8.2.10

The Church and media network guy: Andrew Greystone

We are with Andrew Greystone and looking at the creative God and the concealing and revealing God. Andrew has worked for the BBC and now works to try to integrate Church and media. He is very engaging and dynamic. He tells us about a creative theology and how all art is actually struggling to tell the truth about God's world. In television, we see people's creativity and we come to understand culture.

With Andrew, we are engaging with media in a positive way- how refreshing! We are critical but positive. Where is God in the media? The whole world belongs to him, including television. Where is he concealed/revealed?

Why do we watch TV? There are multiple reasons. We think about how we are looking for stories and commonality.

Our exposure to the media affects us.

Andrew promises us a tool for reading the meta-narrative of television and talks about David Hesslegrave, who proposes we look at the actions of the culture we are looking at and then we need to ask ourselves about the values that are driving people. From this we can identify their beliefs.

The television frames the culture in the way that the church used to. Andrew would even go as far as to say that Television frames the liturgical calendar - comic relief at Easter etc. The Synod debate on Wednesday last week was about the Church and its relationship with the media.

Andrew believes that television can help us to engage missionally. We need to understand the people we are going to be living alongside. Television tells us about ourselves and our concerns and desires.



TV is everywhere, they're watching Dallas in the most deprived slum communities of the world.

We look at the core values in "The Weakest Link", which seems so Darwinian and "Deal or No Deal'"which is much more about the corporate good. You have a powerful, paternalistic advocate in Noel Edmonds. We think about the 'God-figure' and the power dynamics. We consider the American show "Friends" - intimacy, sex, identity in one another, life is tough, we'll be there for one another.

All of this is fascinating.

The broadcast era started in 1921 when Vatican radio went on air. We are now in the digital age. Andrew will talk to us about Discipleship in a digital Culture.

Andrew looks at 'Second Life'; an alternative reality based on the creation of an Avatar who leads a parallel life, whom you become and control. We can choose and shape our identities in Second Life. We look at 'Inside life' - how in your 'off-line' life, you can communicate with an avatar in 'on-line life'. The virtual world is connected to real life with a meta mixed reality.

It is very interesting to reflect on how we do prayer, this mixed reality - we communicate with the deity!

Hey, this is getting exciting.

We think about St Pixels, the virtual church community. There are real opportunities for pastoral engagement here but we have to trust that people say they are whom they claim to be.

We look at how our on-line life is only going to increase; the television and Internet will become incorporated. We will increasingly shape television and the internet. It is governed by speed. There is a huge exponential rate of growth in that computer speeds double every two years (Moore's Law) and the size of memory doubles every eighteen months.

In ten years I will have 60 x the power in my computer. But Nano-technology is coming in and so the rate of growth is going to be much more quick than we anticipate.

There are 350 million people on Facebook. We are getting more and more adaptable to new technological advancements.

Do we see ourselves as digital natives or digital immigrants?

Interesting how we polarise - can we really say that our children do not have bedtime stories? Can we say that the television tells our children their bedtime stories? So we can not say there are no stories being accessed. Instead we have to think about who is telling the story. Emmm.

There are social networking 'second life' spaces 'Habbo Hotel. DE'  and 'Penguin Club' for children.

Wii fit was driven by the desire to make computer gaming more family/women friendly.

Advertising occurs now within the gaming environment.

Christians in the digital age
297 TV channels in the UK now.  Andrew talks about how our experiences are not richer as a consequence. There is still the propagation of a Western liberal agenda - interesting.

The internet will dominate. TV and radio will be seen as subsets of the internet, Andrew explains. Through this we have the proliferation of major brands. We are navigating through brands. Branding is very powerful - do we speak into it and adopt its techniques or stand in opposition to it, critique it, be counter-cultural? What should the Church do?

Egalitarian?
So is power being taken out of the hands of a controlling and authoritative elite? Yes, it is. The consequences are that there are questions over standards and intellectual property which are impossible to govern. Youtube will beat the hierarchies to it and show footage that they have chosen to edit. What are the driving forces? Standards are hard to maintain and much is driven by consumer capture concerns.

It would be easy for us to want to forget it all and not engage. Andrew helps to redeem all of this for us - hooray!!!!

There is a lack of authority - so we have to face this and think about how we go with it and create accountability.

We have to engage with our cyber-connected communities. Rather than lamenting a lack  of community, maybe we need a wider vision about what community is all about.

What is community? Look at this blog about the community in the Second Life Anglican Cathedral.

This is what I am most interested in - how we create authenticity. Andrew gets us to engage with the fact that we already have multiple personalities. On the web, we are to behave as we would in our off-line life. I like the Anglican blogosphere culture, which sets blogging commandments and we all declare our names and who we are.

...so much to think about

What is truth?
What does Christ's incarnation, his embodiment say about our virtual relationships?
How will the church engage with our changing culture?

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