A Review of Tony Reinke’s

Competing Spectacles:

Treasuring Christ

in the Media Age

Many spectacles compete for our attention and affection, and our devotion to them is distracting us from focusing on our families, friends, community, and Christ. Whether it’s video games, social media, or the latest streaming service, the bombardment of entertainment is having more of an impact than we realize. For me, even a quick Wikipedia search on Lorentz transformations can turn into a journey that finds me reading about the historical origins of eggs Benedict. thirty-second videos permeate social media. Emails bombard us throughout the day (if I get asked to complete one more survey…). We have gone from 57 channels and nothing on to 557 channels and still nothing worth our attention.

Reinke defines a spectacle as, “A moment of time, of varying length, in which collective gaze is fixed on some speciic image, event, or moment.” For those who have read Carl Trueman’s The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self and Neil Postman’s classic Amusing Ourselves to Death, Reinke’s work will have familiar premises. At the very least, Reinke’s insight forces us to reflect on how our technological vices distract us from focusing on the eternal. His intent was to write a book that would encourage us to “digitally detox,” and shift our focus from technological spectacles to the “beauty of a Greater Spectacle.”

If you’re looking for a quick five-step recipe on how to be less distracted by media, this is not that book. However, as Samuel Johnson once stated, “Men more frequently need to be reminded than informed.” Our appetite to be entertained seems to be growing stronger. Although I’m sure many of us know that there are many spectacles vying for our attention, I’m not sure we always realize how much they can distract us from focusing on the Divine.

And Reinke does not just reveal the issue at hand—he provides pragmatic ways Christians should respond. Relaying with humility his own struggles, and weaving generous amounts of Scripture throughout, his writing is relatable while providing relevant support for his assertions.

If anything, it’s a call for us to shift our focus back to, as Reinke states, “the grandest Spectacle ever devised in the mind of God and brought about in world history—the cross of Christ.” Do not be surprised if you have the urge to dispose of your smartphone after reading this book. ✤

KEN HOSIER Science Department Chair, The Ambrose School, Meridian, ID