Does it pay for Christians to be reactionary to pop culture?
I don’t know exactly when it started, but in American culture, we have somehow decided that every blogger, writer and pundit we can find must react to pop culture in some form or fashion. My issue is not that Christians are engaging with the culture, but that we feel it our duty to become polemical about nearly every piece of pop culture that sets it’s gaze even remotely towards Christians.
Take for example, when Macklemore & Ryan Lewis performed a song while a bunch of straight and homosexual people got married on stage at the Grammies, thus making a political statement. I had no clue about it because I did not watch the Grammies. Instead, I mostly heard of this event the next day…on Christian blogs and news sites.
Same sort of thing happened a couple months ago when Phil Robertson, patriarch of the show “Duck Dynasty” made statements concerning homosexuality and race, sparking defenders and detractors across blogs and news networks everywhere. Every new story on both secular and Christian blog sites had to have the words “Duck” and “Dynasty” in them for almost a week.
To me, this seems problematic of how Christians engage culture at large. Every issue that grates or soothes Christian sensibilities in the Unites States has it’s ralliers, ready to fight the good fight for the “culture wars”. I’ve never felt the need to really reach out and have a virtual slapfight about Miley Cyrus or really any event meant to provoke and shock. I see these things as not even blips on the radar of time and space. Of course, my writing career at this time is rather young, so that may change in the future. However, if that does happen, some of you can send me angry emails linking to this blog post.
Your next question is probably then, “Why are you being polemical about other people being polemical?” Well, dear reader, I am trying to drive home a point. My point is thus; does culture really care whether or not the Christian blogosphere has something to say regarding awards show antics and loose-tongued rednecks? I would submit that the answer is “no”. The culture at large doesn’t need Christianity to be another voice in the fray making retorts. I’d submit that the culture rather needs a Christianity that continues to center itself on what Jesus has done for all of us and let any event speak for itself, because when we react towards such events in a polemical manner, we beg the question of why we don’t give a crap about the thousands of other events around the world which should matter to us in regards to every ethical standard we Christians hold. That includes how homosexuals are being treated in Uganda, how the Palestinians are being treated in Gaza or even something closer to home…like how our prisons are overcrowded or sexual slavery is occurring in this day and age right outside our doors.
It’s not that Christian bloggers and news agencies don’t address these issues, but they don’t address them ad nauseum. There’s no unified, vocal front on things that really matter. It’s easier to get a bunch of bloggers on a tear about Madonna than it is to get them on a tear about how more young men are killed every year in Chicago than in Afghanistan. Probably because it’s easier to get blog hits when you’re defending moralism, rather than providing long rants on complex sociological issues.
You may be thinking “But aren’t people wanting to know what Christians think about that one lewd thing that happened at the thing on national television?” My answer is…yeah. Probably. So what? What people are looking for isn’t for a “Christian” answer. They’re looking for someone to confirm their biases and tell them they’re right about a specific event, so they can share the article on Facebook and prove to people that somebody else has as much sense as they do. It turns Christian ethical thought (if there is even a singular thing these days) into a pissing match of sorts.
If we could somehow bring these disparate voices within the Christian media community together to hold the attention of people everywhere on one thing – say, sex slavery, for example – across the spectrum of liberal, conservative and moderate voices for an extended period of time, maybe we would then see something that hasn’t happened in awhile…Christians enacting cultural and political change unilaterally.
The people who know me best know that I’m not huge on ecumenicism, especially in the way of suppressing real doctrinal truth for the sake of tolerance. But on this, I feel ecumenicism is important. Our agendas in all the points of the political spectrum should coincide within the media at least towards specific ends, especially when those ends regard issues we can all agree are immoral and against the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Maybe I’m a dreamer and this is just going to be another angry rant by a guy who often checks “some college” on job applications, but I hope somebody can read this and get what I’m really trying to say.
In conclusion, I say we stop being reactionary towards the cultural consciousness on things that don’t matter and be proactive towards the things that do matter. We (Christians) all believe in a God who came down to earth and within the world He lived, He did not concern Himself with politics, feuds or even religious factions. He came to rescue the hearts of men from corruption. He came to heal and to set free. We live in this culture, but while we are in this world, we are not of it. We are representatives of the King and it’s our job to see everything in the terms of the Kingdom. Next time you feel the need to write a long diatribe about the inevitably offensive statement you’re always going to hear or read, think about the audience you’re speaking to and how it speaks for the Kingdom.
Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal. Have mercy on us.