Reviews Of Books -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 41:1 (Fall 1978)
Article: Reviews Of Books
Author: Anonymous

Reviews Of Books

Muggeridge, Malcolm: Christ and the Media. Grand Rapids: Mich., Win. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1977, 127. $5.95.

Is each of the modern mass media a “message”, a “massage” or a mess and a major contributing cause of the mess of contemporary society? Mr. Muggeridge would seem to incline us to the latter as his “Christian” view.

The book comprises the 1976 London Lectures in contemporary Christianity delivered at the church whose former pastor, the Rev. John Stott, supplies the Preface and chaired the final lecture. The first lectures were chaired respectively by Sir Charles Curran, Director-General of the British Broadcasting Corporation and Sir Brian Young, Director-General of the Independent Broadcasting Authority. Each chairman’s speech and remarks are included plus the questions from the floor and responses at each lecture. Billy Graham writes a foreword and an annotated list of books on the media is appended.

The epithets abound pro and con Muggeridge’s style and substance but few would deny the impeccable fluency of his writing. Prior to his becoming a Christian his picric pen inveighed cynical invective against all and sundry: it has not lost its pointed potency but it now penetrates with more gracious charm.

In his Introduction Muggeridge describes himself as a veteran operator in the media, as one whose “pen and voice and face” have been featured during half-a-century. Many will question the rightness of his biting the hand that has fed him. Working in the media he calls a “fraudulent occupation” with its “built-in element of farce which keeps it teetering on the brink of absurdity.” He holds the media (especially television) up to ridicule and contempt, meanwhile continuing as a practitioner. He more or less drifted into television after considerable journalistic experience, notably as editor of Punch. He doubts whether or not television is debit or credit in our culture, stimulating, or merely reflecting ‘the growing depravity; window on the world, or a mirror reflecting our world’s absurdities.

He confesses that cupidity, vanity, and vainglory may have motivated him and that a sense of shame and desolation was often present. Through some changes within himself, however, he “came to detect … a golden thread of reality running through the fantasy of happenings and news about them.” This thread led him to realize “that the Kingdom not of this world proclaimed in the New Testament is, our true habitat” and that, conversely, the media presented “Good news for Satan’s Kingdom!”

He is amused at the amazement of friend and foe at his conversion, senility a...

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