Picture this: Amanda graduates from a Media and Communication Studies program and lands a job in UNICEF’s media department. She travels to Africa to produce a series of short pieces on how Ebola has affected the lives of children. Amanda arrives at her first location and meets her contact. She grabs the camera and looks around the location: a room with a child whose life has been overturned in a plague. If the first thing she thinks is, “Where should I put my camera,” then her education has failed her.
The Old Testament prophets said that we should attend to the cry of the orphan, the widow, the dispossessed, the prisoner, but, in Jesus, that cry has become the cry of God himself. We attend to the cry of refugees from Syria, to the cinematic utterances of First Nations peoples, and all others disenfranchised or marginalized. And in these cries we dare to hear the voice of God calling us to resist the temptation to make these people into our own Western, middle-class, Canadian image.
If the first thing she thinks is, “Where should I put my camera,” then her education has failed her.
The practice of listening to voices unlike our own is central to creating media with a Christian voice. Developing this discipline so we can create Christian media is also the central goal of Redeemer’s Media and Communication Studies program. We create media when we use a camera, set up lights, edit footage, design graphics, build websites, write for various platforms, negotiate the logics of social media, and even write code if need be.
As difficult, challenging, and necessary as these skills are, here at Redeemer they are not quite enough. The first question we want Amanda to ask is, “How does the Christ who cries the cry of the oppressed see this child?” That is the question that will eventually lead to a Christian vision. That is the question that is the first step to creating distinct and authentic, Christian media. When students graduate from this kind of program, the media they create will reflect the glory and hope of Christ. This Christian vision is how our alumni are, and will, make a difference in the world.
Dr. Naaman Wood, a professor in Redeemer’s Media and Communications program, gave this speech at the launch of the program in September 2015.