Saturday, 18 December 2010

engaging with popular culture: what is it? part 3

The first post in this series began to consider a theology of popular culture by thinking about it is a natural product of people made in the image of God. Yesterday's post looked at how the fall has spoiled it.

But that's not the end of the story is it? God didn't just leave the world grasping after worthless idols but he chose to reveal himself. He chose to leave testimonies of his goodness all over the place. We call it common grace.

A revealing God

Romans 1:20 says:

“For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

Psalm 19 says,

“The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.”

What these verses mean is that all over the place there are going to be these pointers to God; things that are there for people to recognise something about God. People are created with a desire for knowledge of God. So, from time to time, or maybe even more often than that, we can expect to see some of these pointers to God in popular culture. They might not recognise them as such, but there are within popular culture things that should make people sit up and pay attention to God.

Pop culture is essentially people's attempt to interpret the world around them. God has made the world around us a place in which we should interpret him, and so he has made us to be interpretive beings. In pop culture people are making their interpretation of the world, they're saying “this is what I've observed about the way the world works, why don't you come have a look at my conclusions.” It is fundamentally people expressing their worldview.

So let's get back to what popular culture is: anything that reflects the values, priorities, source of meaning or any way that a person interprets the world is, in a way, popular culture. Or at least, for the sake of this series of blog posts, that's what I'm taking it to be. So in this we can include music, poetry, theatre, films, tv, the media generally, blogs, books and we could go on.

We'll think next about why we should engage with popular culture.

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