A Cultural Friday Five

Sally from RevGals writes:

I have spent the week at Summer School studying the Gospel and Western culture, we have looked at art, literature, music, film and popular culture in their myriad expressions. With that in mind I bring you the cultural Friday 5.

Name one of each of these which have helped/challenged you on your spiritual journey.

1. Book
A book? ONE book? Isn’t that like asking what kind of chocolate is your favorite (and the  answer is “yes”??) OK, OK, I’ll play…

Because of its impact on my worldview and the way that Americans are perceived, particularly in the Middle East, I would have to say “Beirut Diary” by Sis Levin.

2. Piece of music
Geesh. This is as hard or harder as “A Book” for a musician! Do I go back to learning to play Bach’s “Inventions”? The first dribbles of Christian music in the 70s? Disco? Country? The Who? Bono? Paul McCartney? Celtic harp? Mozart quintets? Ohio State University Marching Band? I am flummoxed. They are all a mishmash in my head and I really and truly can NOT pick one!

3. Work of art
Michaelangelo’s “Pieta” moves me every time.

4. Film
You may wonder about me, but probably “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” I think there are lot of people who view Christ-followers as kin to those who await “the Coming of the Great White Handkerchief.”

5. Unusual engagement with popular culture
I had to do a major mind shift when I began living and working outside Washington, DC – a place that is so self-absorbed and gives itself such self-importance… and has done a lot to increase my awareness of the errors (and pride) of BOTH sides of the political spectrum. It’s why we subscribe to the two local newspapers. (the TRUTH is somewhere in the middle…) …and why I have been encouraged by the writing I find at places like Third Way Cafe’ and The Ooze.

Bonus: Is engagement essential to your Christian faith, how and why?
How could it not be essential? If we wrap our minds in spiritual bubblewrap and never stop to consider WHO is speaking in our cultures, WHAT they consider important and WHY their worldview does not include God, we will be as ineffectual as “paste up” artist at a newspaper…

Does it make the changes in society “right” or “wrong”? Not necessarily. (Consider civil rights and [ahem] women pastors…) But if you do not understand where your contemporaries are, what they listen to and think about, how can you begin to speak to their spiritual needs? There are no “good old days” and it’s time we look at where we ARE and how GOD would work in us and through us. Thankfully, most believers are not as isolated and out-of-touch as people who would order “Armor of God PJs” for their kids…

Personally, I know that if I am not allowing God to work in me, to bring about formation in my being, then I am as bad or worse off as my contemporaries who have taken God out of the picture completely…



Oh… P.S. I don’t know why I can’t have one of the cool Soldier helmets instead of a “Maid Marion” get up. And where’s my sword?? A real one. With a nice sharp edge. I’m just sayin…

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