Competing Spectacles by Tony Reinke–Book Review

“…. never satisfied are the eyes of man.”  Proverbs 27:20

Here’s how author Tony Reinke defines spectacle:

“…a moment of time, of varying length, in which collective gaze is fixed on some specific image, event or moment.  A spectacle is something that captures human attention, an instant when our eyes and brains focus and fixate on something projected at us.”

Humankind is always seeking a spectacle.  There were the gladiators of Rome, the Greek games, the Victorian theater, the shows of  military might in modern times.  In today’s world we have raised the spectacle to an art form, one that continually engages our attention by way of readily available technology.  We have turned politics, consumer goods, entertainment, tragedy and even ourselves into a constant stream of images that distract and distance us from what is taking place around us.  We have turned these “spectacles” into modern day idols that have taken the place of God.  For Christians, the true spectacle, the one we should focus our mind and attention upon, is the crucifixion of Christ.  This is not a spectacle we have seen, but a “spectacle of the ears.”  All of the other “competing spectacles” are vain attempts to fill the void within us caused by our hunger for God.

This book addresses so many topics, it’s impossible to cover in one review.  Topics range from Paul’s preaching of Christ crucified in Colossians, to the views of the Puritans on entertainment and theater, to avatars, gaming and our shrinking attention span.  Is the church a spectacle-maker?  To what extent is it okay for Christians to watch films and entertainment that depict sinful activity?  At what point has worship been reduced to entertainment?  Are we using our technology to create an alternate existence, one in which we have perfected the image of ourselves that we want others to see?

The questions are not easily answered.  Reinke says,

“This book is a theology of visual culture, …. It will not help you prioritize your TV options…..It will not help you watch pop films through a gospel lens….Nor will it help you untangle the narrative threads of a thoughtful film…. More intentionally (it) … is a companion for Christians walking through digital detoxes, the now necessary periods of our lives when we voluntarily unplug from pop media, news media, and social media in order to de-screen our eyes and reorder our priorities.”

If you read this book be prepared to think hard about the many spectacles that vie for your attention every day.

VERDICT:  4 Stars.  Good, but dense, and it got a bit repetitive.

If you would like to purchase this book, follow the link below:

https://www.crossway.org/books/competing-spectacles-tpb/

he Lutheran Ladies received a free e-copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review. Disclaimer pursuant to FTC 16 CFR part 255,

For more about the effects of modern technology see these posts:

Modern Parents Vintage Values by Sissy Goff and Melissa Trevathan–Book Review

You Are What You Do by Daniel Im–Book Review

Kids Today

 

 

Keeping the Right Focus

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

I’ve been taking a prediabetes class through the local senior center since May.  This involves setting goals, establishing disciplines (exercise, calorie counting) and sticking to them.  Often it’s tedious, but it pays off.  So far I’ve lost eleven pounds and now have a healthier diet and fitness routine.  It’s been especially hard to maintain during the last three weeks while I’ve been living out of suitcases and running back and forth between two homes (neither of them mine).  Still, I’ve managed to keep up.  I’m hoping at my next class I’ll find I’m still on track.

This reminds me that spiritual discipline is especially necessary when the environment becomes chaotic.  I haven’t done so well on this front.  My husband and I had made a resolution to pray together in the mornings and afternoons — and it hasn’t been happening.  I skipped a church committee meeting this week and my personal prayer life hasn’t been what it should. I’ve allowed myself to occasionally wallow in self pity.  My environment is definitely influencing me more than I am influencing my environment.

This week I’m going to fix my eyes on Jesus.  I’m going to focus on my spiritual routines and not use temporary problems as an excuse to neglect the most needful things.  That kind of discipline will lead to more lasting results than a reduction in my blood sugar levels.

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”(2 Corinthians 4:18)

Turn Around

“…I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds …” Acts 26:20b

Did you know that the word repentance, as used in the Bible, actually means to “turn your guts (or insides) around”?  Repentance doesn’t just mean saying “sorry” or even feeling sorry.  It means going forward in a different direction — doing an about face.  Many times, maybe most of the time, we really don’t want to do this.  Sometimes we think we can’t  do this, because the sin is so deeply ingrained.  Saying sorry often means we’re sorry we got caught.  We’re sorry our bad behavior was noticed.  We want to look good instead of being good.

In the verse, the apostle Paul is explaining to King Agrippa exactly why the Jews want him to be prosecuted and put to death.  He had the audacity to demand that they change their ways!  He expected them to walk the walk, not just talk the talk, and it made them furious!

True repentance is a willingness to turn away from our sin (whatever that happens to be) and start walking in a different direction, walking towards God’s way instead of our way.  It’s difficult, and sometimes we’ll stumble or even fall.  When that happens we need to get up, get going, and stay focused on the goal.

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  Hebrews 12:2

Are you willing to turn around?