Chuck Colson

Christians are meant to have an ongoing conversation with God. He addresses us in the language of Scripture, and we address Him through the language of prayer.

This emphasis on the Word has had a deep impact on Western culture. Reading was once confined to the elite. But it was the Reformation that first aimed at universal literacy, so that the Bible could be read by every person.

Today’s missionaries are similarly concerned with literacy. In nonliterate societies, they develop a written form of the native language and teach people to read the Bible.

They can then go on, of course, to read about anything—sanitation, health care, democracy—things that often transform their culture, much as the Reformation transformed Western culture.

Here in the West we are in danger of coming full circle: The visual media may ultimately undermine literacy. If that happens, can biblical faith still flourish?

Neil Postman’s writings remind Christians of the dangers of television. We need to learn when to turn it off lest we lose our historical reputation as the “people of the book.”

For further reading:

Neil Postman, University Professor of Media Ecology, dies at 72 ,” New York  University, 10 October 2003 .

Jonathan Zimmerman, “ Postman as Prophet ,” New York  Post, 12 October 2003 .

Peter Kavanagh, “ An echoing silence in his wake ,” Globe and Mail (Toronto), 11 October 2003 , R9.

Gene Edward Veith, “ Flex the brain ,” World, 1 November 2003 .

Jay Rosen, “ Neil Postman: A civilized man in a century of barbarism ,” Salon, 10 October 2003 . (Subscription required, or watch an advertisement to obtain a one-day pass.)

Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death  (Viking Press, 1986).

Neil Postman, The Disappearance of Childhood  (Vintage, 1994).

Gene Edward Veith, Reading between the Lines  (Crossway, 1990).

Neil Postman, “ Informing Ourselves to Death ,” speech given at a meeting of the German Informatics Society on October 11, 1990 .

Read more writings by Postman .

BreakPoint Commentary No. 030804, “ Our Shrinking Culture .”

C. John Sommerville, How the News Makes Us Dumb  (InterVarsity, 1999).

Thomas Hibbs, Shows about Nothing  (Spence, 1999) (read review).

Chuck Colson

Chuck Colson was the Chief Counsel for Richard Nixon and served time in prison for Watergate-related charges. In 1976, Colson founded Prison Fellowship Ministries, which, in collaboration with churches of all confessions and denominations, has become the world's largest outreach to prisoners, ex-prisoners, crime victims, and their families.
TOWNHALL DAILY: Be the first to read Chuck Colson's column. Sign up today and receive daily lineup delivered each morning to your inbox.