Infinite Bandwith. Encountering Christ in the Media
Eugene Gan. Infinite Bandwith. Encountering Christ in the Media . Emmaus Road 2010.
What does this book offer that is lacking in recent publications about the
relationship between Christians and the media?
Perhaps the good deal of practical wisdom in less than 150 pages. Many
works have already been written on the relationship between the way of
living out one’s faith and the means of communication. However, this one
offers a fresh perspective because it integrates some principles offered in
Church documents with the way of personally living out the virtues in the
context of global media; and, it includes sound criteria for educating
Eugene Gan, Associate Professor for Interactive Media at the Franciscan
University of Steubenville (USA) writes from an explicitly Christian
viewpoint. The book is geared towards his students and supported by Church
official texts. However it provides a valid ethical orientation for those
of different religious beliefs because it essentially proposes a series of
keys for media users to live out the virtues.
Gan identifies seven keys for living a relationship with the media, taking
the different dimensions of the person into account: balance, attitude
awareness, the dignity of the human person, truth-filled, inspiring,
skillfully developed, motivation by and relevant to experience. The book
focuses on explaining each one of these concepts so that they are presented
as means for anyone to live out this relationship with the media in an
adequate and enriching manner.
Each chapter describes the key concept and its application in five phases:
pray, research, ask questions, integrate, and pass it on. The author’s
proposals endeavor to explain that, in order to live properly, it is not
enough to simply know where good can be found or what the general criteria
for acting are. The passions and difficulties to living out one’s faith in
a given context already exist.
The book emphasizes that it is necessary to rely on the supernatural means
(grace, through prayer) in order to live the virtues. The need for certain
human resources are also brought to light, such as reflection, a personal
examination on one’s habitual connection with the media (time,
relationships, aim, content), and last but not least, the active proposal
to share this way of life with others. This is why in each phase the author
includes a list of questions and guidelines that cover a wide range of
topics and may help the reader’s personal experience.
What am I looking for with this media? How does this enrich or limit my
relationships with others? How is this affecting me? Do I have criteria
for selecting films? How is good and evil presented? What media
contents can spiritually or morally harm me? Which ones can enrich me?
Ultimately, the idea that penetrates the reasoning behind the whole book is
that the means of communications are wonderful and enriching when we “live”
them, as common users or professionals, taking into accounts their moral
dimension. In other words, one must consider all that develops the
potentialities of the human person and leads him to the good, to the truth.
The quality of the media- the truth-inspired content- can enhance the
growth of the persons who avail of these media, through a proportional and
balanced use that knows how to integrate them into other aspects of life.
At the moment of deciding to which media we will approach for entertainment
or for the activities that we carry out through them, it’s necessary to
analyze what is offered and the way in which it perfects or harms people.
From a different perspective and in the media context, the author in some
way reminds us of the three sources of the morality of human actions: the
object, the intention, and the circumstances. As support for his moral
evaluations, he offers citations of the teachings of the Church that are
suitable for the world of communications.
Among the possible drawbacks of the book, it can be said that there is a a
definite attempt to excessively fit everything into the seven key concepts.
There is some forced reasoning or forced relationships created in attempt
to assign a virtue to every key, even adding the three theological virtues
and the four cardinal virtues. Without a doubt, the book gives some ideas
on how to live these virtues in the media context, but at times, it is
difficult to capture the relationship that is established between the
virtue and its corresponding key. Furthermore, some examples used to
illustrate the explanations are excessively centered on cinematographic
movies, including some concepts about the representation of good and evil
that would require a deeper and more rigorous analysis.
The book is addressed to a vast public, but is especially helpful for
scholars and parents because it looks at the media with sympathy, but
without naivety. At the same time, it helps one reflect about the role that
the means of communication have in ordinary life, proposing some practical
ideas that one can live and use to educate others.