I wrote a chapter for a new book, Writing Theology edited by Eric D. Berreto.
Below is a portion of my chapter, “Writing Publicly”.
Please check out the entire book as it is an excellent read for those in seminary and for those interested in writing.
Writing Publicly by Grace Ji-Sun Kim
I grew up in the days of the door-to-door encyclopedia salesman. I remember the day when a clean-cut, well-dressed man knocked on our apartment door to sell the twenty-six volume World Book Encyclopedia. We were recent immigrants and could not speak English fluently. We had few worldly possessions and the last thing we needed in our home was a twenty-six volume encyclopedia. After the hour-long presentation, during which we flipped through the volumes full of exciting information, my dad said, “No.”
The salesman looked sad as he packed his sales kit. As he was walking out the door, he gave one last pitch and, suddenly, my dad changed his mind. He bought the whole set. Perhaps the salesman was persuasive. It is more likely that my parents had this compulsion that their children needed to know everything there is to know about the world. Maybe it was a bit of both.
In 2014, those twenty-six volume encyclopedias are long gone. The same is true of most other encyclopedias that once filled the bookshelves of many of my childhood friends’ homes. Now, we have everything that we need to know at our fingertips through iPads, computers, cell phones, and other technological gadgets. We live in a media-saturated society. We no longer need twenty-six volumes to help us understand the world. Now, all we need is a palm-sized gadget to find the latest news, the juiciest gossip, or up-to-date facts on anything under the sun.
We live in a society and culture where information can distract us all day long. How, for example, can some of us work at the computer with both Facebook and e-mail open and stand being pinged every time a friend supplies a comment to one of our most insightful posts? Things we may not want to read or watch seem to appear on our computer screens or on billboards as we drive along the highways. What does it mean for us, and especially for future generations, to live in a media saturated society with all this information and infomercials thrown at us? We need to be aware of the possibility of becoming overwhelmed by so many words, sounds, and pictures. We can waste hours on social networks, chatting with Facebook friends, checking Twitter, or just surfing the Net. The time can evaporate like the water in an unattended teapot on a flame. But I think there’s an even more pressing concern for us.
In a world so consumed by content and digital distractions, how do future leaders of the church participate in these sprawling but important conversations? How do we write publicly; that is, for an audience beyond our immediate circle of influence? And how do we do so in a way that takes the gospel and its impact on our lives seriously? One thing we cannot do is ignore these media. I know of a pastor who less than ten years ago saw no reason whatsoever in learning how to send and receive e-mail. He saw it as a skill like using a fax machine. Why should he bother to learn how to do either when he had secretaries to do that for him? Of course, that pastor grew increasingly distant from members of his congregation who made good use of e-mail.
In these times of rapid technological and social change, we must adapt. In an age of media and information saturation, we too need to participate and immerse ourselves in such places. After all, this is precisely where God and God’s Spirit is moving in new and transformative ways today. If we are to be proclaimers of God’s good news, then these are the media and places and means by which we can meet the high calling of God to speak a word of grace, joy, and love in a world where we have become too impatient to wait for any of these most precious gifts of God…..
Chapters written by:
Adam Copeland, David Garber, Jacob Myers, Raj Nadella, Richard Newton, Malinda A. McGarrah Sharp, Karyn Wiseman, Angela Yarber.
Grace Ji-Sun Kim is an Associate Professor of Theology at Earlham School of Religion. She is the author of Embracing the Other (forthcoming); Here I Am; Christian Doctrines for Global Gender Justice co-edited with Jenny Daggers; Theological Reflections on “Gangnam Style” co-written with Joseph Cheah; Reimagining with Christian Doctrines co-edited with Jenny Daggers; Contemplations from the Heart; Colonialism, Han and the Transformative Spirit; The Holy Spirit, Chi, and the Other; and The Grace of Sophia. She is a co-editor with Dr. Joseph Cheah for the Palgrave Macmillan Book Series, “Asian Christianity in Diaspora”.