Monthly Archives: February 2011

Why I avoided TV for a week

I was asked to try a “media fast” – no TV, radio, press, internet news or even personal talk about the news – as part of an exploration of “holiness” with our church interns. It did my head in. But there were good things – including a chance to think about why I’m so into media production, what can be good about it, and what God’s been saying to us all for a long time about living a good, faith-filled life in a difficult world. More on my Amateur Theology blog.

Holiness and working in media

We had a really interesting week in our Pip n Jay intern programme, as we invited Hugh Pratt to share about how we can be holy and loving people. We think both holiness and love must go together, as they are both in God’s nature and his purpose for us, but it seems like we often struggle to live like this.

Hugh’s challenge to us was to engage in a ‘media fast’ for a week – no TV, radio, press, internet news or even personal talk about news and current events. This produced a range of reactions, with most of us finding some benefit in the way it made us reflect on how these media are so important to us. Some found more time for building relationships, which we want to carry on doing. Others (myself included) found that relationship building felt inhibited by these boundaries, and that conversations seemed a bit stunted and weird – I find myself looking things up a lot as part of getting thoughts and ideas together. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to be part of a challenging culture, although it’s vital to know how to filter and interpret it, and make good choices about what to engage with and what to avoid.

As I’m not just a media consumer but also a producer, I have occasionally encountered Christians who go even further and demonise media as a whole, seeing it as a source of everything wrong with the world. I find it hard to contain all my disagreements with that in a sentence, not least because “the media” isn’t a person or even an organisation. You can’t blame “the media” for anything – blame people if you must, if you can decide whether producers or consumers or at fault. But media are merely containers for people’s ideas, and technology for sharing them. God gave us means of expression and the ability to choose how to do this. God wrote his ten commandments down and asked prophets to record what he said to them. That puts God in the media business. As far as I can tell, that means we can make it work for good.

Dominic Steele is an Australian pastor who founded “Christians in the Media” while working as a radio journalist. Helen and I have been to his church every time we have visited Sydney in the last few years, and we’ve been excited about what we have seen God doing there.

Today I found this talk from Dominic which sums up the difficulty lots of Christians face in lots of workplaces – not just media – and there’s a really important challenge. Who are we relying on, and being seen to rely on, for life? The story of Daniel is an amazing account of how God’s people can do life changing things in difficult circumstances if they are ready to rely on God and give him the credit for what he’s doing.

More proof that Microsoft no longer get it

Venn

For reasons you don’t want me to go into, I have to make a Venn diagram. Is Excel going to be any help?

According to Microsoft, yes! It’s easy to create overlapping circles and make them into pretty colours. The video tutorial is voiced by someone who sounds extremely proud of this, and finishes with a chipper “THAT’S how I want my Venn diagram to look!”

Except it’s extremely useless. I don’t know if anyone at Microsoft stopped to consider that Venn diagrams are supposed to mean something, not just look harmonious with your document theme.

For one thing, I need to crunch numbers and get areas and overlaps which are proportional to my data – none of that is mentioned. 

It’s not too surprising, given that the example Venn diagram is set up to show all the overlaps between birds and mammals (errr… there isn’t any) and… I’m sorry, I can’t even imagine an invertebrate amphibian mammal bird reptile even if one had ever existed. Which it didn’t.

Microsoft were the company which re-thought the world, brought the cleverest, most useful tools, and made billions in the process. When did it all become about style over function (**cough** Vista)? And if Microsoft no longer get it, who does?

Radio stations have changed a bit…

…since this one, as thought up for a BBC schools music radio programme in 1981.

Although I think 2CR FM (later Heart) in Bournemouth had a studio like this until it closed very recently! Sad to see it wasn’t needed or used for years. It begs the question, what COULD you do with radio if you really wanted to…?