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theology and medium March 22, 2007

Posted by Cobus in Blogging and church, Emerging Church, Emerging Culture, theology.

OK, so before I even start on this one, I need to make this clear. I’m not out to get Rob Bell. I know this will be the second time in two weeks I say something critical while talking about Rob Bell, but it’s nopt against him. OK, that said…

Got thinking about this while jogging the other night (maybe I should go jog more often, then I’ll think more ofter). It’s interesting what the relation between how your theology is percieved and the medium you use to spread it is. In one of the podcasts from Emergent Village where Tony Jones and Doug Pagitt talked, they touched on this as well.

It’s been a few months since I listened to this, but here is a few thoughts which I can remember. I’m most propably misquoting them. When they started there conversation they decided not to publish any books, because a book kind of gave the impression that you had some final idea on something, and they didn’t want to say that. Later on they did start publishing.

Something else. There were people working on artsy things in the conversation, but they can present there ideas to only a few people at a time, and only to people that are physically with them. But people writing books, there ideas are much wider available, therefore they will have a wider influence.

So, we have people writing books, some in a more popular style, some in a more academic style, we have people blogging, doing podcasts, making DVD’s, and hey, whatever medium you can think of, someone is using is. But it seems like that have a distinctive influence on who is being influenced by it, and how it is percieved.

OK, so Rob Bell is the classical example at the moment. Sorry Rob, I really like your stuff, I really don’t mind people watching it, I’m just trying to make a point here. OK, so first thing is that suddenly everyone is watching Nooma DVD’s. Why? I don’t think it’s because of what he says, but more because of the medium in which it is presented.

What is also quite interesting is the different type of people who suddenly identifies with Rob Bell. People that I’m pretty sure won’t identify with the kind of theology I percieve him of presenting (although it is very difficult to really get an idea of how he thinks, since he don’t write that much, at least not as far as I know). Why do extreme evangelical guys suddenly love Rob Bell? While they would like to kill me if I say the same kind of things? Well, I guess medium.

This is just an observation. Make of it whatever you like. But we have been doing it all along. If someone writes a thick book on something, then surely she must know a lot. If someone can talk about a subject for a long time, then surely he must have done a lot of research. Maybe this is just the new thing. If someone can present something in a cool medium, without obviously stepping on our toes, then surely he has  a lot to say for our context.


1. Sue - March 26, 2007

What you observed is a psychological ‘phenomenon’ called persuasion through authority. If someone writes a thick book, as you say, or if someone well known, Rob Bell, writes or sells or says something, they believe that it is true. Persuasion through authority is used by advertisers to sell products. It uses, or misuses, peoples tendency to believe what seemingly well known or important figures say or do, as true. Just a quick observation from my side.

2. Werner - April 1, 2007

I’ve only wathced one Rob Bell DVD and I do think that I would have had the same reaction if I read it or if it was told to me. Of course the way in which it was presented on DVD was good which made me really percieve the message. It was the one where Rob tells his son that no matter what he did, he(Rob) won’t love him less. If I read it in a boring textbook I might have just dismissed it, but certianly not be against what he said. If I read it in an exciting book I think my reaction would have been the same as when seeing the DVD.

But yes I do think medium and authoroty could have people react differently, also a prophet isn’t recognised in his own land or something like that.

People that know you, but are not great friends will tend to dismiss you before knowing what you stand for. Their minds where made up before hand. Then they must defend thier stance, otherwise they were wrong and their ego’s can’t allow this.

Het jy nou al my boek gelees?

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