Popular culture is everywhere around. You may love or hate it, but escape it is difficult, It’s a major carrier of (western) values and world view. And that’s where it meets Christianity. What is our response to popular culture, whether it’s a movie, social network, music, sculpture, painting or tv series. How relevant is popular culture to a Christian believer, and what’s our relevance in shaping culture? How should we engage in a non-Christian culture? Ted Turnau tries to formulate answers in Popologetics: popular culture in Christian perspectives. Apologetics crossed popular culture.
First the author does some grounding: what are popular culture and world view? And what does theology says about popular culture? Creation, fall and redemption revisited. In the second part he gathers 5 possible, but not so helpful approaches to popular culture:
- What, me worry? Issues concerning popular culture aren’t even a blip on your radar screen. Problem? What problem?
- Ew-yuck! Popular culture is a breeding ground for spiritual pollution. Stay away from the dirt!
- We’re all above that. Dismiss and criticize popular culture as trivial and inferior compared to “real culture.”
- Imagophobia. You don’t reject popular culture because it is popular per se, but because you fear that an image-based culture will undermine our collective social and intellectual health.
- Cheerleaders of the postmodern. It’s all good. God and the Spirit move in mysterious ways. Let’s listen to them speaking to us through popular culture, and forget about the #1 position of the Bible as only source of truth.
In part 3 Turnau puts his own cards on the table and presents a more balanced approach to popular culture. He has a method of how to watch (or play or listen to or read) popular culture, and how to respond apologetically. Calling that approach popologetics it gives a way to explore how we ought to relate our faith to popular culture as cultural consumers, and how to respond thoughtfully to the worldview challenges presented in popular culture.
- What’s the story?
- Where in the world am I?
- What’s good, true and beautiful in this world?
- What’s false, ugly and perverse in this world (and how can I subvert it)?
- How does the Gospel apply here?
Turnau practices concrete examples of popologetics by examining the rock song Heartache Tonight by The Eagles, the documentary Grizzly Man (2005) by Werner Herzog, the Japanese anime series One Piece, the blockbuster family movie Kung Fu Panda. And finally, a nonnarrative example, the online social network Twitter. Learn how to approach popular culture wisely, separating its gems of grace from its temptations toward idolatry, and practice some popologetics to be an influence of your own.