Tony Reinke’s Competing Spectacles provides a well-thought out argument for a more intentional, nuanced approach to our often all-consuming digital world. The following quotes provide a decent overview of the major areas covered by the book. I highly recommend you check out the whole book here.


15 Great Quotes

[A spectacle is] a moment of time, of varying length, in which collective gaze is fixed on some specific image, event, or moment. A spectacle is something that captures human attention, an instant when our eyes and brains focus and fixate on something projected at us. (p.14)

The mind is not merely a computer for data processing; it’s the faculty for seeing. (p.15)

Behind it all, spectacles want something from us…Visual images awaken the motives in our hearts. Images tug the strings of our actions. Images want our celebration, our awe, our affection, our time, and our outrage. (p.16-17)

In the age of the spectacle, image is our identity, and our identity is unavoidably molded by our media. (p.21)

The rise of both video spectacles and marketed consumables is no accidental marriage. Images capture our attention and lure us because they implicitly ask us to try on various costumes of identity, to envision how a product will craft our appearance in the eyes of others. And this manicured persona goes far deeper than cosmetics and clothing; it’s the drive behind much of our consumable goods. (p.34)

Smartphones make it possible for the attention economy to target our little attention gaps as we transition between tasks and duties. Our attention may be slightly elastic enough to fill up every empty gap of silence in our days, but in the end it’s still a zero-sum game. We have limited amounts of time to focus in a given day, and now every second of our attention can be targeted and commoditized. (p.56)

Again, human attention is a zero-sum game. At some point we must close all our screens and fall asleep—which makes sleep the enemy of digital spectacle makers (and sleep was named chief competitor by the CEO of the video-streaming giant Netflix). Entertainment giants win when they can keep us bingeing shows late into the night, which is why digital video giant Hulu teamed up with eye-drop maker Visine to create an ad about how the two work together to help us cram more video into our already eye-abusing addiction to screens all morning, day, and night. (p.57)

Our culture is no longer banded together by shared beliefs; it’s drawn together by shared spectacles. Like Halloween costumes designed to match the most popular movies, we seek our self-identity inside the cultural spectacles we share together. (p.64)

The axis of the cross marks the turning point for God’s plan for this universe. (p.81)

The World watches the slandered church as something of a vain curiosity, but in reality, the church is a spectacle of her own—a large cast collectively playing the starring role as bride of in the human drama for which all of creation was made as a theater to display. (p.102) 

Human spectacle making is like sorcery—an enchantment, a spell, the creation of an image that calls for a response from our inner longings. Idolatry is the original tele-vision, the bringing of a far-off deity close to the eyes. (p.118)

The human heart bends toward what the eye sees. Today’s image makers fling into the world digital spectacles of sex, wealth, power, and popularity. Those images get inside us, shape us, and form our lives in ways that compete with God’s design for our focus and worship. (p.118)

The greatest problem with video gaming is not that gaming is innately evil, but that it’s addictively good. Gaming taps our social competitiveness, our love of narrative, and our interest in problem solving. As gaming franchises grow, digital dreamscapes are becoming holistically immersive. The greatest problem with TV is not that TV is innately evil, but that TV is endlessly good at giving us exactly what we want whenever we want it. Our on-demand platforms continue to bulge with options. (p.118)

Satan blinds hearts by filling eyes with worthless things. His veil over human hearts today is a veil of pixels, and the chains of his spiritual bondage are tethered to the world’s theater.(p.133)

Like a smartphone screen made blank by the rays of direct sunshine, one day we shall see Christ’s face. On that day, all the vain spectacles in this world of illusions and all the pixelated idols of our age will finally and forever dissolve away in the radiance of his splendor. (p.154)

Interested in the book? Click here for a link to the book on Amazon.

Or, read the full review here.


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