Tuesday, February 12

Book Review: Infinite Bandwidth; Encountering Christ in the Media

"We need a clear guide for how to understand and use media. We all need help navigating our way through this beeping, pinging, ringing, wired we of ours." (pg 2) and so began my journey into Infinite Bandwidth: Encountering Christ in the Media by Eugene Gan.

I received this book to review quite awhile ago and I'm so glad I've had the opportunity to not just read it once but twice.  As I was perusing the list of books to choose, this one popped out at me as it's such a struggle an adult seeking to make good media choices and more so as parents to help our children discern the media before them.  I admit that we, as Christians, need help negotiating our way through these forms of media and thankfully the Catholic Church has given us tools to help us to do so. I had no idea that the Church had much to say about Facebook, Xbox and twitter. In his book, Infinite Bandwidth: Encountering Christ through the Media, Dr. Eugene Gan offers us tools that teach us how to wade through all the choices and make good ones.  He unpacks what the Church has written through the 60+ documents on social communication and shows us the 7 principles, what he calls the 7 keys, that can become our guide for blogging, texting, movie watching and video game playing.  While the church does not mention those forms of media specifically, it does show us broadly through guidelines and basic doctrinal principles how quickly media is changing and developing. Eugene Gan takes specific media and media applications to illustrate the principles and guidelines laid out by our Church. 

Here are the keys, as Eugene Gan illustrates through his chapters:

Attitude awareness
Dignity of the human person
Truth filled
Skillfully developed
Motivated by and relative to experience

In each of these "key" chapters, you will find current examples of media to illustrate the point.

If I had to choose a favorite chapter I suppose I'd land on the 5th key, inspiring. I found it, well, inspiring! In it Dr. Gan talks about how God uses media as a sign that points the way to Him and the way to Him is heaven! Now if that doesn't elevate your view of what media is and should be, not sure what will. I could truly quote the whole chapter, there are so many gems tucked inside it. In a document by the Congregation for Catholic Education, the Church outlines that "through media, we share in God's work of communicating love to others. It tells us that God helped man to develop media so that we could use it to inspire people to pursue virtue and a relationship with Him. Simply put, it tells us media exists to be a sign pointing the way to holiness."(pg. 85)

In the rest of the chapter, Dr. Gan uses the films, It's a Wonderful Life and Batman Begins as examples of movies that inspire us and move us to hope. In the later, he points out that while evil is still evil, in the movie, good triumphs! These examples show us that hope still exists for the fallen world. He juxtaposes these examples with a movie that won several Academy Awards, Unforgiven, with Clint Eastwood. He points out that this movie is devoid of all hope and light. It is filled with nihilism which points people in the wrong direction and leaves us only with despair. So you see, media arouses feelings in us that directly contradict what we believe to be true and right. So what does he say we should do? Turn off the tv and never watch it again? Not at all, remember we are called to be in the world but not of it!  

There are practical things we can do to help us discern what we see and hear. 
First, pray for prudence. Ah, prudence is such an amazing virtue! It helps us see the true good in every circumstance and to choose the right means of achieving it. Prudence is what guides the judgement of conscience. And with the help of this virtue, we can apply moral principles to particular cases without error and overcome doubts about the good to achieve and the evil to avoid. All of that is not my own words or thoughts but comes directly from the Cetechism of the Catholic Church, 1806 (an incredible resource I might add).

After we pray, do a little research. Read reviews, find out the target audience, watch a movie's trailers or search Internet databases like IMDB dot com for info about what we are about to watch.
Then ask questions. In each chapter, Dr. Gan outlines specific questions we can ask to help us discern what we are watching. 
Next, is integration: talk about it with a friend or spouse, practice an occasional media fast to help gain perspective and regain balance. 
Lastly, he recommends passing it on. Watch a show with your kids so you can better understand what they're viewing. Talk to them about what you just watched or used (if its a video game). Ask questions that allow them to think and see the bigger picture.

so much good stuff, every page has something underlined or starred!

Quite a task we have ahead for us all but truly God made us to be thinkers and to not just zone out and watch whatever comes on the TV or read every single news story that pops up on our screen. We need guidance for these forms of media and thankfully we have been given keys to understanding it all. Eugene Gan's book is a great beginning to helping us use media as a tool. It's important to learn how to use it properly as it is a means to encourage and share he Gospel.  When employed, these keys help us to see these forms of media "filtered through the lens of faith.  Dr. Gan warns that failure to use media as God intended us to use it will surely result in the media using us.

This review was written as part of The Catholic Company's book reviewer program. I received a copy of Infinite Bandwidth, by Eugene Gan, to review but no other compensation was awarded. All thoughts are my own opinion. Visit the Catholic Company for more great books, gifts for Sacrament celebrations and other excellent Catholic resources.

this book is no longer carried by The Catholic Company so my links will take you to Amazon to purchase it.

No comments:

Post a Comment