Thursday, January 17, 2008

Ok, so after the previous post, your probably want to know what the debate was about. I am in Palladino's American Pop Culture class and we are reading Neil Postman's book Amusing Ourselves to Death. It is a fascinating discussion on the erosion of our minds with the rise of show business. The 3rd and 4th chapters are on the age of typography. People used to be able to listen to discourses lasting 3 or more hours. Speeches were often purely written text.

"This language is pure print. That the occasion required it to be spoken aloud cannot obscure that fact. And that that audience was able to process it through the ear is remarkable only to people whose culture no longer resonates powerfully with the printed word." (p. 49)

The Lincoln-Douglas debates lasted for hours but people payed attention and understood.

"It is hard to imagine the present occupant of the White House being capable of constructing such clauses in similar circumstances. And if he were, he would surely do so at the risk of burdening the comprehension or concentration of his audience. People of a television culture need "plain language" both aurally and visually, and will even go o far as to require it in some circumstances by law. The Gettysburg Address would probably have been largely incomprehensible to a 1985 audience." (p. 46)

After bemoaning the loss of reason, I began to think about education. In our education courses, we learn about these "new" methods of teaching children. These methods are apparently better. Children "need" visuals. Children "need" hands-on activities. Do children really need these or is this our response to pop culture and the age of technology? Just as I don't believe the human has changed in their desire for amusement and entertainment although the methods of entertainment have changed, I don't think children have necessarily changed. It may appear that they have changed, but is it merely because the media and our culture is dictating how we think we learn now. What if we raised children on deep literature without pictures? What if they actually had to use their brains to make sense of what they are reading without the aid of power points and diagrams? (I would be at a total loss... I'm a victim of my culture.. hahaha)

Beyond the realm of education, what about church and religion. Is it somehow a lack of faith in God that makes churches use various forms of entertainment to bring young people in? The argument that in order to reach the culture, we have to use the culture seems plausible except for the fact that it seems then that the media is more powerful than God. If God can't save because there are no puppets and drama skits in church, what kind of God is He? On the other side, the expository preaching of Reformed Baptists preachers today is not written sermons such that Jonathan Edwards or Whitfield preached. Where do you draw the line and justify certain changes to reach the culture while not making the excuse of pop culture. I heard someone say to me that the old method of preaching is outdated and is proven not to work anymore. Oh really? Or have we allowed the media to become our excuse for not using our brains? Take praise songs for example. We had a hymn sing today and someone asked what a certain word meant and the comment was brought up on the deep language of the hymns. Imagine that! You have to think about a hymn instead of repeat the same three words 10 times! How absolutely archaic. However, the reality of pop culture and the media exists. How you deal with it is the key issue.

What do you think?

1 comment:

oldgreybeard said...

Duh well yuh no I tink dat we otter learn kids to think so that, like, ya no, they can sorta unnerstand all that deep stuff in those Reformed Babdis sermons.