Competing Spectacles

Competing Spectacles: Treasuring Christ in the Media Age
Tony Reinke
Crossway, 2019

I made two wrong assumptions about this book.
Given the title, and given Reinke’s previous book (12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You – which I haven’t read), I assumed this book was going to be mostly about social media. However, after 24 pages Reinke states that because he wrote that book, he’s not going to belabour social media in this one.
I also assumed that he was using ‘spectacles’ in the sense of glasses – but actually he’s not using the word to mean things you look through, but things you look at. So advertising, BMX events, autoplaying videos, terrorism, the American Presidential race – they’re all spectacles, all calling for our attention.
However these must all pale into insignificance in light of the greatest spectacle – the cross. This is a spectacle for the ear, not for the eye, as faith comes by hearing. This spectacle is seen by faith when the cross is preached (Gal 3:1). ‘Bible movies and cinematic recreations of the cross add nothing to the spectacle of the cross and too often take away from it’. In a later chapter, which will further cheer those who hold to a Reformed view of the second commandment, he includes the helpful quote ‘God wants…exclusive rights to the production of images’. He adds that ‘images…call out for a response’ and ‘images will inevitably take on a life of their own no matter how innocent the purposes of their creators’.
So in many ways it’s not the book I expected – and that’s no bad thing! Not essential, but will be helpful for many.

Thanks to Crossway for a complimentary copy of this book through their Beyond the Page review programme.