I came across Flickering Pixels through a great article in last month’s Relevant magazine. Intrigued by the article, I trekked to the Christian bookstore to buy it.
I finished in one evening.
Shane Hipps has written a fascinating book on the role media plays on our faith and communication. Not limited to social networking, smart phones and the internet, it examines how the world changed with the invention of the alphabet, the printing press, the camera and finally all the media devices at our disposal now.
We like to blame texting and Facebook for connecting us on a superficial level but the disconnection actually came about when the printing press was invented. “As reading and writing became available to more and more people, the community was no longer needed to retain teachings, traditions, or identity,” Hipps writes.
The book is eye opening—allowing the reader to fully appreciate how the media and the message are both lenses in which we see the world. One cannot be addressed without the other.
I have always been a proponent of offering different modalities for educational materials. I don’t want to download a guide to my iPod or Blackberry. I want a printed booklet in front of me which helps outline the steps. I love my iPod for music but not being an auditory learner, I don’t *get* podcasts or news talk radio at all. I lean towards the written word which explains why solid Christian books speak more to me than the best Sunday sermon.
So of course, at the end of the book, I wanted a concrete To-Do and Don’t Do list. I expected Hipps to suggest ditching all electronic media and return to campfire stories within community. But the point of Flickering Pixels is not admonition. It is a well-written guide, opening your eyes to invisible influences (both good and bad), allowing us to function in the world with deliberation.
His insights on the Christian message were especially thoughtful. For example, our rational (text based) mind turns Christianity into a formula and discounts emotion as irrational. As an avid reader and writer, I do struggle with seeing Christianity as a formulaic solution. Hipps chapter “Dimmer Switch” suggests the “being saved” process is more like a dimmer switch than a light switch was exceptionally profound for me.
Flickering Pixels is a book I will be passing along to friends and family and one that I will reread again and again, trying to absorb the meaty concepts Hipps so eloquently writes.
Analysis: This is a roast with carrots and potatoes book. Substantial and filling, it will challenge you and sustain you. And the carrots will help you see better!