by Timothy Moranville
The primary focus of this blog will be to discuss Sacred Scripture, Faith, culture, media, and the way those four things fit together. For those of you who don't think they fit together, keep reading every week (and buy a copy of Cease Fire: The War is Over!). For those of you who have read Cease Fire and agree with the premise, this blog will allow you a chance to gain more insight and perhaps even some help integrating your faith with your everyday life as a person and/or media professional.
I've chosen the theme for this blog based on two things: my love of lighting and videography; and my desire to live up to Christ's call to be "the light of the world" (Matt. 5:14a). As a videographer, I believe that you can't tell a great story without a great image; and you can't have a great image without great lighting. Think about it- if I told the same story but one was underexposed, one was overexposed, and the other was just right, which one would you want to watch?
This week's topic- Warming up the Lamps, will discuss the role of Christians as the "light of the world." The title refers to preheating lamps on a set or stage. As any lighting designer or cinematographer will tell you, turning the lighting to 100% intensity right away will almost certainly cause the lamps to blow. We start the lamps at 5-10% intensity, let them warm up a little, and then gradually take them up to full intensity. I chose this title because it seems to me that a great deal of Christians don't know they're supposed to be the light of the world. Their lights are turned off, and as such, are useless.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells the crowd, "You are the light of the world" (Matt. 5:14a). In making this statement, Jesus places the responsibility for illuminating the dark world on our shoulders. He isn't saying we can make ourselves the light of the world. He isn't saying we can do it without his help. But, he is saying that we have to "let our light shine" (cf. Matt. 5:16). As our modern world seems to grow darker and darker, we as Christians need to continue to let our light shine. Instead of throwing up our hands and complaining about how dim things look, we need to turn up our lamps. Instead of hoping Jesus will "flip a switch" and make everything light again, we need to carry our light to the darkness.
In particular, when discussing media and culture, we as Christians have an obligation to not "put it [light] under a bushel basket" (cf. Matt. 5:15). Instead of abandoning the media and only stepping out from under our "basket" to criticize media and culture, we need to step out from under our "basket" full time and put ourselves on the "lampstand." By only stepping out from our "basket" for short times to offer criticism, we only provide light in short bursts. By placing our light on the lampstand, we offer a continual source of light. Look at it in this way- if we were in a completely dark room and I had the only flashlight, would you appreciate me more if I kept switching the light on intermittently for short bursts or if I left it on to provide as much light as possible? In the same way, the world around us views Christianity as archaic and annoying because they perceive (for the most part) that our light only shines intermittently. Sure, in church the lights are always on. In Christian circles, the lights are always on. But, when we walk out of church on Sunday or leave the Christian rock concert on Saturday, most of us switch our light off and complain about having to go back into the "dark, scary world." If more of us kept our lights on Monday through Saturday, perhaps the world would be a brighter place.
As the light of the world, we aren't told to keep the light to ourselves. We're told to share it with others. How better to accomplish this task than through the media? We live in a world that is so dependent upon media for everything. Television, film, and the Internet are perhaps the most influential sources in our society. So, as Christians why are we isolating ourselves and setting up "Christian" TV, film, and websites? I'm not saying these don't have their place: we certainly need to nourish ourselves, and there's nothing wrong with catering to our own audience. However, when we leave the rest of the media to do what it wants, should we really be surprised at what we see? What if Christian writers came up with an idea for a sitcom that is funny to a broad audience without compromising Christian sensibilities about God, sex, marriage, etc.? Would Christians watch it and appreciate it for what it was without judging the writers for not being more "preachy?"
As you go through the week, think about how your light shines. Are you hiding under a basket? Are you shining your light intermittently? Are you sitting on a lampstand?