The medium is the message” is a phrase coined by Marshall McLuhan meaning that the form of a medium embeds itself in the message, creating a symbiotic relationship by which the medium influences how the message is perceived.
For McLuhan, it was the medium itself that shaped and controlled “the scale and form of human association and action”. Taking the movie as an example, he argued that the way this medium played with conceptions of speed and time transformed “the world of sequence and connections into the world of creative configuration and structure. “Therefore the message of the movie medium is this transition from “lineal connections” to “configurations”.
Extending the argument for understanding the medium as the message itself, he proposed that the “content of any medium is always another medium” – thus, the content of writing is speech, print is that of writing and print itself is the content of the telegraph.
McLuhan understood “medium” in a broad sense. He identified the light bulb as a clear demonstration of the concept of “the medium is the message”. A light bulb does not have content in the way that a newspaper has articles or a television has programs, yet it is a medium that has a social effect; that is, a light bulb enables people to create spaces during nighttime that would otherwise be enveloped by darkness. He describes the light bulb as a medium without any content. McLuhan states that “a light bulb creates an environment by its mere presence.”
Likewise, the message of a newscast about a heinous crime may be less about the individual news story itself — the content — and more about the change in public attitude towards crime that the newscast engenders by the fact that such crimes are in effect being brought into the home to watch over dinner.
Hence in Understanding Media, McLuhan describes the “content” of a medium as a juicy piece of meat carried by the burglar to distract the watchdog of the mind. This means that people tend to focus on the obvious, which is the content, to provide us valuable information, but in the process, we largely miss the structural changes in our affairs that are introduced subtly, or over long periods of time. As society’s values, norms, and ways of doing things change because of the technology, it is then we realize the social implications of the medium. These range from cultural or religious issues and historical precedents, through interplay with existing conditions, to the secondary or tertiary effects in a cascade of interactions that we are not aware of.
Hence, for a long time the Western world and it’s way of doing church, has largely been structured on a certain type of medium. A detached system of listening, and hearing. Where it is not so much our responsibility to do, but more so to know. We have traded imitation (made in my image) for knowledge (the tree in the garden). We have lost the ability to engage with our Creator, because we have filled our minds with concepts and knowledge based more so on interpretation than experience.
McLuhan stated that a “light bulb creates a environment by its mere presence.”Yet, I realize this is not the only medium, yet it should be a big one. We have become so engrained in words and theology, that we have become numb to the needs around us. We focus on personal bible study and group bible studies, yet, seldom do we engage with those outside the church. Part of this disconnect is wrong knowledge. ..to be in the world, but not of it. This idea is not to be hidden, but to be as the light bulb, and our mere presence illuminates the world and it’s darkness.This engagement goes beyond information, it is not convincing others that Jesus exists by influence through reason and logic, but tangibly expressing that we are the person of the kingdom in the here and now. The Bible’s purpose does not exists so we can master it, but so it can master us.The image bearers take a message of hope, a world transforming message, and demonstrate this in the very loving way that it was shown to us.
The problem is, many in the West, have only had a mere taste of what the kingdom looks like, our minds however, are loaded with information, that too often causes us to be judgmental than loving. The world transforming message is not a knowledge of Jesus, but that peace with God and joy for all was manifested in a crucifixion. A dying to oneself…as Jesus said, “I give my life freely.” We think that by knowing more about him, we are somehow living a life that reflects him. He says, follow me, take up your cross…not an implication of death in the physical sense, but death in the spiritual. Taking up your cross is becoming selfless, not selfish…and information and bible studies are more about you and less about him. Your understanding of him, your knowledge of him are overloaded in information, instead of him ridding you of yourself all together and making you him. As the Bible says, “little Christ’s.”
Let’s rethink how we are doing things, ——-#rethinkchurch #hackchurch