What is a sound bite? According to dictionary.com, it is “a brief, striking remark or statement excerpted from an audiotape or videotape for insertion in a broadcast news story.” Over the last few decades, much of our news, interviews and opinions have been reduced to “sound bites” averaging less than ten seconds. Study, research and usage of impressive or “ear-catching” terms reduce much of our political, cultural and religious conversation to exchanges of sound bites. We have seen much of this in our current presidential campaigns in both political parties. Sound bites allow superficial thinking to prevail, often on both sides of an issue, with no possibility of resolution in a fair and balanced manner.
For example, last year a successful campaign was waged under the sound bite of “STAY UNITED.” This fear-mongering campaign resulted in suppressing any honest discussion of what would be involved in even considering an “amicable separation” between well-intentioned orthodox and progressive factions within the United Methodist Church (see our article from our last newsletter, “Are Conservatives Trying to Split the Church?”). Similar sound bites can be found when traditionalists call progressives “UNCHRISTIAN” or “UNBIBLICAL.” On the other hand, liberals have branded their calls for disobeying the Book of Discipline’s forbidding of same-sex marriage celebrations as a “BIBLICAL OBEDIENCE” campaign, and occasionally refer to conservatives who cannot square same-sex practices with Scriptural authority as simply “HATERS.”