Though God is not beyond using oddities like baked dung (Ez. 4:12) or dismembered hands (Dan. 5) to 'speak,' he puts a priority on divine words—both spoken and written. God spoke creation into being, spoke to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and spoke to Moses on Sinai, which he then etched into stone. His word was the bedrock of the covenant, and 'the Word' is even the name of his Son. When prophets like Jeremiah called Israel back to the covenant, Byers notes a tension between two forms of ancient media: God's words ("law," "my voice") versus the images of "the Baals" (Jer. 9:12-16). Though Byers is careful not to suggest we should "persecute the image," he's just as emphatic that central to loving God is a call to bathe in his words (Deut. 6:4-9).
The climax of all "TheoMedia" is the incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension of Christ. When Jesus preached and taught, his gospel declared the enduring value of divine speech (Matt. 5:18). His incarnation communicated the importance of embodied relationship and physical closeness. His crucifixion broadcasted the character of a self-giving God, and through his resurrection he opened the hearts of multitudes to understand not only the Scriptures, but all the world as God's media (Luke 24:17-31). God may not be on Twitter, but he's certainly not silent.
Imitating God's Media
TheoMedia is unique. It is a first-of-its-kind attempt at a comprehensive narrative theology of media. Many other books on new media draw wisdom from media ecology, social analysis, or modern history—and add in Bible verses or stories to supplement their conclusions. But Byers endeavors to take a look at the entire biblical story to uncover God's own media use and production—and in so doing crafts a wandering highway of divine media, peppered with periodic off ramps into the worlds of email messages, "ikes," tweets, animated movies, and Angry Birds.
Several off ramps on the biblical journey are application-rich blog posts ("TheoMedia Notes") scattered between the chapters. Some have a prophetic tone. Screens, for example, can function like portals that transport us to worlds of unreality, veils that hide our real identity, and stages where we seek digital applause through blog stats, flattering comments, retweets, or incoming links. Others give solid pastoral advice. Consider letting your children watch no more TV than they read Scripture. If you choose to amplify anybody's voice through social media, follow John the Baptist's lead and point to somebody else—and then fade into the background.