Competing Spectacles: Treasuring Christ in the Media Age

Competing Spectacles: Treasuring Christ in the Media Age

"Thirty years after Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death, this book takes the impact-analysis of modern media to a new level." John Piper, Founder and Teacher, desiringGod.orgWhat images should I feed my eyes?We often leave this question unanswered-- because we don't ask it. Maybe we don't want to ask it. But viral videos, digital images, and other spectacles surroun...

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Title:Competing Spectacles: Treasuring Christ in the Media Age
Author:Tony Reinke
Rating:

Competing Spectacles: Treasuring Christ in the Media Age Reviews

  • Calvinist Batman

    This was a compelling read. Let's dive into the review.

    From the very first pages, Reinke lays out the purpose of his book:

    And Reinke delivers on this in spades.

    The book is divided into two main parts: (1) our cu

    This was a compelling read. Let's dive into the review.

    From the very first pages, Reinke lays out the purpose of his book:

    And Reinke delivers on this in spades.

    The book is divided into two main parts: (1) our culture's spectacle problem and (2) how Jesus is the great and true spectacle. For those who have read Reinke's other book

    , the first half of the book should be a tad familiar, but Reinke delves deep into our visual culture. In fact, it would be wrong to call this book a sequel to

    or even a successor to it. Rather, this book is a

    to

    , with

    then focusing on phones itself. This book is a very condensed survey of current media and trends and our response to it, hence "a theology of visual culture"

    There are so many good chapters in this book. The chapters on porn, image, and war/violence were especially gripping in the first part. But the second half?

    It's not often I get to use the word "herald" because in our (church) culture heralding isn't typically done. It's more than preaching or teaching. It's closer to imparting something than teaching something. Reinke isn't as concerned with nuances on tech philosophy.

    He does this with such a passion that I feel if he could he would put his own eyes in ours so we could behold what he sees in Christ. There's a passion, an infectious exuberance in this second part and it is wonderful.

    This

    shows in the audiobook.

    First let me say,

    . When I reviewed

    , I mentioned about the audiobook version:

    From some tweets back and forth, it looks like I (among others) convinced him. This time, Reinke himself narrates the book.

    Reinke has a wonderful voice. His voice at the beginning of the book is good, but he really opens up with emotion, laughter, and a lighter tone in the second half. As I already said, it's infectious. Once I reached this section, I just

    to finish the book without stopping.

    I really appreciated the tone and substance of the book. I think this might be Reinke's best written book. His poetic form at certain points seem to be a clear influence from his work at Desiring God and with John Piper. It is beautifully written. (Side-note: my new favorite word is "dramaturgy")

    I have only two challenges I experienced while reading the book.

    I feel I will be in the majority opinion on this, but for reading the hard-copy version of this book, the layout and formatting decisions were hugely distracting for me. Reinke has admitted that he tried a different book structure than typical non-fiction books, however I don't think it quite works. In my opinion, this might be because it's hard to place what

    of book this is. In the beginning, Reinke admits that this book is meant to be a companion guide to those going through a media detox. That helped me determine what the book was trying to be: a devotional of sorts. In short, I believe there are differences in reading expectation when reading a book and reading a devotional. I know it might feel like I'm nit-picking, but the format really bugged me. In fact, it's a big reason I chose to start over and listen to the audiobook. Upon listening though, I realized the format

    works for the audiobook. The short chapters play more like short audio-only YouTube clips. This helps create a momentum as it feels like you're accomplishing something when reading (Side-note: I just finished a chapter in another book that was 300 pages/9hrs long, so the momentum in this was welcome).

    And all this talking about the audio of the book brings me to the second challenge.

    In the middle of the book, Reinke makes a comment about how this culture and the church have some fundamental differences since they are captivated by

    spectacles while the church is fuel by faith,

    and hearing by the Word of God.

    This is a huge point which is never developed. Reinke (purposely?) focuses on visual spectacles and the spectacle of Christ in the imagination of the Christian mind. But Reinke and scripture is right, our religion is hugely text-driven and

    and there are absolutely auditory spectacles in our world/culture that we must battle/engage with. It's one of those things that once he brings it up, you realize how missing the subject has been and continues to be upon reading. I understand the limited scope, but I felt it should have included more on the auditory side.

    ----------------------------------

    Those two things aside, I found this book even more helpful than

    . I can't endorse this book highly enough. Take your time in reading it and read it often.

