Monday, November 8, 2010

Sponges, Funnels, and Sieves

I'm doing a three-week media discernment series with our high school students this month, and I've found one great illustration that really captures the different ways to consume media. The illustration is adapted from a quote by a Jewish rabbi about learning and education.

The series is built from a few theological foundations. First, all truth is God's truth. Anything true we find in a film, song, or YouTube clip is only true as it relates to the reality of God. Second, Scripture is the lens for finding truth. Out of any other authority, using God's Word and discernment from the Holy Spirit is how we engage media in healthy ways. Using passages like Philippians 4:8, Colossians 3:17, and 1 Corinthians 10:23-33, we discern what is healthy and unhealthy, life-giving and life-draining, glorifying to God and detracting from God.

We can consume TV, music, movies, the Internet, or any other form of media in one of three ways:

  • Sponges: A sponge soaks up everything, taking in both the good and the bad, not really thinking about whether or not the media they're consuming is God-honoring. It's mindless consumption of media, the careless "I do what I want" attitude that is more friends-driven, commericial-driven, or just self-driven rather than God-driven. A sponge assumes that "all things are permissible" without thinking about whether the media is beneficial or harmful to themselves or others. This is the mindset that leads teens to just watching whatever their friends watch, going to see a film on opening day "just because," or listening to music but not really listening to the words.


  • Funnels: A funnel lets all media pass them by, retaining nothing either because a) they are avoiding all media, or b) they are opposed to the limited media they are exposed to. It's mindless evasion, pointing out only the flaws in media or becoming a sort of media hermit. This is the mindset that leads teens to destroying all their "secular" CDs, only watching "safe" Christian TV programs and films, or making hyperbolic judgment calls on other Christians who see any R-rated movies.


  • Sieves: Otherwise known as a strainer or colander, strainers are careful to filter every media they consume. They are mindfully engaged with their media, holding fast to everything good and avoiding every kind of evil. They have a filter in place--Scripture--to be able to think about the messages in the media and how this leads them closer to or further away from Jesus. Strainers are never apathetic about their media, nor do they simply consume everything in order to critique it. Instead, using Spirit-given wisdom, they make conscious choices about the media they consume and think carefully about how the messages are affecting their mind and heart.

When I teach this, I use an actual sponge, funnel, and strainer. I have three glasses of water--representing media--filled with bright yellow plastic BBs--representing truth. As I share about each way to engage media, I pour the glass through the sponge, funnel, and strainer. The sponge catches both water and BBs; the funnel lets it all pass through; the strainer catches the BBs and lets the water pass. It's a great illustration of using Scripture as our filter for how we engage the media we consume.

So what are you: a sponge, a funnel, or a sieve?

1 comment:

  1. great illustration, love object lesson to get students thinking...thanks for sharing

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