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The entertainment industry and evangelical Christianity have been moving towards one another for many years, and this generation has seem the resulting collision. When once these two strains of American culture seemed polar opposites, each has reached out to embrace the other in the last twenty years. It seems like an unlikely marriage, with VeggieTales' Saturday Morning TV show alongside other kids' shows with occult overtones and Ken Ham's Creation Museum casting aspersions on the secular science of the Smithsonian, but gone are the days of Christians' attempts to inject a faith-based ethic into the public eye.
Christian television shows are now featured on Christian television stations. Christian radio has followed a similar track, with satellite radio channels devoted to religion and discussion of religious issues. Christian recording artists are now featured in movie soundtracks and books from Christian publishers routinely show up on best-sellers lists. But the infiltration goes much deeper than these obvious examples, reaching into the subcultures of comic books, video gaming, theme parks and more.
Quentin Schultze, now decades into a career dedicated to revealing and communicating the parallel worlds of Christianity and ostensibly secular culture, brings together an all-star cast of writers dedicated to observing and commenting on faith's role in the media. With the able assistance of Robert Woods (who also co-writes a chapter with Schultze and contributes a chapter on Christian Worship Music), Schultze covers a vast amount of territory with the help of these experts to craft a panoramic portrait of 21st century American Christianity as seen through the eyes of the media.
As long as there has been a church, there has been Christian communication--"people of the book" bearing "the good news" from one place to another, persuading, teaching and even delighting an ever-broadening audience with the message of the gospel. Amid ongoing advances in technology and an ever-more-multicultural context, however, the time has come for a broad appraisal of the state of evangelical communications. Quentin Schultze and Robert H. Woods Jr. have assembled scholars from across the country to analyze and assess a wide range of media including
- popular music
- worship music and media
- church drama
- theme parks
- public relations
These shifting media, and the communications enterprise as a whole, are put in cultural and ethical perspective. Also addressed are Catholic and Jewish perspectives on the state of religious media. This project is ongoing. For additional resources and further conversation, visit understandingevangelicalmedia.com.
Quentin J. Schultze is the author of over a dozen books on the relationship between faith and communications. He serves as executive director of the Gainey Institute for Faith and Communication and as Arthur H. DeKruyter Chair in Faith and Communication at Calvin College.
Robert H. Woods Jr. holds a J.D. as well as a Ph.D. in communication studies. He teaches communication in the graduate program at Spring Arbor University in Spring Arbor, Michigan. His books include