We Become What We Behold

The next generation in the West is growing up and being influenced by a culture that relies on image-based, intuitive, non-linear, concrete forms of communication (screen technology, photographs, symbols and icons). No wonder kids today struggle so much when we give them a book to read! After all, a book (the printed english word in general) is a linear, abstract, fragmented, sequential form of communication.  Print and image are two exclusive forms of communication - and we must learn to wisely percieve both if we are to reach the next generation effectively with the Gospel.

When we teach kids to read, and (hopefully) wisely percieve ideas that are written down in the English language form, we may accidentally be trying to undermine the powerful messages of intuitive, non-linear thinking patterns carried to them through our image-based culture. This is something of a fool's errand. We must be willing to start where our kids are, and gently guide them. 

This shift from linear, abstract thinking to intuitive, concrete thinking is the reason it is such a struggle for educators, teachers, and preachers to be effective in their work. This is also why we fail so often (even as adults) in doing things like reading our bibles every day. We are more easily able to interpret and understand image-based media such as colourful, large print blogs or television shows. As an interesting side-note, have you noticed that web 2.0 fonts are all gigantic and simplistic in form? Regardless of the content, it's the image-based fact of the medium that shapes us without our permission. The content of whatever we are watching/viewing is actually secondary in importance to the technology itself ... that is, until we correctly perceive the power that the technology has to shape and pattern our thoughts and lives.

In context, the opposite of today's dillema was true in the age of the printing press (think: 1800s and later). At that time, people were moving away from the iconographic culture of the Roman Catholic church and into more sequential, abstract, linear forms of communication - the very form of the printed word. Systematic theology, for example, is not so much an invention of the great reformers as it was an invention of the printing press.

We become what we behold.


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