Megachurches and the Media

Thousands of people with one common purpose.  Megachurches are churches that are growing in both senses of the word; size and prominence.  The megachurches are getting bigger and are becoming more popular.

A meeting about megachurches and the role media plays in them took place in LaRose Theater this past Monday.  A megachurch is a church that has at least 2,000 members.  The speakers present were Tim Riddle from St. Mark’s Church, Ken Garfield from Meyer’s Park Methodist Church, and Reverend Dr. Sir Walter Mack from Union Baptist Church.

The presence of different types of media in megachurches is a necessary one, but Mack says that the emphasis must always be on the infrastructure of the church.  He says, “When you talk about music and programming, all those things are critical and important but must have systems to operate within.”  He says you can’t get away from the message you are trying to give.

Megachurches are operated in a way similar to that of a big business.  Garfield says, “We have an annual budget of $5 million, and we use that money to promote our church and we do act as a big business.”

Riddle agrees with Garfield, saying, ““A lot of the principles I use in a megachurch are principles I used in the marketplace.”

Mack says that many problems can arise with having bigger numbers and a larger congregation.  He says “We have a team of lawyers on staff, because people are always ready to sue a megachurch.”

Megachurches have a number of outlets for media outreach.  Riddle says that they don’t have a lot of local media coverage, but says, “the negative comments only come from people who have never attended a service.”

Mack says that the Union Baptist Church does a fair amount of its advertising in more secular areas.  “We aren’t trying to reach the people who are already a part of our community.  We’re trying to reach those who aren’t and may be looking for something that we can offer.”

Modern culture is influencing the ways in which megachurches messages are being relayed.  Riddle says that it’s tricky.  “We use technology to communicate God as clearly as possible without distraction.  If people remember the technology instead of the message, we went over the line,” he says.

Mack says, “The energy is the hook, but between that there are messages portrayed that are received by the people.”  He also says we live in an ADD society, and we need to keep people’s attention somehow.

Technological problems can happen, and that is one concern with Megachurches.  Mack says, “With anything that can happen with technology, you can and should prepare for that.”

Second Life, or First Life?

After a hard days work, it’s nice to be able to come home, sit down and relax, maybe have a cold one, and spend time with your friends who know you best.

Not when the friends that know you best aren’t people you’ve ever met face-to-face, but instead through a computer screen.  Second Life appears to be one way for people to avoid reality, to live a life that doesn’t exist for them or for others.

My experience in Second Life was not a pleasant one.  I often ran into people who were unresponsive and rude, if I ran into anyone at all.  As a “newb,” I was looked down upon by most that I met as someone not worth their time.

In the real world, if I need help at something and I ask, the person is usually able to help.  If not, they direct me to someone who can assist me.  In Second Life, this was not the case.  I asked multiple people where a cool place to “hang out” was, or how to do something, or what was going on.  The responses I often received were none at all, or maybe a rude laugh before walking off.

The answers and advice that I did receive was often very basic and what I knew, probably from people who pitied me.  They didn’t go into the detail or even answer the correct question most of the time, treating me like a baby who needed to have the smallest things spelled out to me.

Suffice to say, the time I spent in Second Life was very frustrating and not enjoyable at all.  People didn’t treat me as they would in reality.  Second Life creates a barrier behind which people can behave differently because they don’t fear the consequences.  I was no exception.  I went to places I wouldn’t have, I did things I wouldn’t have, and I said things I normally wouldn’t have.  I also treated people differently than I would have had I met them on the streets.

Second Life gives people the means to recreate themselves into someone that they’re not.  It tempts people who use it on a regular basis to become what they aren’t.

Zoo Changes

The animal population at the Freeport’s Newman Memorial Zoo may be seeing some subtractions along with their recent additions.  Cyrus Tucek, the zoo’s director, has said they are considering birth control for the tigers as he also announced the purchase of two new animals, a 6,000 pound female African elephant and a burro.

The female tigers have been producing litters of 3 to 5 cubs every 10 months and the zoo has no room for them.  And no other zoo will take them.  “They’re full up, too, and are using a time-release contraceptive implanted under the skin for females and vasectomies for males,” says Tucek.  Because of this, Tucek said that the zoo is heavily considering the use of birth control so they can control their tiger population before they have no more room.

The new African elephant has been named Baby and was bought from the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago.  The name for the burro, which is being added to the Children’s Zoo, is from northern New Mexico and will be named by the children who visit the zoo.  Names will be put up on the website and the children will get to vote.  The choices are between Pancho, Eeyore, Captain B., Secretariat, Cyrus, Mr. Cronkite and Cyrano.  These animals will soon be on display once they become accustomed to their surroundings.

Elon Transfers

While some people may not believe that Elon University is the place for them, there are some from other schools who hope that Elon can be the home they weren’t able to find elsewhere.

