Christianity Today’s web site ran an article a week ago which was preview of a new book by Steve Turner on pop culture.
Turner is a gifted writer and thinker. i greatly enjoyed and highly recommend his book Imagine: A Vision For Christians and the Arts.
What Turner has to say is, based on this excerpt of Popcultured, crucial. For one thing, pop culture is constantly shaping us in seen and unseen ways. But even more, our vigilance regarding pop culture is vitally important because pop culture is becoming increasingly pornified. The influence of the pornography industry on all forms of our entertainment is means that if we are going to think rightly as Christians, we cannot be careless in our consumption of pop culture, Turner says.
Specifically, Turner says:
We have to respect its capability to shape our opinions and decorate our minds, and need to work at being transformed in order not to be overwhelmed. … We can’t expect the culture that is trying to fashion us to reveal the secrets of how it is fashioning us. The world will tell us nothing untoward is happening to us. We are being overanxious. We are being too intense. We are victims of Christian paranoia. …
[But] dealing with popular culture demands more effort of a Christian because his or her nonbelieving counterpart feels no obligation to remain alert and vigilant. The unbeliever is not concerned about giving an account of his or her thoughts and words to God…
It appears from Christianity Today’s excerpt of the book that it will be well worth the read. Turner points out that
Christians sometimes expose themselves to dangerous stuff just to show how resilient they are. It’s the spiritual equivalent of tightening your six-pack and challenging someone to deliver a swift punch: “See! It didn’t hurt.” But we can’t always tell at the time how things will affect us in the long term. Images we saw decades ago can rise to the surface of our consciousness without us being aware of where they came from.
The biblical proverb asks,
Can a man scoop fire into his lap
without his clothes being burned?
Can a man walk on hot coals
without his feet being scorched? (Prov. 6:27–28)
Popular culture influences us in ways that are both large and small. It influences us in ways that — at times — are easy to detect and then other ways which are very hidden.
But as Turner mentions, we can’t expect the culture that is trying to fashion us to reveal the secrets of how it is fashioning us. The world will tell us nothing untoward is happening to us.