Friday, December 29, 2006

Outside Popular Evangelical Culture

I have found evangelical popular culture to be generally uninteresting for most of my 30+ years under that designation. If we take the simplest view, that this subculture is descended from both the Camp Meeting and the Renewal/Jesus Freak strains of Christianity, then I suppose I was there for the early parts of that mixing in the 70's. At that time I was up on what books were coming out, what songs and musicians were popular, what conferences were springing up, and what was hot for Raising the Evangelical Child (That would be Carey Landry, Psalty, Arch Books, and Dobson, BTW). We liked some parts better than others, and would pick and choose, of course, but we were up on these things. As my children all spent at least some years in Christian schools, and we have been Covenanters most of those years (a bridge church between evangelical and mainstream), and our friends have been at decidedly evangelical and fundamentalist churches, I remain familiar with a lot of what is going on in that group. My wife and children are far more familiar with these things.

I have gradually become estranged from the cultural aspects. My theology is still evangelical in essence, though we have always had a more liturgical bent than is common. But not only do I no longer know what the new books and the new performers are, I find that when I am exposed to them I pretty much don't like them. I am increasingly concerned that style is pushing out substance. It is easy to think that when the style does not please, of course; but it is also easy to not notice that when the style does please.

The style of the mainstream denominations neither pleases nor displeases me. As their gradual abandonment of some essentials of the faith in favor of more trendy ideas does displease me, I feel no pull in that direction.

One would think that my alienation would be sharp, but I don't experience it that way. As with other things, I am more puzzled than annoyed.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Of course there's a difference between evangelical popular culture and
popular culture. At times the two converge eg. Amy Grant was known in the
evangelical popular culture before she was known in the mainstream popular culture.

Reverend John Stott ("Basic Christianity") has said: "The great tragedy in the church today is that evangelicals are biblical but not contemporary, while liberals are contemporary but not biblical. We need faithfulness to the ancient word and sensitivity to the modern world."

Here's a few examples of how to be faithful to the ancient word, yet sensitive to the modern world:

LOST quiz: Can the lost be found?
by David Buckna
http://www.blog.ashleylangford.com/archives/2006/08/lost_quiz.html

Buffy a morality play
by David Buckna
http://www.whedon.info/article.php3?id_article=1057

Words from the book of Buffy
by David Buckna
http://www.whedon.info/article.php3?id_article=1058

Superman As Super Savior
by David Buckna
http://www.assistnews.net/Stories/s06070029.htm

U2 Quiz: 30 Questions For Those Who Have Ears To Hear
by David Buckna

http://www.assistnews.net/stories/s05120086.htm

civil truth said...

I find it quite interesting that a number of evangelicals have converted to Eastern Orthodoxy in search of a more liturgical and more historically rooted Christian spirituality. I understand that pull (though Orthodoxy isn't what's pulling me) and I sense it's along the lines of what's behind your disenchantment with American evangelical popular culture - the rather shallow foundation for spiritual discipline too often manifesting itself in a sellout to the entertainment/consumerist demands of the wider culture (or as I once read, "kow-towing to ice cream").

A joyful New Year to you, AVI!

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I have significant assent to eastern Orthodox thought (and Catholic and Melkite), but that liturgical I can't manage. Not to mention the incense. I no longer have the standard Protestant objection to the artwork and costume.

But my two Romanian sons have both a deep suspicion of the Orthodox as communist collaborators, and find the services deadly. I think my making that jump would estrange them somewhat. Or they might hurt me.

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