Tag Archives: popular culture

Young, restless, and immediate: The future of evangelicalism


Here’s a piece I did a little while back on Patheos.com on who evangelicals are and where they’re headed – getting to the nub of the matter.

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A little taste:

“What do this fundamental immediatism and this youth-driven quality mean for the future of evangelicalism? First, they very likely mean that whatever touches the hearts and minds of the generation rising right now – the adolescents of today – that will shape evangelical worship, ecclesiology, and doctrine for years to come.

“An optimist could point to the dynamism and renewal that emerged from past youth movements, or to the laudable and faithful concern of many young evangelicals today for justice, creation care, and other historical blind spots of the movement.

“A pessimist, however, would say that this is very bad news indeed. They could point to sociologist Christian Smith’s famous diagnosis of evangelical youth as mired in “moralistic therapeutic deism”: the theologically vapid belief in a kindly grandfather God who lavishes blessings and requires no accountability—this we might call immediatism gone, at last, to seed . . .”

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The theology of Jack Bauer and 24


Here, according to Huffington Post writer John Shore, is the theology (or more accurately, anthropology) of 24‘s Jack Bauer.

I’ll admit, I read this with only very partial knowledge of the series. Lo, these many years ago, during the show’s first season, I became addicted within a couple of episodes. Then I realized it keyed me up way too much and took me way too often to my “dark place,” and I quit watching.

But I think Shore may be on to something in this piece. What do you guys think?

The Twin Cities: One of the world’s very coolest places to live


Some days I get up and I’m just glad I live in the Twin Cities. Check out this tiny sampling of the sorts of arts & culture stuff available to us Twin-City-ites!

For a cool experience shopping ingredients for Hmong cuisine, check out the Hmong farmer’s market! http://m.mprnewsq.org/11138/show/0bd6455f7d7e66d9c688c895de37edfc&t=731263a91d06b6b9f477bd75c75958e6

This “punk grass” music group has the world’s best band name: http://m.mprnewsq.org/11138/show/f65e3d12e0fa64a2a17ab3f739c5a319&t=731263a91d06b6b9f477bd75c75958e6

Did you know Neil Gaiman lives near here? http://m.mprnewsq.org/11138/show/a5950f5f6dcd17dc4ffe4911f85a92dd&t=731263a91d06b6b9f477bd75c75958e6

Weird Al at the fair this summer! http://m.mprnewsq.org/11138/show/03f7c79ef615c544a6e775eac5736ccb&t=731263a91d06b6b9f477bd75c75958e6

This guy made something cool every day of the year, and now there’s an art show that lets us see all of it: http://m.mprnewsq.org/14206/show/8a1e0e9a2c817b965abdfc990dd8e4ae&t=731263a91d06b6b9f477bd75c75958e6

I really want to go to this street art show featuring miles of giant photos of people: http://m.mprnewsq.org/14206/show/18d79447fab21d3cf0bc3a1b872a5586&t=731263a91d06b6b9f477bd75c75958e6

Pastors reading comic books: A trend and what it means


In a lighter vein, check out this fascinating post on pastors and other Christian leaders reading comic books and other fantasy genres, and why they do it. More do than you may think, and most are ashamed to admit it. But that’s just the way the genre is seen by society-at-large. As the tweet from “Fake AP Stylebook” tells reporters: “When covering comic book conventions, be sure to walk past 400 normal people to interview the fat guy dressed like Aquaman.”

“Knock, knock.” “Who’s there?” “The Amish.”


As the editorial team for Christian History & Biography was preparing our issue on the Anabaptists in America (Amish, Mennonites, Brethren), a bizarre new reality show hit TV screens. The show, which threw a group of Amish teenagers into a west coast “party house,” had an interesting squirm factor:

“Knock, knock.” “Who’s there?” “The Amish.”
UPN’s “Amish In the City” shows us our modern selves in a mirror that is positively medieval.
Chris Armstrong

It began last night like a tasteless joke: “Knock, knock. Who’s there? Oh &*%^$%&! It’s the Amish! There goes the party.”

The first encounter between the six city kids and the six Amish kids thrown together in the new UPN reality show “Amish in the City” revealed much more about “us” than about “them”: Though there are winsome characters among the city kids, the first and lasting impression they leave is one of superficiality, fixation on sex and appearance, and deep-rooted self-centeredness. Next to these traits, even the ambivalent residue of communal spirit and Godly anchoring evident in the Amish young people has a tremendously appealing gravitas and sweetness. Continue reading

Christ and (pop) culture: The Lord of the Rings, The Passion of the Christ, and the Highway of Holiness


Pop culture isn’t always Babylon. Five years ago the conjunction of a number of blockbusters offered a unique opportunity for reflection in the Christian History weekly online newsletter:

The Lord of the Rings, The Passion of the Christ, and the Highway of Holiness
Has God been “re-routing” us through popular movies, books, and cultural events?
Chris Armstrong

I don’t remember a time when the realm of popular culture has seemed more alive with divine purpose.

During the past year or two, how often have we been publicly reminded—through movies, books, and events—of vital truths about who we are and who God is? Through Peter Jackson’s third Lord of the Rings movie, Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code, Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, and other prominent cultural events, we have been pushed off of the path of complacency and back towards the “highway” depicted by Isaiah: Continue reading

Doing Christian pop culture right (follow up to Nov. 2 “Tavern tunes” post)


I posted recently (Nov. 2) on “Tavern tunes in church music and ‘Why should the devil have all the good music?'” The piece, posted a while back on www.christianhistory.net, used a Canadian Anglican clergyman who calls himself “Elvis Priestly” as a jumping-off point for a consideration of “Christian pop culture.” This is a follow-up, thinking a bit more about how pop-culture presentations of gospel themes can help or hurt the cause of Christ. One of my favorite writers, Dorothy L. Sayers, shows up here with a few words of wisdom:

Caveat Gyrator (Elvis Priestly, Part II)
So you’ve got an evangelistic pop-culture act ready for prime time. Here’s a historical pause for reflection.
Chris Armstrong

Last week we looked behind the recent headlines about “Elvis Priestly,” a Canadian Anglican minister who has integrated a jump-suited impersonation routine into his sacred services. We surveyed a few of the many points at which Christians have co-opted popular artistic forms in order to get their evangelistic message across (Part I: From Oratorios to Elvis).

This week, we ask the questions: how have Christians historically reacted to such forays into popular forms? And how successful have the resulting products been in themselves—that is, as songs, plays, novels, and so forth, quite apart from their message? Of course, we can only touch the surface of these issues. But with Elvis now in the (church) building, this seems a worthwhile use of a few minutes. Continue reading