Module Title: Media in the Church
Module Code: MED501
Credit Points: 20 Credits
Compulsory or Optional: Optional (Media pathway)
Excluded combinations or modules: None
Mode of attendance: Mixed
This module broadens the scope of study to consider how changing trends of religious observance, religious pluralism and secularisation shape the social and cultural climate in which religious groups engage with media. It will consider how the so-called ‘spiritual revolution’ is affecting the practice of religion in the West; address the question of ‘religious literacy’ and media representations of religion; and consider how trends of globalisation affect the theory and practice of communication.
On completion of this module, the successful student will be able to:
1. discuss specific and relevant ways that mass media have engaged with Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
2. examine and evaluate the language and narratives used in the media.
3. analyse the role of the media in religious cultures
This module will call for the successful student to demonstrate:
4. Analytical skills in critiquing the interface between religion and media in a given context.
This module introduces students to media studies and examines how scholars have studied the intersections of religion and media. Students will analyse how a selection of films, television shows and news magazines have depicted (represented) both specific religious groups and religion in general. Students will also examine the use of media, works that focus on how religion and media practices interact and influence each other in individuals’ lives. This will include how secular media deal with religion and how religious individuals and groups themselves employ media which affects the ways that religion is understood and the ways that religion can influence society. The module also aims to explore the history of religious communication in the media, focusing on journalism, film, and the Internet.
Learning, Teaching and Assessment Strategy
The course will delivered by means of lectures, video, book reviews and film critique. It will include a study of existing research in the field. Therefore books on journalism, film, and cyberspace are studied and videos watched to study broadcasting.
To complement the reading about media and religion, students will perform systematic research that will show how historical and theoretical dimensions of media and religion have worked out locally. Students will undertake focused research projects: one on religion and news, another on religion and film, and a third on religion and social media.
The first project students are introduced to Silk’s seven “topoi” to classify the religious news articles in a named Journal of religion and media. Students explain their observations of continuity or change in a named Journal which has reported religion over a span of a decade.
The second research project focuses on movies that have caused so much offense that protests, and sometimes calls for censorship, have resulted. The following films dealing with religion appear on online lists of the most controversial movies of all time, such as American Movie Classics’ “The 100 Most Controversial Movies of All Time,” aol-moviefone’s “Rattling the Masses: The 10 Most Controversial Religious Films,” Beliefnet’s “The Most Controversial Religious Movies of All Time,” and The Independent’s “Banned: The Most Controversial Films.” Unless noted otherwise, the controversial movies are available through Netflix. Students examine the controversy over one of these films (chosen with the lecturer’s approval)
The third research project is focussed on five closely related local religious groups (e.g., five Catholic churches, five synagogues, five Muslim institutions) that use social media such as YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter. (In order to avoid duplication, students should notify the lecturer of the research focus and must obtain written approval.). Students are to examine the groups use of social media according to the five elements of Harold Lasswell’s model of the communication process: Who? Says what? To whom? In which channel? To what effect? Both content analysis and interviews will be used. A written report based on this research will explain what function using social media serves for the chosen religious group.
• Project 1 (formative)
• Essay plan Project 2 500 words (formative assessment)
• Interview questions for project 3 (formative assessment)
• Essay Project 2 1500 words (summative assessment)
• Project 3 Report 2000 words (summative assessment)
Gould, M. (2013) The Social Media Gospel: Sharing the Good News in New Ways. Collegeville: Minnesota: Liturgical Press
Chester, T. (2012) Unreached: Growing Churches in Working Class and Deprived Areas. Leicester: IVP.
Garner, R. (2004) Facing the City: Urban Mission in the 21st Century. London: SCM
Sogaard, V. (1993) Media in Church and Mission: Communicating the Gospel Pasadena, California: William Carey Library
Ballard, P.H. (2008) The Church at the Centre of the City. London: Epworth Press
Conn, H. (2002) The Urban Face of Mission. Phillipsburg: P & R Publishing
Croft, S. (2008) Mission Shaped Questions: Defining Issues for Today’s Church. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Davey, A. (2010) Crossover City: Resources for Urban Mission and Transformation. London:
Green, L. (2003) Urban Ministry and the Kingdom of God. London: SPCK
Gibbs, E. and Bolger, R. (2006) Emerging Churches. London: SPCK
Goodhew, D. (2012) Church Growth in Britain. Surrey: Ashgate Publishing.
Jamieson, A. (2004) Mission Shaped Church: Church Planting and Fresh Expressions of Church in a Changing Context. Oxford: Blackwell.
Warren, R. (2005) Building Missionary Congregations. Oxford: Blackwell.
Young, M. (2014) Virtual Missionaries: How Virtual Missionaries Can Best Use Social Networking Sites to Evangelize Unbelievers and Edify Believers. Young Publishing Company
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