Archive for the ‘ In the News ’ Category

Theology & Pop Culture 2: How?

The last post in this series explored why it is important to have communication between Christian theology and pop culture. This post will show seven broad ways this can be done. Most of the following is taken from Gordon Lynch’s Understanding Theology and Pop Culture. His book is great for, among other things, laying out some basic methods.

1) Study how religion and popular culture of everyday life interact. How does religion shape the way people live life? How does pop culture change the way people believe?

2) Study the ways pop culture serves religious functions. When people point out the religious nature of football games, they are doing this.

Similarly, you could see in pop culture a way of doing theology. Remember, theology is a way of communicating eternal truths to a particular situation. Christian theology, then, is a way of communicating eternal truths, particularly about God, to a particular situation. Robert Beckford has shown how Bob Marley works out theology in his music. The blues was originally a way of doing gospel music for themes that were not to be discussed in church. Worship music, which is absolutely a piece of pop culture, is a way of doing theology.

3) Understanding pop culture in order to respond to it missionally. This is exactly what many missionaries do all over the world, except in the United States, or Britain (or wherever).

4) The use of pop culture “texts” and practices as a medium for theological reflection. Every time your pastor works some cheesy reference to pop culture into a sermon, she is doing a very basic example of this.

“We’re like iPhones, and we don’t have any bars. But when we are in better communion with Jesus, we get more bars!”

This could also be done in a deeper way, such as I did with Lady Gaga’s “Judas” here.

4a) Relate pop culture to the Bible. For example, you could point out that Mumford & Son’s “Sigh No More” is similar to 1 Corinthians 13:4 (“love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, etc.”), and 2 Cor. 5:14, 17:
Love it will not betray you, dismay or enslave you,
It will set you free
Be more like the man you were made to be.
There is a design,
An alignment to cry,
Of my heart to see,
The beauty of love as it was made to be

2 Cor. 15:14, 17 (NIV)
For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died…Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

4b) Compare certain theological ideas to certain pieces of popular culture. Considering how closely Neo (The Matrix) fits Christology is an example of this. I did this with P. Diddy here, and with Christan Bale’s infamous rant here.

Seeing the variety of ways this can be done is helpful to clarify one’s thoughts and aims. It also is a testimony to how important these comparisons are, because they are so versatile.

4c) Search for theological truth in popular culture. This depends on a respect for pop culture, and a recognition that Christians do not already know everything there is to be known about theology. This fact alone limits the variety of Christians able to participate in this method.


Score One for Practical Acrophobia

I was reading today about how the world’s tallest tower is ninety percent unoccupied. Continue reading

Thursday Links: Evils and Responses

This week’s links have a lot to do with evil and our responses to those evils.
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…Yes, Among Other Things

A little over a week, ago, Damian Thompson blogged for UK newspaper Telagraph about the royal wedding. I didn’t blog about it immediately because, well, other things came up. But it hasn’t left my mind since, as I’m more than a little invested in its subject matter. Continue reading

On Christian Objectivity 5: bin Laden is dead!

The way Christians responded to bin Laden’s death has been on my mind. It’s been on the minds of lots of people, actually. This theme alone probably accounts for half of my Facebook feed for the last few days. Continue reading

Osama Bin Laden is Dead: Response and Reflection

Yesterday, President Obama announced that the United States conducted an operation that resulted in the death of Osama Bin Laden. The U.S. has been after Bin Laden since September 11th, 2001, and many people have rejoiced greatly that this long-standing mission has now been completed.
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Tunisia, Egypt, and 1,001 Arabian Nights: A Book Recommendation

There is a lot of change going on in the Middle East at the moment. Protests in Tunisia led to the resignation of that country’s leader, while continued protests in Egypt led to the recent resignation of Hosni Mubarak, that country’s former president of thirty years. One worry is that Islamic fundamentalist groups will manipulate elections to gain power so that they can impose Sharia law. Whether the Muslim Brotherhood‘s influence in Egypt is something to fear I will not debate here, but I will argue that increasing understanding is always important. Continue reading

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