Friday, February 6, 2009

Christ n' Culture

So, Dawn quite fairly asks me the question that has defined much of the last few months for me. Why do I study films at Princeton Theological Seminary? Why am I reading Fantasy Literature for class? Whence the obsession with popular culture?

First: You are what you eat. Nobody seems particularly inclined to dispute the truth of this statement. The foods you input into your body will affect your body's overall health.

It seems logical to state, then, that you are also what you see. Films go into your mind - they're a visually powerful medium. How often have you seen a shot or an image in a movie that, later, you couldn't quite get out of your head?

Same holds true for books. You are what you read. This I can say even more definitely. In this one respect, I regret playing Dungeons and Dragons in my youth - I can never quite elude the paradigm of Lawful and Chaotic, Good and Evil in my own head. The books that I read as a child, and the books I read now, shape the way I see and interact with the rest of the world.

Therefore, it seems to me that I can be a better and more critical reader and moviegoer. I can consciously choose to accept or reject the worldviews of everything that I read, from a covertly Marxist opinion piece on the BBC today, to Fight Club, a favorite film of mine, to the Twilight series, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and about which I may have more to say later.

The best way I know of, though, to become just such a careful thinker, is to practice. I think a generation of pastors trained to think carefully about popular culture and how best to interact with it can only be of eventual benefit to the Church.

Second...well, I think second will wait a day.

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