Monday, October 31, 2005

"Christian Pop Culture": An Oxymoron?

I recently posted on the sad state of Christian Pop music, and I was thrilled to get a handful of like-minded responses as well as a string of great suggestions on good bands. One of the comments was from Kenny:

I think that the problem is just about "Christian pop culture" (a contradiction in terms) and how this culture demands that everything be watered down into the Prayer of Jabez and the Purpose Driven Life and can't deal with any real content. It doesn't encourage artists to show their struggles. It also allows artists to become popular without really being any good musically.

I think he is right on the dot with this insight. I think there are some productive ways of thinking about the phrase “Christian pop culture” as being an oxymoron. What kind of traits and virtues does pop culture provoke in general?

Pop culture, the kind we encounter in grocery lines, on TV, and in the movie theatre rewards things like: fame for fame’s sake, shallow thinking, sound-byte discussion, herd mentality, concupiscence, covetousness, lust, influence as an automatic result of fame, gluttony, relatively blind obedience, style over substance, historical myopia, age discrimination (no respect for elders), and so on.

None of which are compatible with a Christian worldview. So what are we doing to our Christian culture if we inject into it things like Christian celebrities and protean Christian niche markets? Well, one result many of us seem to agree upon is that it makes Christian music fairly one-dimensional and pathetic.

And what in the world does it mean to our culture to have Christian celebrities? Do they command the same kind of following that movie or TV clebs command? Doesn’t being a celebrity automatically demand you exude a certain amount of pride and/or arrogance? And if you were a humble person, wouldn’t your celebrity status demand a certain amount of pride?

Anyway, just a handful of thoughts.


Brett said...

Good post. One of the things that really opened my eyes to the "Christian Consumer Culture" was a talk given by Don Miller where he went all the way back to the Skopes Monkey trial. When the "church" lost this trial that allowed evolution to be taught in schools, Christians basically said, "OK, were taking our ball and going home."

Before this time, Christians were a part of culture as a whole, and therefore had an impact on it. Now, we have created this little "matrix" for ourselves that we never have to leave. We can go through life in our 'christian culture' and never have to interact with 'them'. Thats a big reason Christianity is misunderstood, maligned, and no longer influencing culture. The so-called "Christian Celebrity" is just another outgrowth of our pursuit to live in a man made "Christian matrix".

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TT said...

This is a great post. Lots to chew on. So if you don't mind I am going to respond to this at my own blog because "Christian Pop Culture" is an interest of mine.

Phil Steiger said...

Brett-I wholeheartedly agree that the church seemes to have circled the wagons and become its own self-contained culture in some ways. That makes it difficult for us now to figure out how to engage the world again without becoming the world.

Top-Thanks for the props! I hope your post helps spurr more conversation.