They Warned Us, But We Didn’t Listen

There were mainline leaders who cautioned
against withdrawing from the media, but they were not listened
(I am posting a series of thoughts on the disengagement of the mainline denominations from mainstream media over the past thirty years that results in the absence of the mainline voice from the public dialogue. This is the eighth installment.)

There were leaders who cautioned against this withdrawal. Among them were Dr. William F. Fore, associate general secretary of the Communications Commission of the National Council of Churches and an internationally-recognized analyst and producer. His byline often appeared in TV Guide, at that time the major publication covering broadcast television for mass readership. Dr. Everett C. Parker of the United Church of Christ was a tireless, effective public policy advocate for an open, inclusive media, winning as often as losing his challenges to the Federal Communications Commission.

The Rev. Dennis Benson, who continues to produce for radio, said in 1990, “The future media terrain will feature life which is both radically different and very much the same. Huge technological and social shifts will flood every person?s life. The present church?s non-efficient building, awesome hierarchies dedicated to clergy and irrelevant worship and programming will serve only a few or disappear entirely. A new Christian spirituality will replace today’s denominational religion. The intermix of omnipresent media, isolated individuals, and convulsing society will be transformed into fresh faith expressions by Jesus Christ for the age.”

His prediction is more than prescient. Much of it is right on target describing the current state of culture, spiritual search and religion.

But even with these acclaimed leaders, effective programs, and valiant misfires like VISN, the mainline retreat picked up steam. I’ll say why I believe this happened in the next post.

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