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Products>Competing Spectacles: Treasuring Christ in the Media Age

Competing Spectacles: Treasuring Christ in the Media Age

, 2019
ISBN: 9781433563829


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We live in a world full of shiny distractions, faced with an onslaught of viral media constantly competing for our attention and demanding our affections. These ever-present visual "spectacles" can quickly erode our hearts, making it more difficult than ever to walk through life actively treasuring that which is most important and yet invisible: Jesus Christ. In a journalistic style, Tony Reinke shows us just how distracting these spectacles in our lives have become and calls us to ask critical questions about what we're focusing on. The book offers us practical steps to redirect our gaze away from the addictive eye candy of the world and onto the Ultimate Spectacle—leading to the joy and rest our souls crave.

Top Highlights

“For this project, spectacles is confined to its second meaning: a moment of time, of varying length, in which collective gaze is fixed on some specific image, event, or moment. A spectacle is something that captures human attention, an instant when our eyes and brains focus and fixate on something projected at us.” (source)

“In this ‘age of the spectacle’ (as it has been called4)—in this ecosystem of digital pictures and fabricated sights and viral moments competing for our attention—how do we spiritually thrive?” (source)

“What’s important to see in this project is that self-sculpting and self-projecting make social media an irresistible spectacle because we become the self-molded star at the center of it all. As a result of these cultural shifts, we each feel the shift from being to appearing. Our self-made images—our digital appearings—become everything.” (source)

“On this question I largely agree with Mike Cosper, who said that ‘chasing religious spectacles only makes sense in a disenchanted world. If we’ve primed ourselves to live in a world where God doesn’t show up, then we have to figure out how to make something happen on our own.’” (source)

“Why do we seek spectacles? Because we’re human—hardwired with an unquenchable appetite to see glory. Our hearts seek splendor as our eyes scan for greatness. We cannot help it. ‘The world aches to be awed. That ache was made for God. The world seeks it mainly through movies’” (source)

“Thirty years after Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death, Tony Reinke’s Competing Spectacles takes the impact-analysis of modern media to new levels: a new height and new depth. New height, because Christ crucified, risen, and reigning is brought into the discussion as the Spectacle above all spectacles. New depth, because the focus is not on what is happening to politics, but what is happening to the human soul. The conception of this book is not cavalier; it is rooted in the profound biblical strategy of sanctification by seeing (2 Cor. 3:18). The spectacle of Christ’s glory is ‘the central power plant of Christian sanctification.’ Ugly spectacles make us ugly. Beautiful spectacles make us beautiful. Reinke is a good guide in how to deflect the damaging effects of digital images ‘in anticipation of a greater Sight.’”
John Piper, Founder and Teacher, desiringGod.org; Chancellor, Bethlehem College & Seminary; author, Desiring God

“Tony Reinke has proven to be a wise guide for Christians through this era of technological whirl. Now with this accessible, sagacious book, he has done so again. This book shows us how to pull our eyes away from the latest viral video or our digital avatars of self and toward the ‘spectacle’ before which we often cringe and wince: the crucifixion of our Lord. That’s the spectacle we need.”
Russell Moore, President, The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention

“Tony Reinke has the prophetic knack of helping us see the truth about ourselves and our world. In these pages—as illuminating as they are disturbing and challenging—he stands in the tradition of the spiritual masters who have understood that the city of man’s—and woman’s—soul is often attacked and destroyed through eye-gate. But Competing Spectacles not only diagnoses our distorted vision; it prescribes spectacles that give us twenty-twenty spiritual vision. Essential reading.”
Sinclair B. Ferguson, Chancellor’s Professor of Systematic Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary; Teaching Fellow, Ligonier Ministries

“As a millennial who desires to abide in Christ while simultaneously engaging culture, I found this book incredibly helpful. The world seeks to captivate our attention through an endless stream of distractions, but Reinke encourages us to revive our hearts to the spectacle of Christ. I walked away encouraged to gaze upon the glory of the gospel, knowing it will reverberate through me and empower me to walk in Christlikeness.”
Hunter Beless, Founder and Executive Director, Journeywomen podcast

“Your time is limited. But you live in a world where digital eye candy, viral videos, national scandals, and social media are limitless—a world that competes for every split second of your attention. And you must train yourself both to focus and to ignore. Both are gospel skills in a battle between the diversions of our present age and our citizenship in the age to come. Every generation of Christians has faced this struggle, but never in a media-dominated culture like ours. So how can we meet the challenges and avoid the pitfalls of our day? Leaning on Scripture as the lens through which we view this digital age, Tony Reinke communicates in brilliantly lucid prose a proposal for how we can glorify our unseen Savior in this world full of sensory diversions.”
Bruce Riley Ashford, Professor of Theology and Culture, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; coauthor, The Gospel of Our King

“If this book helps readers to digitally detox and to unplug from all sources of media that threaten to drown us in noise and to rob us of the capacity to attend to the things that truly enable us to flourish as human beings, then it will only have begun to do its good work. Take the spectacles of God’s two books, Scripture and Creation, as John Calvin once called them, and learn to resee your life as God sees it. Take and read! Taste and see!”
W. David O. Taylor, Assistant Professor of Theology and Culture, Fuller Theological Seminary

“How to navigate the Christian life in a media-saturated culture feels more confusing than ever. Tony Reinke provides a dose of desperately needed clarity. Combining careful research with relevant application, this book is for anyone who wants to be more discerning and critically engaged in our culture—which should be every Christian!”
Jaquelle Crowe, author, This Changes Everything: How the Gospel Transforms the Teen Years

“Tony Reinke issues a grace-filled and prophetic call to examine ourselves as we navigate through a world of endless entertainment, spectacle, and distraction. Are we bored with Christ? Have we become suffocated by the superficialities of our society’s spectacles? Do we crave the freeing and fresh winds of spiritual fervor that come from gazing upon the life-transforming beauty of Christ and his Word? Pick up and read—at your own peril, and for your soul’s delight.”
Trevin Wax, author, This Is Our Time

“Decades ago, Malcolm Muggeridge helped us notice something: the Bible came down to us not through Dead Sea Videotapes but through Dead Sea Scrolls. Nor could videotapes have brought us the Word. Now today, with similar insight, Tony Reinke helps us notice something: beyond the media images daily surrounding us, tempting us, intimidating us, and defrauding us, Christ the Word welcomes us. Competing Spectacles can guide us back to reality, honesty, and calm, as we lift our eyes humbly to the Crucified One and pray, ‘Please show me your glory.’”
Ray Ortlund, President, Renewal Ministries

“Tony Reinke offers a succinct exposé of the threat that our image-saturated society poses to faith and to wisdom. Just as the noisiness of modern life so often prevents us from hearing God’s voice, so mass-mediated images blind us from seeing Christ in the church, in the world, and in the face of our neighbor. Reinke’s warning is that of the watchman who sees ‘the sword coming against the land.’ We’ll do well to heed his message.”
Craig M. Gay, Professor, Regent College; author, Modern Technology and the Human Future and The Way of the (Modern) World

Product Details

  • Title : Competing Spectacles: Treasuring Christ in the Media Age
  • Author: Reinke, Tony
  • Publisher: Crossway
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • ISBN: 9781433563829

Tony Reinke is a senior teacher for Desiring God, host of the Ask Pastor John podcast, and author of God, Technology, and the Christian Life (2022).


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    Digital list price: $14.99
    Save $5.25 (35%)