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Media Franca

The term “lingua franca” effectively means the tongue of trade. In Jesus’ day, it was a form of Greek. Today it is English—the official language for international communications. It is reasonable then to consider the ‘media franca’ the mode for communicating in an era.

For much of human history, the media franca was oral tradition. With the evolution of the printing press, it became books, though the oral tradition continued strongly through theatre. In the 20th century, it became a four-horse race between books, radio, film and TV. Now it is all of the above through the true media franca of the Internet.

<#soapbox>Though this could be, it isn’t an anti-SOPA post, even though SOPA is a bad idea done poorly, though the publicly claimed goal of stopping piracy is reasonable. This won’t do that and will do real harm and no real good. </#soapbox>

As Christians, we mastered the first two, oral tradition and books, though fought the theatre for much of our history (not without good reasons, but we fought it before realizing it could be redeemed like the rest of culture). But as technology grew, we’ve had a love-hate relationship with each new form of media. Some have embraced the power of radio and TV with various levels of success, and others have fought against it.

For some reason, film has been one of the hardest media for Christians to deal with. Many fight for decency in the films in very antagonistic ways, and the attempts to present a ‘righteous alternative’ have largely been cheesy, preachy, and third-class in their sophistication and appeal. Christian filmmaking for the most part has really struggled to find its place.

And yet, we’ve done very well overall with the web, as the younger, more tech-savvy (and more post-modern) generations embraced the idea of having an active presence in the electronic free market, but not demanding everyone else play nice or go home. If there’s one thing good I can say for post-modernity, it is this egalitarian approach to sharing one’s story and worldview with persuasion and without rancor (usually) which seems to be how the apostle’s shared the Gospel with non-Jewish pagans.

One of the avenues where there has been a strange rise in good Christian filmmaking is on the Internet. There has been an explosion of amazingly well-done shorts written from a Christian viewpoint yet with top notch production qualities. At the end of the post are a couple of very good examples.

I’m not a scholar of media, so I don’t have insights on why this should occur, but I am thrilled to see it. It is time for Christendom to again master the media franca, to redeem it, and let the light of the Gospel and God’s goodness shine in an inviting way that offers hope in its True Source, and say, in the spirit of the Psalmist, “Taste, and see that the Lord is good.”

The power of simple gifts simply presented:

This has become one of my favorite movies of all time, “The Butterfly Circus,” starring Eduardo Verastegui, the star of Bella, and an amazing young man, Nick Vujicic, who’s story is offered as a link at the end.


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