DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Catching Fire with Faith

Written by: on February 13, 2014

A new sermon series on the Holy Spirit began last weekend called “Catching Fire…Every revolution begins with a spark,” based on the Hunger Games books and movies.  The pastor briefly summarized the movie and how one person can infect a whole population and in this case, create a revolution.  He went on to discuss how someone filled with the Holy Spirit could do the same.  However, what was interesting was the time spent backpedaling, offering the disclaimer, “now I know you might not allow your kids to see these movies or read the books, so I’m not endorsing anything, I haven’t read them myself” etc. Why do Christians have such a hard time of reconciling popular culture with Christianity and faith? Popular Culture can be defined as the “study of the environment, practices and resources of everyday life.” (p.19)  Doesn’t sound too bad – but yet we are fearful of the intersection between faith and everyday life. Two different views arise: 1) that all is suspicious, potentially dangerous and antithetical to Christian faith, and 2) that it can be used to promote new and creative understandings of faith.  I love the second – that’s why I subscribe to Relevant Magazine! I am not a fan of Fireproof and Facing the Giants, although I know many people who have been encouraged and challenged by those films.  My concern is that although the theaters were filled, were they full of Christians?  I prefer movies such as; Walk the Line – with themes of forgiveness and redemption Harry Potter – where love, loyalty and sacrifice shine forth as examples to us all The Blind Side – compassion, care and acceptance are proofs of faith Bruce Almighty – this is just a great picture to start a discussion about God! These are pop culture films which can cause dialogue among, not the Christian base, but with everyone. The readings this past week spoke strongly of this tension between faith and pop culture (with a little lament and internet thrown in).  According to Vanhoozer, ”theology is the relevance of the Bible and faith, as we seek to understand everyday life (p. 16).”  Instead of retreating and hiding from culture, we as Christians need to embrace and engage pop culture so that we can mark it or re-write it ourselves. A popular discipline in my church is to “fast” from things – and usually shout it to everyone!  Many fast from food or drink but lately, the trend is to fast from television (except sports – the line is usually drawn there) or from facebook and the internet.  Not a bad idea.  But what I hear in the halls are remarks condemning a variety of TV shows or specials.  When asked why, the response is usually a pious – “well, I haven’t seen it and I don’t watch TV now, I’m fasting, but those morals are terrible.”  They might be right, but to dislocate ourselves into a bubble of spirituality can possibly create a more righteous person – but one with no influence in the world.  I prefer Jesus’ example in this regard. As De Certeaus says, we need to learn to “poach” elements form popular culture and redeem them for our own purposes (p. 57).  Using the language of popular culture, Christians can speak their own meanings in ways that communicate to all.  Instead of looking at media or the internet as an instrument for use, we need to see it as “integrally related to culture.” Maybe we need to fast from fasting and get caught up with pop culture?

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Phil Smart

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