"The Age of Egocasting" by Christine Rosen
In this wonderful article, Christine Rosen takes us through a critical look at our technological culture and the growing ability we have to shape our experiences of the world around us. She takes a close look at the technologies of remote controls, TiVo and the iPod.
The title, “The Age of Egocasting,” is a great thought provoker in and of itself. A large part of Rosen’s thesis is that we have become far to comfortable with shaping our experiences to ourselves rather than experiencing the world as it really is. Deleterious consequences follow for those who are more connected to their technologies than the outside world.
This is one good way of understanding the postmodern world, and more specifically, what is wrong with the pomo culture. Instead of being able-or being “forced”-to listen to a full symphony from beginning to end, for example, we listen to highlights-the bits we like the best-as our CD shuffler or iPod moves us on to the next highlight from the latest country song we like. One of the best ways of understanding what it means to be postmodern is that we are shaping reality instead of reality shaping us-and it looks as if our technologies give us that option on a regular basis.
My concern here is not to rail on technologies, but ask a couple of questions with regard to church experience and relevance. If it is often argued that we need to be relevant to culture, and our culture is growingly egotistical and random, how far should the church follow suit? Is it “allowable” and possibly right to shape a church service experience around random and sound-byte media experiences in order to make people feel “at home” when they come through the doors, only to intend to grab them later on with the deeper world of full-blooded Christianity? Is that approach even tenable? Is it just another form of bait-and-switch marketing?
What if the church decided that this characteristic of pomo culture is harmful to human souls and it decided to stick out like a sore thumb? It seems to me that the basic message of the Gospel is antithetical to egocasting-we need to die to ourselves and encounter a God who demands to be understood on His terms and not ours. Reaching out to culture is not just building bridges people can use to cross over into the Church, but building the right kinds of bridges in the right places and the right kinds of walls in the right places. Now that is a challenge.