“Christianity is a demanding and serious religion. When it is delivered as easy and amusing, it is another kind of religion altogether.” —Neil Postman
The second annual Echo Church Media Conference is underway this week in Dallas. I was there last year and had a great time. I really like the folks who make Echo happen and from the presenters to the participants, I consider many of these people friends.
But I’m a little concerned.
While I appreciate the nobility of Echo’s intent—”A conference for church leaders that love using media, technology, and the Internet to be more effective in sharing God’s story”—I’m concerned about the premise.
Lovers of media, technology and the Internet are not necessarily the first people I would go to hear or see more about the greatest love story of all time.
My concern is that what we love is getting blurred with who we love.
Gatherings like Echo should be first and foremost fixated on the who of the story. We need storytellers that love the story. Artists who love their creator.
My hunch is that Echo–and conferences like it–assume this about their audience. After all, why would a bunch of people come to an event like this if we didn’t believe in the story we’re telling?
This same logic would also assume that the people who make movies and music would all be lovers of the stories they are telling through their art.
I don’t think so.
The late Neil Postman, in his 1984 book Amusing Ourselves to Death, says “The danger is not that religion has become the content of [television] but that [television] may become the content of religion.” His words echo loud and clear 25 years later.
Postman continues: “[One example is that] on television, religion, like everything else, is presented, quite simply and without apology, as an entertainment. Everything that makes religion an historic, profound and sacred human activity is stripped away; there is no ritual, no dogma, no tradition, no theology, and above all, no sense of spiritual transcendence. God comes out as second banana.”
If we can’t say that, we have no business loving Photoshop, Final Cut or Faith Highway.