Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Postmodern Obsession with Novelty and Entertainment

This is one of the things that I think we all need to be aware of in the culture that we live in. The world is obsessed with novelty and entertainment. As much as anyone else I hate being bored, love to be entertained, and love new innovative ideas, concepts, and ways of doing things.

As a communicator I must appreciate this is the world we live in and look to communicate to the world around me in a way that makes my message as palatable as possible.

As listener to I must appreciate my bias towards being entertained and discipline myself to listen and receive even when the message is not as entertaining, novel, humorous, or as dynamic as I might like.

As a leader I must challenge and encourage those I lead to be disciplined listeners as well. The very thing they may need to hear may be audible if they would tune in but could be missed if they only engage listening when it is easy and entertaining.

God speaks to people in different ways throughout the bible; audibly from bushes that are burning but that are not burning, through donkeys talking, in a booming voice from heaven, through wild men that wander in the wilderness. Our post-modern bent would be towards these kind of messages. God also speaks through still small voices and through ordinary plain men and women.

We must remember that the best message is not always the easiest one to listen to. The best message is the message that we most needed to hear and respond to.

Sometimes you read 10 chapters of an 11 chapter book before you discover in the 11th chapter the answer to a question you had carried for years. Sometimes its late in the second half of a dry sermon that the preacher throws out a line that can change your world for ever. Sometimes its the 4th session of the day in the middle of the afternoon at a conference before you hear a particular point that will turn a situation or circumstance in your life around. Sometimes its the boring lady sharing truth from God's world that will set you free. Sometimes its the funny, humorous, dynamic (shouting even), guy, with video clips, sound bytes, and 3D PowerPoint that has the message you need to hear. Sometimes though he has nothing you needed to hear.

We need to be mindful of our cultures propensity towards the novel and the entertaining. Not everything we need though will be novel or entertaining. Sometimes it will be dull, grey, and boring (a bit like compound interest), but long term it can turn your life around.

The best movies are not all new releases.
The best books were not all written in the last 5 years.
The greatest truth is not always new truth (normally never new truth).
The greatest message does not always come from your favourite preacher.

1 comment:

Heidi Nagels said...

Great thoughts Joseph. Definitely something for me to be mindful of and practice.