“The medium is the message.”
This quote is one of the most famous phrases in the discipline of Communication Studies, and was originally voiced by Marshal McLuhan, a media scholar from the Toronto school of Communication Theory.
His point is that how you say something is just as important as what you say. (Click to Tweet)
In many cases, it may end up being even more important.
Studying Communication is so important to me, and what I really love, because it allows me (and every Comm scholar) to understand where other people are coming from, and what they are trying to say through the words they choose to convey their message. I get very excited for each new class – a chance to share my passion with a new group of students, and a chance for us to learn together about what Communication Studies can mean together.
I have loved Communication Studies since my first Communication class at Nebraska Wesleyan University in 2005. It was at this small, private university that I first heard McLuhan’s words. They have been repeated throughout my journey to a PhD, but it is only now that I’ve first made a connection between McLuhan’s message and Jesus’s.
That statement may seem shocking and sad, but ETBU is my first school environment where the integration of faith and learning is placed at such a high priority.
It is refreshing, to be honest.
At so many public schools, and even some religious universities, professors (and professors-in-training) are encouraged, pushed, even threatened to take religion out of the classroom so that we don’t offend anyone.
In my first semester at ETBU, I was struggling to bring my religious views into class because I felt as if it had almost been beaten out of me. But now, with the opportunity to reflect on how my discipline relates to faith and Christianity, I am struck by the complete obviousness of it all!
Allow me to show you what I mean…
Jesus was God’s son, sent to earth to deliver God’s message of salvation – to COMMUNICATE it to us! (Click to Tweet)
He lived a perfect life, and focused on sharing God’s mercy with the world – communicating even still. A connection to my discipline if I’ve ever heard one.
But the connection that really hit me over the head when I started thinking about McLuhan’s emphasis on the medium, is that we are the medium that God has chosen to spread his message today. That was the plan all along…remember… the Great Commission…
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).
To make this idea even more concrete, let me put it another way. I am the medium that is charged with spreading the message of Jesus. You are the medium. All of God’s followers are His chosen medium.
If we return again to McLuhan’s idea that the chosen medium for communicating a message is extremely meaningful, it must be a big deal that God picked us. We are the medium here, after all.
But why? Why us? Studying communication shows us that people who really believe their message, or have experienced something themselves, are often the most effective at passing their passion along to others.
My former pastor used to use the analogy of restaurants: If you’ve eaten a great meal, and tell others about it, they will want to try out that restaurant too because you are so excited about it!
So, when I consider the importance of God picking US to be his medium, it makes me feel a lot of pressure to step up and do a better job. Also, I need to remember to trust myself, and God, and know that my excitement and passion will easily flow through trough my words.
After all, that’s how communication works.