All God's Children and Blue Suede Shoes (With a New Introduction Redesign): Christians and Popular Culture (Turning Point Christian Worldview Series) by Myers Ken

All God's Children and Blue Suede Shoes (With a New Introduction  Redesign): Christians and Popular Culture (Turning Point Christian Worldview Series) by Myers Ken

Author:Myers, Ken [Myers, Ken]
Language: eng
Format: mobi
Publisher: Crossway
Published: 1989-09-30T16:00:00+00:00

IN SEARCH OF EXCELLENCE

First, in Philippians 4:8, Paul writes, "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." Paul is commanding the Philippian Christians (and, by extension, all believers) to discipline their minds and hearts to reflect on excellence. He does not qualify his statement to say they should only think about excellent "spiritual" matters, matters pertaining to God directly. So it seems legitimate to believe that anything in the created realm that qualifies as being excellent or praiseworthy is good to reflect upon.

Furthermore, Paul does not say that we should reflect on what we think is lovely, or whatever we feel is admirable. We are to give sustained attention to whatever is objectively true and noble and right. One of the greatest problems with the way popular culture works is that it is so subjective. Praiseworthiness tends to be established by the market rather than by any objective standard.

In order to recognize what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable, we need to be able to recognize what is false, ignoble, wrong, impure, unlovely, and justly unadmired. But such categories are almost never applied to popular culture within its own borders, so to speak. In 1989 the Grammy Awards added a category for heavy metal bands. Is heavy metal noble and pure? Did any Grammy official raise such a question? Can you imagine an adolescent rock fan trying to persuade his peers that any song at the top of the charts lacks a sense of truth? One of the greatest limitations of the popular culture aesthetic is that it does not encourage the application of such objective categories.

Such subjectivist limitations are perhaps most evident when the aesthetic of popular culture has invaded the liturgy of the church. Consider this scenario. In your church next Sunday morning, a very earnest soloist sings a piece of music that is exceedingly trite, cliched, maudlin, and pretentious. You believe that such liturgical expression misses the mark set by Philippians 4:8 considerably. While the text it presented was generally true (though tainted by sentimentality), the music was not true, noble, lovely, or admirable. If the soloist had some classical music training, you might stand a chance of persuading her that this was the case. Classical music critics all have their own taste, but at least such categories are operating in their work, and they insist on distinguishing masterworks from schlock.

But try telling someone from the Barry Manilow School of Liturgy that something is schlock and they will regard you as an arrogant elitist. You say the music was not true, noble, or admirable; they say it was a "blessing" for them. But is their "blessing" purely a subjective matter? For popular culture enthusiasts, if it feels good, it is good. You could never persuade your parents that Lawrence Welk's repertoire was not really very true or noble or admirable. There were no objective standards you could appeal to.



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