Redeeming Pop Culture: A Kingdom Approach

When I first received this manuscript from P & R, two things intrigued me; first, knowing T. M. Moore and appreciating his writings and second, the title had to do with kudzu. The publishers have given it a more sophisticated title but the metaphor of kudzu still runs throughout the book. Kudzu, as Moore explains, is that green tenacious southern vine that grows everywhere in the south. While it has unusual charm and can serve a good purpose, it can easily overgrow and overwhelm everything in its path.

This is a book that I recommend because we are engulfed in pop culture that reaches into every area of our lives. Our decisions about food, clothing, music, even worship and lifestyle are strongly influenced by pop culture. Ken Myers’s book, All God’s Children and Blue Suede Shoes, was one of the first books that challenged us to understand that in the 20th century, as a result of the rapid spread of modernity; we added pop culture to our high culture and folk culture. In many ways, pop culture is a dumbing down kind of culture that is not all bad but has the rudiments of unsophistication. It promotes doing what feels good verses making careful and deliberate decisions.

Our challenge, as Moore reminds us, is not to take on the impossible by eliminating the kudzu, but rather concentrated on controlling it. Of course that is an endless job. Those who are willing to see the problem and rise to the challenge will find this book helpful in that endeavor.

We are given four ways of dealing with pop culture. According to Moore, none of them are complete in themselves; therefore, we are challenged to take a more biblical approach. This requires keeping abreast of trends, artists, and things like the TV media. As evangelical Christians, we cannot ignore pop culture because we are here on a mission and that requires a certain relationship to pop culture that will enable us to carry out our task of making disciples.

Moore points out that the impact of pop culture stems from its appeal to our emotions. He builds on earlier writings of Jonathan Edwards to make his case. “Anything that captures the hearts and imagination of so many people, and with so much passion and intensity, should certainly be of concern to evangelical Christians,” writes Moore.

Dealing with pop culture is a kingdom activity, and we totally agree. He delineates five aspects of our kingdom calling: 1. Our calling is spiritual in nature, 2. It entails both temporal and material, 3. The calling is uniquely fitted to each individual Christian, 4. Our calling has a communal dimension, and 5. It also has eschatological dimensions.

You will not only learn about pop culture and how Christians are to handle it, but will also learn about the kingdom of God and what being a kingdom Christian involves.

Having recently completed a manuscript on kingdom discipleship, I welcomed this as a companion to use alongside. One of my points is that it is essential in discipling Christians to help them to understand that effectiveness, survival, and ministry requires that we be self-conscious kingdom Christians. Moore says, “We cannot effectively engage the popular culture of our day without first resolving to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness as the top priority in all we do.” He further states, “By taking a kingdom approach to our involvement with popular culture-as opposed to an unthinking, merely pleasure-oriented approach-we may expect to benefit in all these ways, achieving better understanding, better communications, better recreating, better celebration, and better culture.”

This is a good personal read and study book, but it could also be used with a group. The six chapters could easily be stretched into 12 classes, if necessary.

Charles Dunahoo pastored churches in Georgia and Alabama before being called to his present position as Coordinator for the PCA of Christian Education and Publications (CEP).

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