Ken Medema on music,travel,life.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


A reflection on a recent interview

When I was in graduate school in the late 60s, all the communication people were spouting this now famous phrase attributed to Marshall McLuhan; "The Medium is the Message". At a recent conference I heard a fine interview with author, Shane Hipps, who has written a book about the use of electronic media in the church titled Flickering Pixels. One of the questions that came out of that interview has to do with this maxim now so well known in communication circles. Everything we do, everything we wear, every means of communication we employ becomes a part of the message. To study the Bible online is not only a different experience than studying with a group, but the nature of the Bible's message is changed by the way we study it. To experience music together and to experience music alone are different, but the meaning of the music is also different.

That has made me have to think again about my own work and, in fact, about the ways we all present ourselves to the world around us. The term "avatar" has become popular again since so many people now have multiple precenses on various virtual locations. In a very important sense, everything we do in the world around us presents the message of who we are. What do I say by the clothes I wear, the grammar I use, the pace at which I walk, even the angle of my head as I meet people? How does my own use of instruments and sound textures create a message? As a Christian then, I have to ask again what is the Good News of the Gospel and are there some forms of communication which when used create a message which, if we understood it, is not the message we want to create? I am wrestling with all this again because of the interview I heard. I don't know where it will all come out, but I do suspect that we as humans tend to forget how much of a message we are sending to the world around us by every aspect of what we do, say, wear; how we move, how we prioritize, and other ways that I am not even thinking of yet.

What is your message and how does your media become that message? Are you sending a message other than the one you think you are sending? Have fun with this one.

1 comment:

  1. Of course... part of the point of the original thing was alsoabout what ways the message gets distorted.

    To prove the point, the book's title was actually, "The Medium is the Massage"