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Media Ecology for the Family

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"Recognizing the physical presence of another is to join God, who made us as material beings, in seeing that it was 'very good' to have done so."

For over a decade I have taught an introductory course on Media Ecology at Grove City College, and I have written two little books about worship that are profoundly informed by Media Ecology. To write on this topic interests me in a number of ways, not the least of which is the interesting lexical issue: that at the root of the word "ecology" is the Greek word oikos, ordinarily translated "house" or "household." As someone who also teaches Greek, what could be more fun than to discuss, as it were, "media household-understanding for the household"? I will attempt, after a few introductory comments about the discipline called Media Ecology, to describe the most significant characteristics of electronic and digital technologies that would rightly concern the Christian community, and then suggest a few family practices that might appropriately address those concerns.

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1 [ Back ] Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1994).
2 [ Back ] George Sanderson and Frank Macdonald, eds., with an introduction by John Cage, Marshall McLuhan: The Man and His Message (Golden, CO: Fulcrum Publishing, 1989), 1; emphasis mine.
3 [ Back ] Neil Postman with Charles Weingartner, Teaching as a Subversive Activity (New York: Delta, 1971), 7; emphasis mine.
4 [ Back ] Maggie Jackson and Bill McKibben, Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age (Prometheus Books, 2008); Mark Bauerlein, The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes our Future (Tarcher Press, 2008); Winifred Gallagher, Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life (New York: Penguin, 2009); Nicholas Carr, "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" The Atlantic, vol. 302, no. 1 (July/August 2008), 56-63; and The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains (New York: Norton, 2010).
5 [ Back ] Mark Bauerlein, The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes our Future (Tarcher Press, 2008), 10.
6 [ Back ] Christian Smith with Kari Christoffersen, Hilary Davidson, and Patricia Snell Herzog, Lost in Transition: The Dark Side of Emerging Adulthood (New York: Oxford, 2011), 234.

T. David Gordon is a minister in the Presbyterian Church in America and associate professor of religion at Grove City College (Grove City, Pennsylvania).

Issue: "Keeping Our Kids" May/June 2014 Vol. 23 No. 3 Page number(s): 5-9

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