human way. This trembling sinner was about to be stoned, when our Lord protected her – interestingly, by the way of media: writing. The religious leader saw her as an abstraction, an object of ethical or theological discussions. Jesus saw a real human being, and His love went out to her. He spoke the truth, did not hesitate to speak strongly in terms of sin, and encouragingly in terms of the Light and following Him. But she was a real, precious person to her. Information is about things. More and more of information is channeled through the internet, and that is excellent. But meaningful truth is more, and it cannot be delegated fully to just the new media. Truth is about people, ultimately – and God (or at least our view of Him) is involved. In the new media, we are able to get closer to the real person. No longer is the distinction so sharp between broadcasting and narrowcasting. But the danger is also that, being able to sharpen our marketing tools through them, we construct a virtual reader, or a virtual customer. Instead, we should endeavour to consistently approach people with the truth for what they are: God’s beautiful, unique creation. A great example is in the Pixar movies, as Robert Velarde shows in his recent book THE WISDOM OF PIXAR – how even (like in CARS) simple technical toys come alive as human beings, manifesting bits and pieces of divine wisdom. As Christians, we have the privilege to communicate truth. Let’s find creative ways for that.
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