By Gordon Lynch
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Extra info for Between sacred and profane : researching religion and popular culture
What resources are available for researchers when they seek to go beyond the contrasting ‘dangers’ and ‘opportunities’ paradigms? In many scholarly contexts around the world the iconoclastic and iconographic approaches towards media are analysed through critical interpretative lenses. From this perspective different media are primarily perceived as neither being a threat nor providing an opportunity for communication. My argument here is that there is much to be learnt from how interpreters, beyond the media and religion field, have analysed different aspects of media technologies, media production and media consumption.
The second common question is almost an antithesis to the first: What are the opportunities for communicating religious faith or teaching about religion to be found in different media? 2), so some five centuries later many writers celebrate new forms of communication as examples of divine providence. Rather than worrying about the potential dangers of media such as television, film, radio or the internet, many writers or practitioners also emphasise their potential for reaching new audiences. This group of media advocates can be described as iconographers, and are partly made up of those religious leaders who seek not to reject media as a threat, but rather embrace it as enthusiastic users.
Postman balances such contextual arguments with specific criticisms, such as that on television God is: a vague and subordinate character. Though His name is invoked repeatedly, the concreteness and persistence of the image of the preacher carries the clear message that it is he, not He, who must be worshipped. I do not mean to imply that the preacher wishes it to be so; only that the power of a close-up televised face, in color, makes idolatry a continual hazard. Television is, after all, a form of graven imagery far more alluring than a golden calf.