Thursday, March 01, 2007

Living history

Here's a post from Terry Heaton's PoMo Blog.
"Postmodernism is a change-or-be-changed world. The word is out: Reinvent yourself for the 21st century or die! Some would rather die than change."
Leonard Sweet, cultural historian.
Today's post is entitled: Living History
I’ve been around the broadcasting business now for 37 years, and in that time I’ve lived through a lot of what’s known as history.

I remember when cable first was birthed, and the engineers at the station laughed because it wasn’t up to “broadcast standards.”

I remember brainstorming a music video channel with co-workers in Milwaukee and coming to the conclusion that it wouldn’t work, because the music industry wouldn’t license the music for it.

I remember when CNN was born, and all of us big-J journalist types looked down our noses at it with disdain and an assurance that it would never work.

I remember when networks actually paid affiliates to be a part of their distribution chain.

I remember when “must-carry” came along and affiliates were in the driver’s seat with the cable companies.

I remember when video tape replaced film in newsrooms and how all the photographers at first laughed and then cried when they went from a lightweight CP-16a film camera to an RCATK76 AND a portable tape recorder. It would never work, they said.

I’ve been through 45s, albums, 8-tracks, cassettes and CDs.

I was there when Betamax duked it out with VHS and lost.

I remember when I got my first computer and when our newsroom underwent the transition from those floating rundown devices to computerized versions.

I remember my first experience with a station Website, and how we all viewed it as a pain-in-the-ass.

And for the last ten years, I’ve been working in this world called the internet, and I just shake my head when I hear familiar refrains about quality and how this thing or that “won’t work.” I look out at YouTube,,, and thousands of vlogs and other forms of what Jeff Jarvis calls “small TV.” How can we be so stupid, I ask myself, not to see what’s really happening in the world of video and video news?

Former FCC Chairman Reed Hundt said recently, “…we specifically formed the view in 1994 that the Internet ought to replace broadcast television…”

That’s ancient history in terms of the Web, but it clearly states what now is obvious.
Some of us have seen most of these changes. I wonder how much the church is really really cognizant is these changes and of the reality that we are living in a changing world. As Alan Roxburgh points out in The Missional Leader, we are in a time of
"discontinuous change"... that is "much more disturbing and difficult... it creates a situation that requires something different from and more potent than the normal habits and skills that were so useful during a stable period of continous change."

1 comment:

Kevin Flatt said...

That our world changes constantly is undeniable. That it is changing at an increasing rate also seems fairly certain.

I have to say, though, that red flags go up all over the place when people warn me I have to "reinvent myself for the 21st century," "change or die", etc. Such rhetoric has been used in the past to frighten large parts of the Church into making some of the worst changes of the last two centuries. It was used by the liberal scholars of the 19th century who argued that "modern" man couldn't believe in the miraculous so it was time to reinvent Jesus as an ordinary guy who taught some nice morals. It was used by the collaborationists who allowed Hitler to take over the German churches, since it was the only way to survive. It was used, and is used, by those who believe the Church must give up traditional moral teachingsto be relevant in this sexually liberated, divorce-happy society.

Interestingly, the "conservative" churches that have refused to change their beliefs or moral standards have survived. The "liberal" churches that tried to change to stay relevant are dying. The difference is that the former were willing to change their methods, but the latter changed their message.

So if we are told "change or die", let's make sure we don't compromise our message or witness for what could very well be illusory gains. And if standing on the truth results in our death, well, the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church, and "he who loses his life for me will find it".