  • David Steele

    We live in an increasingly visual culture. As a pastor, I hear the relentless sound of a postmodern drumbeat: “The average person cannot sit through a forty-five-minute sermon,” I’m told. Yet that same person will sit in a dark room for nearly four hours and watch Lord of the Rings. I am convinced that the aversion to listening to a sermon has more to do with affections than ability. That is, we are drawn to what we love. And we are increasingly captivated by the visual - screens, televisions, v

    We live in an increasingly visual culture. As a pastor, I hear the relentless sound of a postmodern drumbeat: “The average person cannot sit through a forty-five-minute sermon,” I’m told. Yet that same person will sit in a dark room for nearly four hours and watch Lord of the Rings. I am convinced that the aversion to listening to a sermon has more to do with affections than ability. That is, we are drawn to what we love. And we are increasingly captivated by the visual - screens, televisions, video games and an endless array of visual stimuli. A visual smorgasbord surrounds us and offers a rich ar-ray of pleasures and satisfaction. But do these visual delights (or spectacles) come with a hefty price tag?

    Tony Reinke examines the visual dilemma in his new book,

    . A spectacle is anything that garners attention from the eye, be it good or evil. Reinke is chiefly concerned with answering one question: “In this ecosystem of digital pictures and fabricated sights and viral moments competing for our attention, how do we spiritually thrive?”

    Anyone who thinks that Reinke is over-reacting should etch this statement on their minds and tape it to their televisions:

    Taken from this perspective, most would agree that the goal to keep spectators spectating is succeeding. Our visual world is sucking people in and it appears that turning back is not an option. The net result is a people who appear satisfied but are dying on the inside.

    Briefly, Reinke diagnoses the problem of spectacles and challenges readers to be aware of the ever-present tension. Indeed, the spectacles in the world lure unsuspecting eyes and promise a full array of benefits, yet in the final analysis, is found wanting. On the other hand, the supreme Spectacle offers eternal joy and pleasure (Ps. 16:11).

    But the author goes further. He argues that the supreme Spectacle is more comprehensive and enchanting than we ever dreamed: “The local church is where we go to find the Lord’s Table and baptism and the preaching of the Word, where those re-peated spectacles call us again and again for a response of worship and repentance and joy.”

    No one can point a judgmental finger at Reinke - for he steers clear from all brands of legalism. He urges evangelical eyes to be disciplined and discerning: “Each of us must reckon with this radical eschatological promise of Christ in our personal media diets.” The challenge is to reject the profane and to “develop personal disciplines to resist the impulse to fill our lives with vain spectacles.”

    The most urgent and penetrating aspect of this book concerns those who are bored with Christ and his gospel, a problem that appears to be an epidemic in this media-saturated generation. “In the digital age,” writes the author, “monotony with Christ is the chief warning signal to alert us that the spectacles of this world are suffocating our hearts from the supreme Spectacle of the universe,” Reinke adds:

    Reinke takes a page out of the C.S. Lewis playbook: “The worst trade in the universe is playing in the shallow pools of the world’s spectacles instead of diving deep for the treasures of eternal worth.” So, while Lewis’s “mud pies” attract the masses, most people turn a cold should to the “offer of a holiday at the sea.”

    is a timely book that is thought-provoking and deeply challenging. Reinke’s diagnosis and description of the visual dilemma is clear and sobering. The prescription he offers is convicting and compelling. The prescription for this visual tug-o-war is nothing less than being satisfied with all that God is for us in Christ Jesus. The author concludes:

    is a stunning book that will open many eyes. My prayer is that as the Spirit of God educates people through Reinke’s excellent work that they would, in turn, exalt the superior Spectacle, our Savior the Lord Jesus Christ. Then and only then will “the things of earth grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.”

    I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.

  • Kevin Halloran

    Great book!

    .

  • Ivan

    Seth Godin + Neil Postman + John Piper. I’m so thankful for this Christ-saturated book. I pray it’ll be used to wake us from our media stupor to behold the greatest Spectacle.

  • Rosalie

    The first part of this book is an unsettling look at the spectacles (past and present) that human nature in all it's depravity and idolatry create and enjoy.

    Then, Reinke goes on to challenge (not condemn or berate) the reader to treasure Christ and the spectacle of the cross, to say no to media and spectacles that would numb and shrink the soul and its ability to seek God and things unseen.

