“How can we create more openness in our families when it comes to discussing our Internet activities and our use of media time? What agreements can we make with each other to put this into practice?” These are just two of the many discussion questions we read in the book, A Pilgrim in Media Land. This book, authored by Mr. Steef de Bruijn and Mrs. Henrieke Hoogendijk-van Dam, is originally written in the Dutch language as an initiative of the Driestar Christian University and the Erdee Media Group. The Modern Media Committee from the Lethbridge NRC has, with the permission of the authors, translated and published this book to be used in our denomination. We are thankful for this effort.
Much has been spoken and written already about modern media. In our Reformed circles we have always been very reluctant and cautious to use modern media like the Internet. We realize, however, that we cannot stop this development anymore, not even in our circles. Almost all of our families have an Internet connection to be used as a resource in schools and business life. Consequently, therein lies the danger that it gets used too much and in the wrong way. Therefore, this book is intended to be a guide for the proper use of modern media and to warn against the misuse of it. The title is well chosen as it clearly implies that we are in media land. There are many available devices which have good uses; nevertheless, there undoubtedly are also many traps and dangers.
Therefore, the authors take us by the hand in our journey through modern media land. They do that in a very appealing way. In eight chapters they provide a lot of information about many topics related to modern media. Repeatedly, they do this using attitude keywords such as temperance, consistency, reflection, and faithfulness. In a tender but honest way, they do not shy away from the practical dangers of appealing and alluring sins which have such devastating consequences. Therefore, each chapter starts with a real-life scenarios which can easily be recognized by parents and educators in raising our children and youth.
At the end of each chapter are questions for discussions. The vocabulary used by the authors should not keep us from reading this book because it is “to the point” and easy to follow. Most importantly, time and again we read the question, “What does the Bible say?” Based on specific Bible texts, the authors want to guide us in an honest and biblical way through media land and point us to a proper lifestyle. They realize that not everything is said when only warnings are given. “A Christian is characterized by watchfulness and resilience. Therefore, it is not enough only to point young people to the dangers of the web. It is important that we also demonstrate how to use modern media in a positive way. In this way, we can demonstrate to teenagers how we live as a Christian in a digital world.”
We were pleased to read that the authors realize that even with having everything in place to warn, inform, and protect, we still need heart-renewing grace. The hope for our day and age, for our youth and families, lies not in man, not in filters, but in the Lord who continues to gather His people until the last one has been added to His kingdom. Daniel and his friends also lived in the world but by grace did not want to be of the world. We read that Daniel had an inner room where he sought strength in God. He realized, like Jehosaphat, that in us there is no strength “against this great company,” but his eyes were upon the Lord. Daniel also knew that in order to fight this battle we have to use the means available to us. We do not battle against flesh and blood but against many spiritual enemies.
Finally, the authors see this book as “a small introduction to media attitudes and media wisdom.” We wholeheartedly agree with their wish that “our children see us living the life of a true pilgrim” and receive the desire to become such a true pilgrim themselves. Therefore, we cannot endorse the use of social media, and encourage all to stay away from social media such as Instagram and Snapshot because of the many dangers and waste of time associated with the use of social media.
Yet, we would like to see this book in the hands of our families and office bearers to build awareness. May the Lord use it to open many eyes for the manifold dangers inherent to the modern media. By nature, our own hearts are so connected to these dangers that we need the grace that is found in Him who still has a willing people in the day of His power. Such people may delight in God’s commandments. Do we recognize ourselves as being one of these people?
The book is available from local modern media committees or church book rooms.
—The Synodical Modern Media Committee
Rev. E. Hakvoort, Chairman
Elder John Van Zweden, Secretary