Sunday, August 10, 2014

Words versus Media – David, Goliath and the Book on the Golden Calf. By Brian Maunder

I did something amazing and revolutionary a few weeks ago.

Realising that the whole family had somehow come under the mesmerising powers of the new big screen TV, I put it out into the back shed. The kids were mortified. Oh the shock. Oh the horror.  What are we going to do now?

It was an interesting experiment and the range of activities and fun things that eventuated from not having a TV was a delight. Suddenly we were proactive in creating new ways to live. We actually talked with each other, read books, played games together, wrestled and enjoyed our lives… our real lives.

The devotion we had towards our TV was much akin to idol worship. We spent hours in front of it. It changed our psychology as we gazed on its tantilising flashing screen. We gathered around it and asked others to watch it with us. We loved it. Our lovely TV.

But TV has many brothers and sisters. PC games, iPhones, internet communities, apps, etc. etc. ad infinitum.  They are so prevalent that it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to get away from their penetrating gaze and psychological hold. We “live, breathe and have our being” under their powerful influence.  We love our media. Our lovely media.

But media, and all their delivery devices, is a man-made construction. It lies completely outside of the natural world, relying totally on the ideas that come from the people who create it.

When people create something, it is only natural to want to share that creation. My young children get great joy in sharing the creative projects they have poured their efforts into. That’s the thing about creating something. It comes from us. It is personal. It is an expression and extension of our passions, ideas and psyche.

From cars, to music, sport to fashion, houses to … books… we give our lives in time and toil to create. Then we stand back and marvel in what we have created and get great satisfaction from our achievements. We gather people to look at what we have created and relish in their praise of it.  It reminds me of that famous scene in Exodus when the people, bored with waiting on God, decided to make an idol for themselves.

“They have made for themselves a golden calf and 
have worshiped it and sacrificed to it”. (Exodus 32 v 8)

Christian writers (and writers in general) are facing a David and Goliath battle. For people to read (and I mean properly read i.e. beyond texting messages), they have to have a few things. Firstly, they have to have time to read. They also have to have a reason to read and a desire strong enough for them to do something incredible... turn away momentarily from the all-pervasive, exciting, tantalising media that dominates our world.

The media Goliath offers games and big screen TV’s with surround sound explosions, interactive social media type gaming communities, films, toys and paraphernalia, rides and theme parks.

Writers only have words… (and maybe a few illustrations).

And the media Goliath has another advantage. He has no God but himself and therefor flourishes in the secular world. The secular stronghold that governs our land of Australia, and keeps Christians “in check” thwarts gospel communications in various subtle ways. Any form of public religious communication must be squeezed through a tube of political correctness as to not offend.

As Christian writers, the challenge is immense and the stakes are high. The challenge is immense as we only have words and many don’t want to hear a Christian message in our secular world. The stakes are high because without the gospel, the world is doomed to be slaves of the gods of their own creation.

To be effective, Christian writers need to excel in their craft.  Authors will need to invest more time, effort and skill into what they do, devoting themselves more fully to the projects they create so that what they create can become increasingly awesome.  And therein is the great danger. As we invest more and more of ourselves into our projects, our Christian creation can become our idol. Our god. 

Then David picked up his wooden staff. He went down to a stream and chose
five smooth stones. He put them in the pocket of his shepherd's bag.
 Then he took his sling in his hand and approached Goliath. (1 Samuel 17 v 40)

I think young David gives us a great illustrative example on how to approach our 21st Century media Goliath. He quietly chose a few stones from the stream, an image of baptism and reliance on God. He invested time in quietness and solitude to select what he needed in the battle.  As David writes in Psalm 23 “He leads me beside the quiet waters”.

David valued the stones he chose. He knew he needed them for the battle and had developed skills in using them. However, David never worshipped those stones. For them to be effective he had to throw them away. In order for them to reach the target he had to release them and trust completely that God would use them. He loved God first and trusted the outcome to Him.

As Christian writers… emphasis on Christian here…  time away from our craft is critical. Our devotion and meditations needs to be on Jesus and it is important (especially to writers) to not always keep these meditations of God tied to words.

Of anything beyond these, my child, beware. Of making
 many books there is no end, and much study
 is a weariness of the flesh. (Ecclesiastes 12 v 12)

There are many ways to meditate on God that do not involve words, from gardening to church activities, sacraments and the many disciplines that train our soul to gaze in adoration and wonder on the beauty of our Lord. Time away from words and given to God, the “Living Word”, will illuminate our very being and restore our souls.

