Theology and Pop Culture “A”

Okay, okay. This isn’t actually my series. In fact, Stephen Hale started the series on Wednesday with a post entitled Theology and Pop Culture 1: Why?. I think he will do a great job of the series, but I wanted to throw in my own two cents. I labeled this one “A” not because I necessarily intend to continue in my own series, but because I wanted to distinguish my own apocryphal posts from his canonical series.

While Stephen and I have some disagreements on occasion (watch the comments when one of us posts, and you are as likely to find a comment from the other as from anyone else), I think he hit the nail on the head with the post linked above. I’m excited to see what he does with it, but I wanted to add a few of my own reflections here.

There was one thing about Stephen’s post that made me want to write a post of my own, and it is not because I disagreed with him but rather because I wanted to reiterate how true his statement is. In his second to last paragraph, he argues that we should engage in Pop Culture because it is what people are thinking about, regardless of how ‘dumb’ or ‘intelligent.’ In fact, this is a great way to relate to people.

We have all met the person who is completely out of touch with all forms of Pop Culture. They do not listen to music, do not watch television and have only seen a handful of movies. The people I have met who are like this (to the extreme, at least) are very difficult to have conversations with. This is not because I cannot talk about things other than entertainment (my participation on this blog should prove that point), but rather because those things are so much a part of our culture that interacting with someone who is oblivious to everything about them simple feels disconnected.

We should probably try to find some balance. I have no cultural requirement to know the details about every pop-singer’s release history, nor their personal biographies. I cannot tell you much about Lady Gaga, but I could probably tell you a good chunk of Eminem’s life story. The latter was not necessary, but since I happened to find the story interesting I did some research. While I do not need to know all of the details of every current piece of entertainment, having a knowledge of the current players seems important.

This is sort of like following football. To say you are a part of the football fanbase, you should probably at least recognize the teams. You may not know the stats or names of all the players, but you should know the teams, who you like and who you don’t, and maybe know the specific players within your chosen team. Similarly, while I do not particularly find myself gravitating towards ‘pop’ music, I could tell you a lot about various hip-hop and rap artists. That’s my chosen team, and I find myself seeking to learn more about them.

Around October of last year, I began writing music reviews for The Christian Manifesto. I had always enjoyed music, had loved blogging for the ten months previous to that, and wanted to find a way to bring the two together. I’ve found that after engaging in culture (both in and out of genres I enjoy) in a critical way, I am much more capable of interacting with various people. Being a music critic somehow translated into being a better conversationalist. This is in part from honing writing and thinking skills, but I think it is largely because music is such a large part of our culture that simply reflecting on it more provides greater communication skills.

So I guess the point here is that we should not be oblivious to the culture we live in. Everybody may have a different level of depth they engage in, but to be completely disengaged seems unwise, at least to this writer.

    • Stephen Hale
    • June 4th, 2011

    I agree, James. I probably couldn’t say it any better myself. 🙂


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