20 May 5 Steps to Master the Art of Exposing Hidden Messages in Media
*This article is part of a series. The previous three articles can be found here: DEAR YOUTH LEADERS, PLEASE DROP THE POP CULTURE REFERENCES, THE MORAL OF THE STORY: THE HIDDEN MESSAGE YOU ARE MISSING IN MEDIA, and HOW TO WIN THE BATTLE AGAINST SECULARISM.
Back when I was leading in the business world, I used one of John Maxwell’s techniques to train employees to be self-sufficient and replace themselves by training others to do what they were already doing. It worked like a charm. There is no reason that this cannot work in our personal and spiritual lives as well. The pattern is fairly straight forward: 1) I do it. 2) I do it. You watch. 3) You do it. I watch. 4) You do it. 5) You do it. Someone else watches. See how it works? Pretty straight forward and certainly effective. Our specific goal in this article is to apply that pattern to the ability to recognize underlying messages (especially in media).
I do It
As obvious as this may sound, you must know how to do something for yourself if you are to teach others through your own example. Unfortunately, most of us have not been trained how to use critical analysis, let alone critical analysis of entertainment. However, there is good news. There are people who have been specially trained in these areas. Most of them operate in the field of apologetics. Those who identify as cultural apologists may be even better equipped. Seek out these leaders. Absorb their content. This type of thing is both caught and taught – so just start reading books, listening to lectures, and following their posts. It may take some effort, but the rewards for faithfulness to the process are unimaginable. Recognizing kingdom truths in a system built on lies truly has the power to set people free.
The reality is that most of the things taught in pop culture are popularized renditions of academic philosophies. (This will be addressed in the next article: “How to Reveal 5 Ant-Christian Philosophies You Already Believe”) Apologists, especially those who focus on modern cultures, are well aware of these various philosophies. They will help you recognize how these ideas trickle down from the elite academic sphere into the mass population, often through media, arts, and entertainment. As you begin studying these things, challenge yourself to recognize these ideas in the things you see and hear. Practice by yourself. Once you get more confident you can begin teaching others and pointing out your discoveries.
It Do It. You Watch.
Once you feel like you’ve got the hang of it, bring someone else in on the conversation. Start small. You may want to do a little research on the front end. As you go through point out to them some of the themes, messages, etc. Do this a few times, then give them a shot.
You do it. I watch.
Do some research on a particular show or song so that you’re prepared and then ask your new apprentice what they see or hear. Compare notes. They may notice some things that you hadn’t noticed. Good for them! It’s not a competition. Remember that we’re a team. Afterwards you can show them your research and see if they can recognize the themes, messages, etc. that you had discovered.
You do it.
At last, it is time to let your little birdie fly away. The good news is, you just replicated your new skill set in someone else! Now go and find someone else that you can teach.
You do it. Someone else watches.
Don’t abandon your old apprentice. Check up on them. Encourage them to duplicate the process. Share with them the five steps. This is discipleship 101. It can be used in any field – not just safeguarding against lies in the media. Use it freely and go make disciples of all nations!