An interview with Mark Sayers

I am currently reading Mark Sayers’ new book, The Vertical Self, and thought I would highlight an interview with him published in this months’ Sign of the Times Magazine.  I find his take on contemporary culture really interesting and enlightening, and always enjoy reading what he has to say – either in his books, on his blog, or in interviews like this one.

In case you are wondering, “Who on earth is Mark Sayers?”, here is an exert from the ‘Bio’ on his website:
“Mark Sayers is an author and speaker who specializes in interpreting popular culture from a Christian viewpoint.  Mark is the founder of Über a ministry that specializes in issues of youth and young adult discipleship. He is also the leader of the Red East church in Melbourne, Australia, an innovative Christian community specifically reaching the young adult demographic. He is a highly sought after speaker, trainer, consultant and thinker in the areas of popular culture and faith”.
His other book, The Trouble with Paris, is also well worth the read – mainly because he provides some real insight into the effects of consumer culture on Christian practice.

The interview outlines to some degree his understanding of ‘hyper-reality’ and ‘hyper-consumerism’:
“Hyper-reality”” is Mark Sayers’ shorthand description of the society in which he lives and works. “It’s a complex, sociological term,” Sayers explains, “but, put simply, it’s the way that our mediadrenched culture creates false realities—or realities that seem even better than the real thing.
“It’s the ‘Photoshopped’ model who doesn’t actually look like that and never could look like that outside that sort of photo shoot. It’s the brochure that shows you the perfect tropical island that probably is infested with mosquitoes and where it rains three quarters of the year. So I’ve used the term to describe how our culture presents this version of life which is always better than the real thing”.”

While not arguing against consumerism as such, Sayers identifies a kind of hyper-consumerism that so invades our lives today. “”There’s a point where consumerism switches from selling things for their benefit or function to promising all these extra things”,” he says. “”It’s a combination of media and technology— it’s being overwhelmed by our entertainment culture that’s absolutely everywhere. Everyday we’re exposed to as many as 5000 marketing messages, which is completely enveloping. It’s a rainstorm— and we’re running around trying not to get wet”.

“”Plus in our secular culture where religion’s been taken out of the public arena, there’s a vacuum and advertising, marketing and media have jumped into that vacuum”.”

It’s all interesting stuff – well worth reading and thinking about.

Just in case I’ve sparked some interest, also check out his blog here.

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