How should Catholics approach the media?

Posted: March 17, 2014 in Catholic, New Media
Tags: , , , , ,
Infinite Bandwidth: Encountering Christ in the Media by Eugene Gan

Infinite Bandwidth: Encountering Christ in the Media by Eugene Gan

I want to get one myth out of the way before I begin answering this question: The media is not bad. I think many Catholics have the wrong idea that the media is corrupting the youth and will forever change society for the worse. I may by biases when I say this as a young person and a Journalism major, but that idea is false.

The media is awesome. Its is an amazing tool that can be used to bring the world together and better the Catholic faith, is used correctly. Even Pope Francis agrees,  calling social media and the internet “a gift from God“. If the Pope says so, it’s most likely true.

So what is the mind set that Catholics can use in order to use media the right way to better themselves and the church? Dr. Eugene Gan, a communications professor at Franciscan University, very kindly put a book together that identifies this mind set.

After reading dozens of doctrine about the media dating back to when the media was born, he was able to narrow it down to seven keys. The following only comes from what I’ve read in his book, I did not come up with any of these. It’s strictly from the Catholic church.

1. Balance

Do not rely on only one organization for your media entertainment. The point is to look at a variety of outlets in order to see various mind sets.

In news, look at a variety of angles to get the truth in reporting. No matter how much a news organization claims that they aren’t biased, there always will be a little bit of bias, it’s impossible to avoid. Look at various sources to figure out what is going on in the world if you want to get the whole story.

2. Attitude Awareness

Attitude awareness means to stay informed and on top of news and media. Listen for the message that are being presented. When looking at media, try to identify the perspective and agenda that the media maker has. Seek the message that is being shown.

For example, car ads try to sell cars by promising a particular lifestyle. Usually there is a man looking a little like James Bond in the car  wearing a really nicely fitted suit driving on an open road at top speeds. He pulls up to a valet and dramatically tosses them the keys while and attractive woman stands to the side oohing the man and his car. What kind of lifestyle is the ad promoting? They are essentially saying, buy our car and you’ll get the girl and a life of luxury.

3. The Dignity of the Human Person

All media should reflect, uphold, and enhance dignity. Pope John Paul II said that the “goal of all technological progress is to make man more human“. Media should enhance one’s understanding of culture and what makes humans unique.

For example, the movie Bella is the story of a man helping a woman find her worth and preventing her from aborting her baby. It enhances the dignity of both the woman and her child.

4. Truth-filled

The media can help convey the truth about God and humanity.  Truths are that God exists, redemption is possible, good and evil exist, and that there is a moral law. Keep in mind that the media can be truthful, but not accurate. An example of this is the Chronicles of Narnia. There is no such thing as Narnia, but the books reflect Christian morals.

5. Inspiring

Media should enlighten and raise questions among its consumers. Inspires people to transcendent lives and point our way to heaven and good. It should inspire people to pursue virtue and develop a relationship with the Lord.

For example, the 1946 holiday classic It’s a Wonderful Life, starring James Stewart and Donna Reed inspires its viewers. The movie is about a young man who struggles to see his importance and is visited by an angel, who shows him what the world would be like without him. It teaches people their importance and inspires them to appreciate the people around them.

6. Skillfully Developed

Media must be well done with the latest technology and talented crew in order to get people’s attention. The problem with a lot of movies and books that Christian organizations come out with is that it’s not very well made. The script is cheesy, the graphics are off, and the acting is so-so. It doesn’t matter how good the message is. If it’s poorly made, no one is going to pay attention to it.

Mumford and Sons had really grasped this key. They play very good music that is unique to them that people love, but also has a good Christian Message.

7. Motivated by and Relevant to Experience

Media should reflect our feelings, thoughts, and actions. People tend to relate to messages that tell stories. Stories touch the heartstrings and force people to listen and understand better than straight facts. It’s why sitcom shows tend to be more desirable than news shows, because a sitcom tells a story rather than presents facts.

This sounds like the most cliche example, but it’s the best example in my opinion: Jesus told parables. He was preaching to audiences of thousands. He could’ve said that the father is forgiving to all sinners, but instead, he told the parable of the Prodigal Son, who stole his inheritance from his father, fell to a life of drinking and gambling, then went home to his father who welcomed him with open arms and celebrated his return home. The story got people to listen and understand.

So that’s all 7 keys? Think it’s easy to remember all of them? It actually is! Gan was clever and came up with a really cool acronym to remember all of them. Put all the first letters of the keys together and it spells BAPTISM.

Balance
Attitude of Awareness
Person (Dignity of)
Truthfilled
Inspiring
Skillfully Made
Motivated by Experiance

Mind blown by that acronym? I was…

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