Good people bring good things out of the good they stored in their hearts. 
But evil people bring evil things out of the evil they stored
 in their hearts. People speak the things that are in their hearts.(Luke 6 v 45)

So, the Christian writer, armed only with words, approaches the impressive media Goliath in a secular world.  Will those words have any impact at all? Will they reach those who are under Goliath’s control? Will the loving words of the gospel be communicated somehow through what is written? 

Ultimately, the battle is the Lords and we trust the outcome to Him. Time spent with Jesus teaches us that we don’t approach the Goliath with words alone. We advance steadily with hearts and souls filled with the living all powerful loving creator God of the universe. We approach the Goliath with lives transformed.  This is what it means to be a Christian Writer.

Brian Maunder is the author-illustrator of the 
childrens picture book Polly's Little Kite.


  1. Hi Brian - Thanks for such a thought-provoking post. And I love your cartoons too :) I think it has becoming increasingly difficult to encourage people to read books when there's so much media vying for our attention these days. And as we know, quantity certainly doesn't mean quality. I'm guilty of watching way too much TV. However, people still love a good story. If Christians can write great books, scripts, poetry, plays, songs etc, we can have a tremendous influence for God's Kingdom. But you're so right about not letting it become an idol. Thanks for sharing. Lots of food for thought in that post :)

    1. Thanks Nola. This is probably my first serious attempt at Blogging. I know it was a bit too lengthy however i had to make up for the blog I missed last time. LOL.. I tried to keep it brief but i had in my heart a number of things i felt i wanted to say and then tried to bring them all together into a soupy coherent jumble. Hopefully it worked.. A good learning experience for me. Thanks for the opportunity. .

  2. Thanks for that post, Brian. It's a great encouragement and motivator for writers - and cleverly done. No doubt kids love your book. Keep up the good work.

  3. Thanks Carol. I'm glad you thought it an encouragement for writers. I hope it is... although.. when i said that authors should get away from words, for a while i thought to myself... Am i sane??.. authors who write words will be reading this. :-) Hopefully my comic at the end summarises that what writers do can have great affect as Goliath succumbs to the force of the writer, sits down and enjoys a book.

  4. Thank you, Brian, for such a thoughtful post. I think you demonstrated well what you wrote about ie you obviously put much time and effort into saying well what you felt was important as a Christian writer. I am especially grateful for your reminder towards the end of your blog that we need time away from our writing to focus on God and be refreshed in our spirits. Having just finished another manuscript, I can relate well to that. Love the illustrations too--especially that last one!

    1. Thank you so much Jo-Anne....Its a strange thing ... sometimes i like to go for a 2-4 hour hike and i have discovered it takes a good hour at least to stop the internal dialogue within my brain to quiet down enough to the point where i can actually listen to the silence. I cant imagine how long it would take if i were a professional writer.. LOL.. thanks so much for your encouragement.

  5. Hi Brian,
    That Goliath is huge indeed, in these days when the variety of screens are so portable and affordable. The Davids can feel helpless in the face of it, especially Aussie Davids in a big world, but thanks for reminding us that the battle is worth fighting and can be won. I loved the pictures in this post too.

    1. Hi Paula. I'm glad you like the pictures... I love comics. I think that sometimes they can say things i could never express in words. Yes... The Goliath is huge.. and with two kids of my own i can see how important parents are in regard to monitoring how much screen time they get. I'm quite new to the world of christian authors and it has been incredible and wonderful to see the scope of talent and ideas that christian writers have. Its such an important field to develop and i think its great that we can encourage each other in the shadow of the giant media man. Thanks for your comment.

  6. Thanks so much for such an insightful post, Brian. I also enjoyed those intuitive cartoons.
    Oh yes, it's just to easy to get caught up in the world outside our own sphere through the square-eyed dictators(includes them all) who demand our allegiance. Thanks for your reminder to use self discipline with our precious time.

    1. Thanks Rita. Its difficult to turn off the tele... actually TV isn't a prob for me... Facebook is my weakness... I'm glad you liked my first serious blog.. even though i hope people had a laugh as well... that's what the comics are for... personally i think the first one is hilarious (and I'm allowed to laugh at my own jokes because that what dads do).. thanks for your comment as the feedback is very encouraging... God Bless.

  7. Great post Brian. Thanks for sharing. Well done for having the courage for moving the TV out of your home. I know your family will reap many great rewards through it. In this age of technological advance - we lose out so much of our creativity thanks to the TV, computers, phones, games and what not. And yes, I do believe that time with God is crucial if we want to be Christian writers of depth. Thanks for sharing.

    1. True Anusha... I watched a show on ABC recently (ironically LOL) called 'Life at 9" and they proved that all this TV etc. actually dumbs down the creative spark in kids. Its so important for them to experience the real world and experiment and try things in the real world. This develops creative thinking. An interesting TV show hehehe... Thanks so much for you thoughts and comments too. :-)