Prospective transfer students Tom Anderson, freshman, and Chris Carmichael, sophomore, both feel that Elon is not the place for them.  They don’t think that it offers them the opportunities they want and need to succeed in the real world.  Tom Anderson says he hopes to transfer to Temple University’s Tokyo, Japan Campus because the students there are “more academically motivated and more in tune to my personal interests.”

Chris Carmichael says he has multiple options, with University of Virginia being his top one.  He says the reasons for his transfer includes “the fact that I feel like Elon won’t provide a competitive enough environment similar to real world conditions. I feel that UVA would better equip me with classes and environment that are fit for the business world.”  He doesn’t like the close one-on-one interaction between students and faculty.  He feels that in the real world, you won’t have someone there to hold your hand every step of the way, and he wants to attend a school that provide more opportunities to succeed on one’s own.

On the other end, Erika Flashburg is a sophomore who transferred to Elon after one year at Connecticut College.  She says that “I was reluctant in the beginning to accept the change, but now I am happy.“  Originally, Erika hadn’t wanted to transfer, but now she believes that this is the place for her.  She has found the place that she thought she had but now realizes that she was lacking.

“Elon Tonight” to air next semester

The highly anticipated show “Elon Tonight,” the latest addition to Elon Television’s lineup, will start airing next semester, with a whole new comedy lineup that should appeal to all, modeled after the popular “Saturday Night Live.”

Executive Producer Chris Bosak and co-creator Ashlee McCullock both promise that the first season of the new show will be one worth waiting for.  With the good reception the show’s pilot received, the leaders are excited for the new season and everything to come.

“Our ‘Real World: Elon’ sketch will be continuing, keeping it as an ongoing drama in each episode,” said Chris Bosak.  There is going to be a new surprise and twist to each one, but he wouldn’t say what it will be, not wanting to ruin it for those who are waiting for the show.

The show’s musical portion featuring “Project Halcyon” will also be a recurring presence on the show.  It will be much like Andy Samberg and his digital short videos, comedic music ones.

“We’re really looking forward to it, we’ve got a lot of great ideas for our next season that we think people will love,” said Ashlee McCullock.

Bosak said that he hopes to be able to incorporate special guests into the show.  “Down the line, I hope to have musical guests and special appearances by big names on campus.”

One of the sketches they hope to have next year is one modeled after the “Saturday Night Live” sketch “Weekend Updates.”  It would be called “Phoenix Updates” and it would be one-liners making fun of the hot news stories.

Chris Bosak and Ashlee McCullock are very excited about the upcoming school year and the show’s first season, and beyond.  As should everyone who is a fan of Saturday Night Live.

Here is my latest DMC project.  It was our last photography one, and it was portraits.  Which were just pictures of people.

Without further ado.

Thanks to the beautiful Alyssa Brown for this one. Taken at one of her favorite places on campus, the archway in the wall of shrubbery that she calls “The Gate To Narnia.”

One of my favorites.  Thanks to my good friend Anthony Phillips-Spencer.   Taken at a bench behind Alamance.

My 11th favorite person in the world, Emily Banks.  Taken at a bench by the lake outside of Harden.

Thanks to Nathan Edge, another of my good friends.  Taken in a tree behind Alamance.

Thanks to the contemplative, non-conforming Sarah Turner.  Taken at the base of a tree right beside the lake.

As a potential research topic within the communications field, I think it would be really interesting to research the impact a live audience has on a show.  How it changed the style of television shows, how the show incorporates them, why they’re different and may be more/less successful than a show that doesn’t have a live audience.  Things like that.

Last night, I attended a concert in Greensboro.  Yes, it was a concert where the music played was music that you probably don’t like.  But I love it.  The lineup was Sleeping With Sirens, Attila, Motionless In White, Sky Eats Airplane, and Drop Dead Gorgeous (appearing in that order).  After the show (and probably before the show), I was of the opinion that Motionless In White should have been the headlining band.  That may have had something to do with that I would have gone if they were the only band performing, but that’s beside the point

Sleeping With Sirens and Attila were both very solid bands and got the crowd going.  However, they paled in comparison to Motionless In White.  Motionless easily had the biggest fan base at the concert, even more than the more well-known Sky Eats Airplane and Drop Dead, Gorgeous.  The crowed just went nuts for Motionless.

They played only songs off their newest EP, When Love Met Destruction, because they recently obtained a new member and he didn’t know the old stuff yet.  They also split their setlist with a cover of Rob Zombie’s “Dragula.”  Each song was phenomenal, and it was a blast being right up in front of the stage.

The concert just reaffirmed that Motionless In White is the best band that I have ever known.  Their musical talent and range is incredible and each of their songs is unique and different.  They don’t sound like another band and they don’t care if you disagree or dislike what they do, they’re going to do what they love.

Here are some pictures from the show.

This is me with lead singer Chris after their concert.

Lead guitarist TJ.

