The book is also resplendent with un-doctoral-student-like prose. The "TheoMedia Event" of the Exodus, for example, is described in detail: "The life giving river became deathly blood, the sky vomited stones of ice, homes were swollen with rotting frog-flesh, darkness was permitted to go unchecked by the sun." Lucid biblical storytelling, interspersed with personal stories as a father and chaplain, makes for engaging reading. It also makes the reader forgive him for overusing the word "media" and occasionally losing track of modern media applications along the winding biblical narrative.
But the lasting effect of TheoMedia is embedded in his main thesis: Because God uses and creates media (broadly defined), there is a discoverable logic to guide Christians in using and creating their own media. This changes the conversation from the proverbial "Yea" or "Nay" to blogging, Pinterest, or cable news, and instead asks how we can imitate God's media use and take the next step to creating divinely-inspired media. This casts a broader net to include not only pastors and bloggers, but also those who work in media: advertisers, marketers, PR representatives, literary agents, graphic designers, web developers, journalists, radio hosts, and film-makers. Byers lays down tracks for faithful engagement, not just critique.
Take, for example, the applications he draws from Christ's incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection. When God became man, he placed emphasis on relational nearness and physical presence. "If God himself puts such stock in face-to-face physicality," writes Byers, "then surely this emphasis is to be reflected in Christian communication habits." So, if social media is used to replace physical interaction, it isn't incarnational. But if social media is used to arrange more physical communities—gatherings of classmates, co-workers, friends—it begins to point to Immanuel, God with us. Even when St. Paul chose to write a letter (ancient social media) to the church at Corinth over visiting them in person, he did so to heal relational tensions, thus drawing himself closer to them (1 Cor. 1:23; 2 Cor. 2:1). Digital communication, then, should "always be moving in a relational direction from distance to nearness." We should use digital media to arrange more lunches or get in touch with long-lost friends, not to send emails to co-workers three cubicles down the hall.
Christ's crucifixion exposes both our digital vanity and inspires selfless online interactions. On the prophetic side, Byers suggests that a "cruciform" media ethic would minimally mean
no more embittered remarks in the comment streams; no more self-centered blog posts promoting our online significance; no more vain status updates; no more tricky strategems for beefing up our pool of followers simply for the sake of augmenting our self importance.