I want to take five minutes and say how much I am enjoying the Religion & Media class I am teaching with my colleague from Luther, Mary Hess. I am learning so much, and really, really enjoying the conversation--the students are great!
What I am most appreciating is the way we are discussing deeply how theology can engage the symbols and stories of contemporary culture, which are inseparable from media technologies, and how important it is for theology to engage people where they are, and proclaim the message of the gospel in language they understand. [Thank you, Tillich!]
For example, remember this cute commercial from Super Bowl 2011? Mary led us through a theological reflection exercise that ended with us making connections between the commercial and stories from the Bible. Surprisingly, I found that, for me, the sense of wonder and amazement the father creates for his child called to mind the stories of Zachaeus, the Emmaus Road, and Peter walking on the water--the "pinch me, I can't believe this is happening" accounts of transformative encounters with Jesus. Who knew?
Mary reminded us [quoting her colleague, Chris Scharen] that it really isn't helpful to try and draw a dark, thick line between the sacred and the secular: for example, calling something "Christian" music immediately sends the message that any song that doesn't mention Jesus Christ explicitly is devoid of theological content and therefore unworthy of Christian reflection. This doesn't help a church trying to remain a relevant voice of hope, love and joy in an increasingly cacophonic world. Instead, we can and should open our eyes and ears more widely, keeping our hearts open to the marvelous and varied ways God chooses to reveal Godself to us--maybe even in an ad with a mini Darth Vadar wanna-be.
And, it's only Day Two--I can't wait to see what the rest of the days will bring!