When I can’t engage the culture

I watched neither the Grammys nor the State of the Union. I didn’t watch the State of the Union because blah, blah, blah nothing new.

I didn’t watch the Grammys for a couple of reasons. First, I don’t really care about celebrity or pop culture and can’t imagine devoting several hours of my time to watching something that glorifies both. It’s just not my thing.  (Yeah, yeah, yeah, politics is downstream of culture, and we have to engage the culture where it’s at. I get that, but I’m a dork who’d rather stick with sci-fi and books. Please don’t let that fact stop you from reading the rest.)

But even if I was interested in celebrity, I couldn’t have watched that particular performance, nor most award shows from the past few years.  Last year, the Oscars had a delightful number called “We Saw Your Boobs.” This year (according to news reports because, again, I didn’t watch) Beyonce did an exotic dance and demonstrated her, um, intimate moments with her husband, Katy Perry did something weird and possibly Satanic, and a whole bunch of people did a freaky gay/straight/whatever group marriage while a 9/11 Truther lectured Christians on the Bible. (The Moonies laugh at your “mass” wedding.) Shocking, vulgar, and risque seem to be the major themes of these events.

I have kids, none of whom need to see any of that. I don’t need to see that.  That’s not entertaining to me; it’s sad.

And this is my problem with “engaging the culture.” I was on Twitter a bit Monday night and saw a lot of Christians tweeting about the Grammys. I didn’t pay a great deal of attention to it, but some. I knew about the mass wedding because it had been in the news. But I only heard about the other performances the day after when I read about Christian artist Natalie Grant walking out at some point.

And this cialis no prescription sends them deeper and deeper into denial. However, it levitra samples was soon found to minimize the look of the season and what the designers are looking for leads or mailing lists. You are only required online cialis pills to consume the medicine on empty stomach.5) The major precaution is to prevent multiple consumptions. Therefore using this medicine is 100% http://amerikabulteni.com/2015/03/16/obama-hristiyanligini-sorgulayan-valiye-sakayla-takildi-selamun-aleykum-vali-scott/ cialis no prescription secured. That shocked me because what little conversation I saw on Twitter didn’t seem the least bit outraged, certainly not to the point of turning it off. So Christians watching the Grammys, did that not bother you? The raunchy dance, the freaky ritual set to music, the mass marriage, anything? Does “engaging the culture” mean always approving, mimicking, and going along to get along? Does “engaging the culture” mean that we must accept whatever is offered as entertainment? Is there a point where we say, “I can’t engage with this bit of culture because it is beyond the pale?”

I know  people will disagree with me, people I like and/or respect. But I’m not accountable to those people. I’m accountable to the God who said, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil,” and, “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

“But the purpose of art is to challenge! That’s all it was!” Okay, fine.  Then answer the challenge. Answer it with creativity and excellence and, above all, love, but let’s answer it. We can’t be swallowed by the culture we claim to engage.

I don’t think Christians should abandon the culture, building high walls and creating bubbles to keep the world out. But I don’t think we should embrace things that are clearly sin. If that’s how we’re engaging the culture, we need to change course.

My previous musings on engaging the culture, a five-part series.

11 responses to “When I can’t engage the culture”

  1. marcia Avatar

    April, I am addressing this very thing at my small group this Thursday. We are currently working through James Bryan Smith’s book “Hidden in Christ,” which is an in-depth study/devotional on Col. 3:1-17. I think Christians may suggest they are “engaging the culture” when in reality, they are actually justifying the loss of their first love instead of repenting. It is sobering and a very real threat; these kinds of things serve to push us in one direction or the other. I am practicing repentance (which, in my case, takes a LOT of practice). It is just as Jesus admonished in His letters to the churches. Thank you for fanning the flames. Consuming fire, fall on us.

    1. April Avatar

      I think we have to be far more careful about how we consume culture. It’s too easy a cop out to say that what we watch/listen to/read is how we “engage the culture.” It’s also too easy a cop out to shut ourselves off from the culture altogether. It’s a hard road to walk.

      1. marcia Avatar

        Perhaps the truth is that we don’t engage the culture…we engage people. Engaging the culture is nonsense. You can’t have a REAL relationship with culture, can you?

        1. April Avatar

          Yeah, that’s kind of what I say here: http://www.oddlysaid.com/?p=2013#sthash.N0u6Jbnc.dpbs

          But culture is a medium, perhaps THE medium to reach people.

  2. Lynn Avatar

    I absolutely take your point and when the kids were young, went out of my way to avoid the shows. Actually tried to explain to them I considered a lot of it “mind pollution.” Will admit now though, I sometimes watch if not much else is on. I think it’s mostly to see what everyone’s all a-Twitter about, but on some level, I know you are right and should probably just stop adding to the ratings.

    1. April Avatar

      It’s a balance. Like I said, we need to be careful that we don’t completely cut ourselves off from people we are suppose to be reaching. But we are far too undiscerning. (And by we, I do mean me, too.)

  3. Wayne Avatar

    As far as I am concerned, there’s not a whole lot of “culture” left to engage.

    1. April Avatar

      We shall get off your lawn, Wayne. 😉

  4. Jose Avatar

    I didn’t watch (even though I and my daughter love Taylor Swift) because 1) I didn’t want to have to turn it off when things got vile and 2) We have a TV but have terrible reception since we don’t have cable! It’s a bit of a win win.

    The greater picture is that yes, their “culture” is attacking our faith, our values, our beliefs, and it is ok because they hold the pop culture bully pulpit at this moment in history. We have to remember though that they are loud, visual and temporary.
    The works of CS Lewis, Tolkien and Chesterton live on whereas, where are the flash in the pan Grammy winners of the past? Music and art are important, but in context, their victories over our national attention are but a blink when measured against the context of history.

    1. April Avatar

      I’m not entirely agreement with you here. Yes, truth and excellence will last–the classics are classics for a reason. But the prevalent culture is shaping the thoughts and beliefs of people, often to their detriment. Christians have a duty to speak truth and reach out into and through cultural storytelling. We shouldn’t hide our light under a bushel, so to speak, nor ignore or isolate ourselves from people because their culture is sinful. Engaging the culture is, I think, the hard work of being in the world but not of it. I could be wrong.

  5. […] I know only a couple of weeks ago I wrote some hard things about when we shouldn’t engage the …. As Christians, we have to be careful not to be mindless consumers of whatever is served in the […]

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