“…. 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.
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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: