Can you have a culture without the cult?

Here are two items that caught my attention.

This link uses the Sherwood Baptist movie franchise as a jumping off point. If you’ve seen Fireproof, Flywheel or Facing the Giants you have the idea. Lots of pointy headed types (like me) might find the story-lines trite, but what I would say is that they’ve gotten a lot better a lot faster than I thought they would. And they’ve done it without giving up their moral core. Where Flywheel was almost enough to make me wince, the second two were at least as good as any of the secular professional stuff shown on THE Family Channel. (Let me just say that it should be the non-family channel, or the how to redefine The Family Channel. This show, which infuriatingly parson’s wife actually watches, it the most trite unreal dangerous piece of propaganda I’ve seen in a long time.) I don’t exactly like things being sold as “christian”, but you’ve got to start somewhere. What I share or like is this vision:

Will the day ever come when a church produces a film that wins an Academy Award? Or a musical that wins a Tony? Or a collection of poems or short stories that wins a Pulitzer? I pray that day will come. But the point, of course, is to change the world and not to win its applause. For believers, there is always an audience of One, and that One is pleased when we honor him with the best of our talents and efforts and also when we participate in the redemption and re-creation of all things.

The second link is related. I think it is actually the opposite of the first insight. I want you to look at the direction of its argument. It starts out with something that is true – church is the most culturally and ethnically segregated hour in the USA. Some of that is due to church strategies (such as most church growth programing of like attracts like). Some of that is due to the fact of geography – we live where we live. Some of that is culture. Black church culture is strong and different. In the same way liturgical churches and non-liturgical churches are just different. But it starts with something troubling and true, moves to something true but not really troubling (does anyone really want to spend another hour of their life watching a screen?), and then gets to something (the point) really questionable – the real world accepts homosexuality, so the church should also as a means of lessening the culture divide. Then look at the author’s suggestions. You start with something that every pastor should already be doing but then regress into dropping theology (as if doctrine were something trivial) and finally consult the experts – your teenagers. [Yes there is a smidgen of truth in some of the lines – dropping theology is not actually what is advocated, instead moving to story theology, but that is usually done so poorly they are the same thing. Yes, kids can help you at times and you should know what they are reading if just to be sure it is not the cultural arbiter.]

So instead of creating something that interacts with the world, even if it is sub-standard right now, but we are learning, link two says drive all the way to where the culture is at abandoning teachings and principles.

Art interacts with the world and seeks to change it. Christians do not so much want to use culture as to make it. They don’t want to be the iPad people but the people who create the apps used on it.

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