    A philosophical, Christ-centered, sobering, and clear-eyed book to challenge and encourage Christians to se

    The first part of this book is an unsettling look at the spectacles (past and present) that human nature in all it's depravity and idolatry create and enjoy.

    Then, Reinke goes on to challenge (not condemn or berate) the reader to treasure Christ and the spectacle of the cross, to say no to media and spectacles that would numb and shrink the soul and its ability to seek God and things unseen.

    A philosophical, Christ-centered, sobering, and clear-eyed book to challenge and encourage Christians to seek the glorious spectacle we were made for--Jesus Christ.

  • Jeanie

    Spectacles come in many shape or forms. Social media, news, even in a gathering as many pastors use media to hone in on a message. The text breaks downs those spectacles that become death to our souls or bring life. What is grabbing our attention and why? I think this is what I loved about this book. The reason is just as important as the what. This is not a text that slams social media but how is it used is what is in question. What do we need to let go and die. Spectacles have been around since Christ. The gladiators, the practice of Crucifixion and now we have social media where we can tear people apart. Nothing is new in the sun.

    Why a study on spectacles? That is a good question and from what I can see in my own life is worship. It affects how we view God and others. When we get caught up on a feed on facebook, do we see people or do we see our way is the right way. Do we see others that need the gospel? Or do we see ourselves as better. Do we see God's glory or mans?

    Spectacles can reveal what is in the heart of people. The hypocrisy, the shame. But can spectacles reveal something glorious? I think that is the best message of this text is that spectacles can make others beautiful. Can give us hope and a way to worship.

    Highly recommend

  • Tyler Eason

    In “Competing Spectacles”, Reinke gives us a much-needed reminder that what we behold transforms us. And in our modern, digital world, we’re constantly being sold a product that will ultimately pale in comparison to the riches we can experience in Jesus Christ. This book is a rare combination of theologically rich, immediately practical, and culturally savvy. Generally, if Reinke writes it, I read it, and this book is a prime example of why.

  • Matt

    Classic Reinke: immersive insight and doxological prose; his writing simultaneously submerges and soars. This is a well researched, culturally aware, Christ-enchanted little book. Medicine for our cultural moment.

  • Emily

    Lord, turn my eyes from worthless things.

  • Ryan Hawkins

    I very much enjoyed reading this. Reinke is uniquely skilled at surveying our screen-laden technological culture and then *seeing*. Through journalistic research combined with theological preciseness, he sees what the technology is, what it’s doing to us, and how we Christians should respond.

    I give this book 4 stars instead of 5 because I think *12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You* was clearly 5 stars, while I enjoyed this one a tad less. That being said, I think that’s because a) this book was a

    I very much enjoyed reading this. Reinke is uniquely skilled at surveying our screen-laden technological culture and then *seeing*. Through journalistic research combined with theological preciseness, he sees what the technology is, what it’s doing to us, and how we Christians should respond.

    I give this book 4 stars instead of 5 because I think *12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You* was clearly 5 stars, while I enjoyed this one a tad less. That being said, I think that’s because a) this book was a bunch of short chapters (which I don’t enjoy as much since it hurts my ability to immerse and learn), and b) this book was centered on one main idea of spectacles (and how the world’s spectacles compete with the Spectacle of Christ in the gospel), while *12 Ways* was more substantive.

    That being said, the theme of ‘spectacles’ in this book was quite clever. I knew in part what he was getting at by his title, but then once it started, I saw how very true this was: we truly are all about spectacles—and it’s not even a new issue. One of my favorite parts of the book was how many different authors and theologians throughout the ages he quoted on this idea of “spectacles”; it comes up frequently because it’s a large topic. And then he how he connected this to idolatry was great, too.

    Finally, I especially enjoyed the idea of “the age of the ear” for Christians as we make way for the future “age of the sight.” It’s a great reminder that we see the greatest Spectacle now through hearing—through engaging his glory in the message of the gospel, int her church, even in creation. But that one day, we will see by sight (as he had a great chapter on the beatific vision).

    More could be said. There are obviously dozens are great quotes. But overall, I just recommend anyone to read it themselves. It’s a shorter book, and the short chapters do make it easier to read. As said above, I’d recommend *12 Ways* more, but this was still solid and insightful. I’m a pastor, and so I’ll also be recommending this much in ministry as well.

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