G.K. Chesterton, one of Christianity’s most prolific writers in the twentieth century corroborates the point.  In a speech in the 1930s, Chesterton offered this prophetic analysis:

The coming peril is the intellectual, educational, psychological and artistic overproduction, which, equally with economic overproduction, threatens the wellbeing of contemporary civilisation. People are inundated, blinded, deafened, and mentally paralysed by a flood of vulgar and tasteless externals, leaving them no time for leisure, thought, or creation from within themselves.*

Chesterton’s language indicates that overstimulation prevents people from interacting with the world around them.  They are “blinded, deafened, mentally paralyzed.”   In Sayers’s language, the inundation of “events” happening around us prevents us from reflecting appropriately upon them, which ultimately stifles our ability to understand and express them in language that is distinctly ours.   For the creator of new media who wants to be a relevant voice, all analysis is time-sensitive.  This premium upon speed threatens to short-circuit the creative process of fitting the right words to our thoughts and reflections.

The chief danger of new media, then, is that our souls will die for want of silence, solitude, and reflection.  The world of new media is short on Dorothy Sayers’s poets, and if Christians are to make a significant impact through this technology, we must cultivate more of them.  To do so, however, entails setting aside the need for more information and reflecting on the world in a way that ensures our commentary is insightful and powerful.  It means ensuring that as creators of new media, we recognize the danger inherent in overproduction—that we will impoverish our own souls and contribute to an ultimately meaningless and powerless chatter. We must be poets and prophets who speak powerfully, which means that we must be discerning consumers and patient, conscientious creators.

For the previous installment of this series, click here.


*Stratford Caldecott.  “Chesterton Alive Today:  Reviving the Moral and Social Imagination.”  Available at http://www.secondspring.co.uk/spring/beaconsfield.htm.

Taken from The New Media Frontier edited by John Mark Reynolds and Roger Overton, ©2008.  Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org.  Download for personal use only.

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Posted by Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is the Founder and Lead Writer of Mere Orthodoxy. He is the author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to our Faith and The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith. Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.

6 Comments

  1. http://bit.ly/dA0YSN yes.

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

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  2. “On such a full sea are we now afloat, and we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures” – such opportunism has always been the approach of brutal men, but it remains a choice and a responsibility.

    To be clear: I argue the opposite case. I say that there is no intellectual, educational, psychological and artistic overproduction.

    I go further. The view that there is such overproduction – that view is snobbish. It is the same attitude which asks “Have you read…” (implying: “You should have read”.)

    Of writing many books, blogs and execrable poyums there is no end, and much study is a weariness unto the flesh. The end of all earthly things is never quality. Not true quality. Not lasting quality, such as might fully satisfy a soul.

    And yet, here we are, on earth, in bodies (with artistic abilities) as yet unredeemed. When perfection comes, we’ll be able to produce whatever truly approximates to quality, but since we belong to the day, the best we can hope for is self-control, protected by faith and love, and the hope of salvation. Perhaps, then, I do not so much argue the opposite case, as the same one from an eternal perspective.

    The other, unmentioned facet of the new media is tunneling: people become increasingly expert (and therefore discerning) about more and more specialised areas. There is a tide in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune… Perhaps here we will find poetic voices at work, in their way.

    Transcendence (on which all art relies, but which no artist masters) is a slippery thing, found in unworked and unlikely places as equally as in polished masterpieces. The point is that true artistry lies not in the created being, or in his endeavours, nor even in the consumer of art, the beholder, but in the creator, whose light shines out, usually in spite of our best efforts.

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  3. […] For the previous installment of this series, click here. **I am thankful to Keith Plummer of christianmind.blogspot.com for highlighting this passage from Schultze. […]

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  4. Shortride Harley-Davidson July 3, 2015 at 5:24 am

    I can’t speak for the other World media venues but I’m convinced that the Untied States New Media is dangerous and getting out of had. They have too much control over what information gets out to the public. Way too much favoritism, special interest groups and advertisers control what they want the public to know. Have you noticed the increase of so called “BREAKING NEW” reports? I won’t mention the media venue in question. I call it Fear Mongering. It’s like any other feeding frenzy. The more the news media feeds to the public the more the public in general thrives on bad news reports. It’s a dangerous combination, CNN and Fox News have become part of the political schemes with their lies and exaggerations. And then there’s the “Beat The Story To Death” scenario. They run a story into the ground until most people could probably quote it word for word every time. They repeat themselves so much some folks may actually begin to believe every word.

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