Friday, October 27, 2006

Culture: God Blog Conference 2006 - Kick Off - Baptizing the imagination for Jesus

After a 2 hour drive from work in Los Angeles to Biola University 30 miles away, I had the opportunity to hear John Mark Reynolds give what was essentially a "State of the Internet and New Media" address.

There were about 40 people in the Metzer Hall conference room of which a few seemed to be live blogging the event. I'm sure many summaries of last night's talk have been posted.

Reynolds began by citing the progress of revolutions from history. Stage 1 is denial, stage 2 is that it is the hottest new thing and stage 3 is the time of settling and shaking it out. The internet revolution, in his view, is at the end of stage 2 and entering stage 3. The technology is starting to be taken for granted.

In recent memory, Hollywood and the movie industry was a revolution which Christians failed to be a part of. Christians decried the potential for abuse of the new medium of movies but weren't at the table in Hollywood's growth in the 20th Century hence, that realm was almost exclusively secular.

Reynolds is concerned the same is happening in the internet and the new media.

At one point, blogging and web content was brand new and anyone can get in and get some audience. The barriers to entry remains low but the standard to gain audience has risen dramatically. He believes that eventually a handful of portals will control the bulk of content that will actually get read. He is very concerned that if Christians aren't creative and taking risks, we will not be at the table when that happens.

He summarized his talk with these four points:
(1) The days of the internet as the wild wild west are over. A finite number of entities will ultimately control content that actually gets read and they will be the ones who find a business model that generates revenue by doing so.
(2) He challenged the group to think about the world of virtual reality. Can we create a Christian world in cyberspace that is so compelling that people who visit it will be moved to want to live it in real life?
(3) The power of myth and fiction. People who grew up reading Tolkein and the Lord of the Rings tend to be more receptive to Christian ideas later in life. What is the fiction that people are consuming today? Does that fiction baptize people's imaginations in such a way that they become more or less responsive to the Gospel News of Jesus and the Cross? Christians must take risks and put material out onto the internet that is unexpected much as Jesus did when he taught people.
(4) In the rush for all this new technology and new media, let us not lose the best of the past. Christians should be sharing the best from the past because of the truths those "old things" conveyed.

A summary is also offered up at the Godblogcon 2006 website.

Running the search "godblogcon" in google yields this.

A run of the same search on the search utility in yields this.

The conference continues all day Friday and Saturday morning.

I'll be at the conference again Friday night after work and Saturday morning.


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