Monday, August 25, 2008
Where are the stained glass windows of contemporary Western Christianity? To be sure, there are some, but overall have they been displaced by the new stained glass windows - screens? Film screens, LCDs, plasma displays, projectors, etc.
While some stained glass windows displaced murals and mosaics, the windows continued to offer still images in a different medium that were not only art, but useful instructional tools. Playing on the "God is light" motif (1 John 1:5), stained glass windows captured a vibrancy of color by harnessing natural sunlight, not manufactured moving images on screens.
Have we lost or greatly diminished not only a sense of art, but also added technology to churches without giving it much thought? Are the supposed benefits of video displays in churches really benefits or simply fascinations with integrating modern technology into worship? If a church has grown such that a video screen is needed in order for everyone to be able to see the preacher, then could it be that the church has gotten too big?
I don't purport to have final answers to these and related questions, but the rise of video displays in churches is something to consider, not just accept. If the devices are installed as a means of entertainment, I don't argue against entertainment per se, but question the influence on our sensibilities, already oversaturated in most instances by the rise of multimedia-driven culture.
As I've said before, the medium is not the message, rather the medium is what we make it. But are we making the medium of video into something useful for the church or something that is merely copying our entertainment-driven culture?