I’m not going to be selfish, and give my two $500 bills to other people.  My favorite pitch was Michelle’s, so she gets my first $500.  I really think her idea of all the different ways to say the same thing, especially with the narrator, is very creative.

My second $500 goes to…Brent.  I don’t really know why, but his idea is creative and I’m really interested to see where he takes it.

Our latest photography assignment was surreal photography.  Surreal photography was to take an idea of a picture that is clearly unreal, yet make it look real through manipulation of the photo in photoshop. Without further ado, my photos.

First, I would like to thank my good friend and future suitemate Parker Tobin for this photo.  Now, I originally thought that this one was going to be easy to photoshop, yet it ended up being the one I spent the most time on.  The shadows and color of the walls was more difficult than I anticipated to get to match up, but after much tinkering with it I think it turned out really well.

Even though this isn’t the best photoshop job, I still find this photo to be hilarious.  My idea here is to be credited to Greek mythology, particularly of the creature hyrda.  The creature where, when one head is cut off, two grow back, and so on and so forth.

This one took a bit longer than I anticipated as, although I didn’t notice at the time, I think someone’s foot hit the tripod so the frames were a little bit off and I had to find a good way to line the pictures up.  But I think I did a very good job with this one and it looks really good.  I’m very proud of this one.

“Honey, I shrunk the kids!”  No further explanation needed.

This is, by far, my favorite surreal photo.  First off, I think that the photoshop job I did was great.  It looks really…real.  And, I love how it’s kind of subtle but not too subtle.  “What’s surreal about thi…OH NO WAY!”  That’s a general reaction that I’ve gotten for this photo, and I love it.

Our latest DMC class included a video chat with director Sean Dunne who specializes in short documentaries.  His website with his films can be found here.  My particular favorite of his films is “The Archive.”  I love the story, and I feel like I can relate very well to the man because I love my music and cherish it’s integrity as well.  Granted, I have a different style, but I feel just as strongly as he does.  On a more technical level, there was nothing I didn’t like about it.  The interview was well conducted, it flowed very fluently, and I really liked the B-roll and thought it went well with the talk.

Our latest DMC project was to create a time lapse video, one of a story or process over a long time that is sped up.

Without further ado, here is my video.

I’ve had a couple ideas for a time lapse.  My favorite and best one is a cooking one.  I was thinking of going to my grandparent’s house a couple minutes away and get a time lapse of my grandfather making dinner (and then eating considering he’s a great cook).

Another idea I had would be of a sporting event, such as a basketball game, or of a sporting event where I film the going-ons in the gym during the day of a basketball game.

A final idea was going to a park and getting one of a bunch of kids playing at the park one afternoon.

For our latest photography assignment, we were to choose a theme that we liked and to go take 10 good photos of our theme.  I decided to go with a theme of reflections, as I really like reflection photos.

Without further ado, my photos.

I really like this one a lot, and I was lucky to get it.  Upon reaching the cars parked by the railroad, a train started going by, which made the photos much better.

I also really like this one because there are multiple reflections upon a brick wall, and each reflection has something completely different.  I like this one because it makes the reflections seem like they don’t match up, as the reflections aren’t just of a different part of one scene.

This is my favorite picture.  I love the reflection in the sunglasses.  For some reason, I always have, and I’m not entirely sure.  In movies and photos, it shows you what exactly the person is looking at so you know what the focus of the picture is.

I like this one because it’s one of the few ones I have that shows the subject of the photo along with the reflection of the subject.  The reflection and subject of the photo also follow the rule of thirds, which I think makes the photo a strong one.

This is another of the multiple reflections idea, but at a different angle.  I like this one equally  because the reflections appear as if they don’t match up, and I really think the brick background is a great contrast for the windows.

I like this one because of the rule of thirds.  The two telephone poles dissect the reflection at great points.  I also really like the diagonal lines of the reflection, grass, and street.

This is another one that shows the actual subject as opposed to just the reflection.  I like how the photo is dissected across the middle by the land.  I also think the ripples add to photo because it doesn’t make the photo look too parallel, it shows that there are two separate parts to look at.

The last one of the windows upon the brick wall photos, from yet another different angle.  This one is my favorite of the three.  As usual, I like the brick background, but this one you can see the reflections the most clearly.  And it really shows the disconnectedness feel that I liked of the previous ones, where there isn’t any logical reason that the reflections go together.

There isn’t anything visually stunning about this one, but I like the lonely feel it gives us.  It was taken downtown, and downtown is supposed to be a lively, crowded place.  But nope.  The lone car, the lone person, and the half-closed blinds which make the location seem empty and abandoned, all really make it a lonely picture.

This one may be in contention with the sunglasses one for my favorite picture.  I have always been fascinated by by the double mirrored walls in barber shops when I USED to get haircuts (I don’t anymore).  It always amused me to see the reflections go on and on, and it always made the shop seem to go on forever.  Like there weren’t any walls, and it made the place seem so much bigger than it actually was.