What images should I feed my eyes?
We often leave this question unanswered— because we don’t ask it. Maybe we don’t want to ask it. But viral videos, digital images, and other spectacles surround us in every direction—competing for our time, our attention, our lust, and our money. So we let our lazy eyes feed on whatever comes our way. As a result, we never stop to consider the consequences of our visual diet on our habits, desires, and longings.
Journalist Tony Reinke asked these hard questions himself—critiquing his own habits—and now invites us along to see what he discovered as he investigated the possibilities and the pitfalls of our image-centered world. In the end, he shares the beauty of a Greater Spectacle—capable of centering our souls, filling our hearts, and stabilizing our gaze in this age of the digital spectacle.
Table of Contents:
Part 1: The Age of the Spectacle
1: Life inside the Digital Environment
2: Spectacles Defined
3: Distracted Spectacle Seekers
4: Image Is Everything
5: The Spectacle of the Self in Social Media
6: The Spectacle of the Self in Gaming
7: Spectacles of Tele-Vision
8: Spectacles of Merchandise
9: Politics as Spectacle
10: Terror as Spectacle
11: Ancient Spectacles
12: Every Nine Seconds
13: The Spectacle of the Body
14: The Church in the Attention Market
Part 2: The Spectacle
15: Spectakils in Tension
16: Prynne’s Footnote
17: The World’s Greatest Spectacle
18: Is the Cross a Spectacle?
19: Two Competing Theaters
20: Spectators of Glory
21: The Church as Spectacle
22: The Church as Spectacle Maker?
23: A Day inside the Spectacle
24: Our Unique Spectacle Tensions
25: One Resolve, One Request
26: The Spectator before His Carving
27: A Movie So Good It Will Ruin You—Would You Watch It?
28: Resistible Spectacles
29: Summations and Applications
30: My Supreme Concern
31: A Beauty that Beautifies
32: The Visio Beatifica
33: Dis-Illusioned but Not Deprived
Tony Reinke is the communications director for desiringGod.org. He is the author of Lit!: A Christian Guide to ReadingBooks; Newton on the Christian Life; and 12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You.
“Thirty years after Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death, Tony Reinke’s Competing Spectacles takes the impact-analysis of modern media to new levels: a new height and new depth. New height, because Christ crucified, risen, and reigning is brought into the discussion as the Spectacle above all spectacles. New depth, because the focus is not on what is happening to politics, but what is happening to the human soul. The conception of this book is not cavalier; it is rooted in the profound biblical strategy of sanctification by seeing (2 Cor. 3:18). The spectacle of Christ’s glory is ‘the central power plant of Christian sanctification.’ Ugly spectacles make us ugly. Beautiful spectacles make us beautiful. Reinke is a good guide in how to deflect the damaging effects of digital images ‘in anticipation of a greater Sight.’”
- John Piper, Founder and Teacher, desiringGod.org; Chancellor, Bethlehem College & Seminary; author, Desiring God
“Tony Reinke has proven to be a wise guide for Christians through this era of technological whirl. Now with this accessible, sagacious book, he has done so again. This book shows us how to pull our eyes away from the latest viral video or our digital avatars of self and toward the ‘spectacle’ before which we often cringe and wince: the crucifixion of our Lord. That’s the spectacle we need.”
- Russell D. Moore, President, The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention
“Tony Reinke has the prophetic knack of helping us see the truth about ourselves and our world. In these pages—as illuminating as they are disturbing and challenging—he stands in the tradition of the spiritual masters who have understood that the city of man’s—and woman’s—soul is often attacked and destroyed through eye-gate. But Competing Spectacles not only diagnoses our distorted vision; it prescribes spectacles that give us twenty-twenty spiritual vision. Essential reading.”
- Sinclair B. Ferguson, Chancellor’s Professor of Systematic Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary; Teaching Fellow, Ligonier Ministries