Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Fascination with mass media was birthed in my teenage years, from two sources - one dysfunctional (my loneliness, and consequent desire to be heard/read by a lot of people out there so that I could attain some sense of significance); the other more commendable (my calling to communicate the Good News with as many as possible). 

Professionally, all this led me to studying the social psychology of Mass Media and Communication within a Masters' degree at the University of Sydney (I'll summarize all that sometime) and to accepting a job broadcasting Christian stuff on radio, with the Christian Broadcasting Association. This position was full-time in 1971 (weekly salary $80, $68 after tax!); part-time (writing weekly Christian news bulletins) in 1972 (while pursuing a part-time ministry at Central Baptist Church, and completing that Masters' degree). The most successful program I was involved in was the 45-minute 'Jesus the Revolutionary' (with Mal Garvin and John Hirt). 90 commercial radio stations used up a lot of their mandatory one-hour-per-week-for-religion with this - at it was at the height of the Jesus Revolution era. 

Something else I did in those years was talk often on talk-back radio (mostly with Ormsby Wilkins). Here's a summary of one interesting conversation.

It's been an interesting ride since then doing occasional interviews on national radio and TV. For some of these see here (about homosexuality), here (exclusive brethren), here (homosexuality again), here (on the Bible) etc. etc. If you're desperate to read/view some more Google will probably help. The latest (October 2010) - here .

Then there's the Internet: a wonderful medium for communicating with a lot of people. The first corner - some of the 100,000 Usenet newsgroups. A few of us got the only Australian Christian newsgroup going back in the 1990s. Here's the FAQ for that group. (Earlier versions here.) Because Usenet groups comprise anybody at all (most of the groups are unmoderated), sometimes you can have some dramas on them (chase the history of this newsgroup - alt.christnet.christianlife - for a prize example).  Liberty University invited me to give a lecture on Usenet Evangelism. 

The JMM website has gathered momentum over the years - and gets up to 10,000 unique visitors a day (it's up there with three others in Australia: the official Catholic and Islamic and Salvation Army websites - though the SA incorporates all the local ones). The Google ads bring in a little income each month to our ministry.

Another way we have profited from the Internet is selling F W Boreham books on eBay. Boreham was/is Australia's and NZ's only significant religious collectible author. I eventually sold my personal collection (for $22,000!) when our ministry needed a car. If you see Borehams, buy them (if they're $10 or less for common titles) - you might find a bargain! I'm also beginning another collection if anyone out there has no need of theirs!

Browsing and evangelizing on the 'Net can have all sorts of unintended consequences. Like:

* Being called an idiot by young people for having certain views on this and that! (I don't meet those people in real life!)

* Getting strongly-worded legal 'cease and desist' emails from an American mob who reckon they had a proprietory ownership of the name 'Trading Post'. We'd been operating the F W Boreham Trading Post for years until then

* About every couple of months when I'm having a lazy day off I - like most honest people when they're prepared to admit it, and careful people when they're wise - do some 'ego-googling'. I found there was a sick man in another country who took on my name. I get nice emails from notables who find themselves mentioned or their book reviewed on the JMM site. And occasionally cranky emails from some author or other who wants more significant mention of their website or whatever. (I don't believe in copyright for my personal stuff: s'long as it's 'copied right')

* Occasionally I get an email from someone from my past: we probably never would have met apart from this marvelous medium. This of course includes stories about 'Rowland you were preaching in such-and-such a place, about ____, and it changed my life!' Marvelous! These emails include grateful - and occasionally critical - stories from former parishioners. See the chapter here on Blackburn Baptist Church for some examples...

No comments: