Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Real Four Spiritual Laws

"Advertising may be described as the science of arresting the human intelligence long enough to get money from it."
- Stephen Leacock

"Since pornogaphy always drives technology..."


Since Sports Illustrated Centerfold are real goddesses..


Since "through light projected, (the filmmaker) can see himself up close.."

and especially since McLuhan was largely right and prophetically prescient about medium/message..

It may be that the church in these days needs to memorize/internalize McLuhan's "Four Laws of Media," lore than it needs to dish out the more traditional; "Four Laws".

Shane Hipps, a helpful anabaptist interpeter of McLuhan for the church, summarizes tehm here:

The only difficulty with the four laws is that it feels a little unnatural at times. It can be hard to answer some of those questions. The point is not to get the right answers; the point is to ask the right questions. McLuhan offered four questions he believed were crucial to understanding media.

First: What does the medium enhance and extend? For instance: The wheel is an extension of the foot.

Second: What does the medium obsolesce? And "obsolesce" doesn't mean get rid of. It means change the function of. So, for example, the automobile extends our speed of transportation, but it obsolesces the horse-drawn carriage. The horse-drawn carriage doesn't disappear; it simply changes its function. It's now used for romance and entertainment, but it is still used.

Third: What does the medium retrieve from the past? This is the conviction that nothing is new under the sun. And so every new medium retrieves some older medium. For example, security cameras retrieve the medieval city wall which simultaneously protects and imprisons its citizens.

Fourth: What does the medium reverse into? This means that every medium will always reverse into some form of its opposite when it is overused. So for example, when the automobile, which is designed to increase speed, is overextended or overused, it actually reverses into traffic jams and even fatalities.

There is no single answer to these questions; they can be asked of any medium almost endlessly to deepen our understanding. So that's one way of understanding the complexity of how media shape us.

So what do you think are some changes that would happen if people started to look at how we present our message? Like if we use McLuhan's four laws to think more about how we're presenting a message.

I think people will begin to use our media rather than be used by them unconsciously. The power of our media become less powerful when we actually understand and become aware of them. Right now, most people are distracted by the content of our media, while we miss the power of the form. Thus we encounter our media with the proverbial slip on the banana peel. We end up being used by the media we think we're using. My hope isn't that people will stop using technology in a church but rather, that they'll begin to understand so they can make more discerning decisions about how to use media.

Hipps also got our forum jumpstarted by asking tough questions about:

'Video Cafes':TalkingHeads ,Whipped Cream, and Graven Images!

As he did at most 90's U2 concert, Bono's McPhisto/Screwtape/Satan character gets the last word:

"Look what you've done to me
You've made me very famous, and I thank you
I know you like your pop stars to be exciting
So I bought... these (gold platform shoes)

Now my time among you is almost at an end
The glory of ZooTV must ascend and take its place
With all the other satellites

Don't fear, for I'll be watching you
I leave behind video cameras for each of you...

(see last couple minutes of this clip below):

Maybe the media IS the antichrist..

in addition ti being a Godsend.

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Hey, thanks for engaging the conversation!