Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Media?

By Fr. Christopher Metropulos
Come Receive the Light Orthodox Christian Radio Program

“One-third of all households claim to have a home theater system (32%). Satellite television programming - with hundreds of channels for consumers to choose from - is used by nearly 50% more households now than three years ago (from 19% in 2000 to 28% in 2003). (In comparison, about seven out of 10 Americans receive television programming via cable.) Now part of mainstream technology, the vast majority of Americans (69%) owns DVD, satellite, or home theater technology. (Barna Research Group, April 2003)

We live increasingly in a media-dominated society. Some have suggested that as we’ve become more of a media dominated culture, our literacy and our ability to think critically has been eroded. It is popular today to refer to America as a nation of “mind-numbed” robots who are “entertaining ourselves to death.”

But this is not the only way we can look at the explosion of media technology. Media and technology are tools that can be used wrongly, for gluttony and debauchery – or rightly, to give the gift of God to us. It is the users that bear moral responsibility, not the tools themselves. We certainly are not going to revert to a simpler time when these media tools didn’t dominate our lives. There is no retreat to the days of “Little House on the Prairie,” as much as we might wistfully seek to return to those simpler days. “My Three Sons” has given way to “MySpace.Com.”

So, will we curse the darkness or light a candle?

I believe that media can be used for good if the good have the courage to harness the power of media for good. I don’t mean that we should somehow “compete” with the shallow, Hollywood mentality that rules our day, but we can take the tools that are being used to shape our children for perdition, and use those same tools to shape them for heaven, so they can hear another voice calling them back to the faith.

Radio, TV, the Internet, and religious books and publications are already being used by religious organizations to offer Americans a faith-based view of life. But, is this religious view well rounded and filled with the ancient wisdom of the undivided Church? It certainly should be, but where is the Orthodox faith in all this religious discussion? Where are the Orthodox Christian commentators on CNN, Fox News, NBC, ABC, and CBS? When was the last time you saw an Orthodox Christian priest being asked about the situation in the Middle East; or an Orthodox commentator giving the Orthodox perspective on same-sex marriages, or end of life issues, or any other moral dilemma of our day?

Do we have nothing to say? Do we have nothing to offer?

Here are three perspectives on the use of media by our Orthodox Church:

First, Media is a Tool. Just like other tools of communication used through the centuries – like books, and paintings and story telling - modern media is a tool to help us communicate the timeless truths of the faith. And to use a tool effectively you have to know how to use it well. That means we need Orthodox Christians to study communications and media and become proficient in these modern technologies so we can communicate to a culture that is saturated by media.

Second, Media is not THE answer. Media is a tool, but it is just a tool. In other words, our task of communication doesn’t stop with our using media. Our parishes need to learn how to welcome new people, and welcome back those who have been away for a while. We must become people familiar with outreach and sharing our faith with the surrounding community. We can have the best media tools available to us, but if we are unable to move beyond the mass-media introduction to our faith to person-to-person sharing our faith, we will short-circuit the benefits of media.

Finally, Media is unavoidable. Our children already play video games, go to the movies, listen to radio, and watch TV. Advertisers will spend 200 billion dollars this year on media advertising. We will average watching 8 hours of TV a day. Media is here and there is a whole generation that is more familiar with the Internet than with the classic books of Western civilization. The internet is fast becoming the media of choice for the teenagers of our day.

Now what? Now, we make a tough decision. We now choose to invest in making sure there is an Orthodox witness in the media. That means valuing our faith and what our faith has to offer to the point that we pay the price to include our faith in the mass-media community of ideas. That means we invest in radio programs. We develop and distribute TV programming. We work to use the Internet to share our faith, and we publish books that are readable and attractive to our culture.

In other words, we work hard to use media as well as we would use any tool to communicate the life-changing message of Orthodoxy to our nation. We don’t try to do eternal things on the cheap, but we insist on excellence and we are willing to fund these good works.

This week Fr. Deacon George Taweel, the founder of TLC Entertainment in Hollywood , CA , joins Emmy and me as we discuss just how we Orthodox Christians can use media as a tool to share the faith of the Fathers with America .

Yours for the spread of Holy Orthodoxy,

Fr. Chris Metropulos

P.S. Did you know that your financial contribution to OCN just might be worth double the amount? Check out the News section in this week’s newsletter to learn more. Email me at mailto:frchris@receive.org to share your thoughts!

(Posting date 22 August 2006. Weekly Newsletter of the Orthodox Christian Radio Network, 12 July 2006.

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