News fascinates me, and I check headlines all through the day (and sometimes night). It’s 10:46 on Saturday morning, and I click on CNN:
• Outbreak fears in flood-hit Mexico
• Solar wing fixed
• Missing teacher, student found in Mexico
• Sketches released of girl stuffed in box
• Iraq plans action against Kurdish rebels
• Man sues over loss of penis
• Couples say “I do” to green weddings
• Evidence in Nowak case thrown out
• Nancy Grace has emotional breaking news
• Talking Jesus doll stirs debate
• Obama: Cheney is “crazy uncle in attic”
• A-Rod wanted $350 million extension
• Seinfeld rips into Larry King
I would argue that three of those thirteen headlines are actual news items. What do you think?
In January, T. David Gordon (religion and philosophy professor at Grove City College) returns to Westminster for a weekend to introduce us to media ecology. Official title – Christ, Media and the Humane Environment: An Introduction to Media Ecology.
Course description: This conference explores how different media (orality, handwriting, printed type, images, and various electronic media) shape individuals and cultures differently, and why. Every particular medium not only carries a message/value, but shapes the message/value it carries, and shapes those who receive the message/value. How do we wish to be shaped? If God creates/shapes us for certain purposes, which media will assist in shaping us in accord with those purposes?
I: Biblical Foundations
A. Romans 12:1-2--Conformed or Transformed?
B. Genesis 1-2--Cultivating God’s Image and God’s Garden
C. Prohibition of Images in Decalogue: Monotheism Needs Language
D. The Present Challenge: Understanding How Our Media-Saturated Environment Either Contributes to or Detracts from Our Task as Cultivators
II: How We Know Shapes What We Know and What We Become
A. Overview of Media
1. Orality: The Primary Medium.
2. Chirography (handwriting).
3. Typography and Reading. Gutenberg
4. Photographic Media. Mass-produced images.
5. Electronic media and mass media (telegraph was electric but not mass)
B. Senses, Sensoria and Sensibilities.
C. The Medium is the Message (McLuhan) or the Metaphor (Postman) or the Environment (Gitlin)
III: Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Television.
New York : Viking, 1985, Neil Postman
A. The Typographic Era.
B. The Television Era
IV: How the News Makes Us Dumb
A. Walter Lippmann. Public Opinion (1922).
B. Daniel Boorstin. The Image: A Guide to Psuedo-Events in America.
C. C. John Sommerville on How the News Makes us Dumb: The Death of Wisdom in an Information Society.
Gotta go, someone has to check up on that Talking Jesus Doll...