Jim’s comments on “Merchants of Cool” and the failure of adults to protect kids from the producers highlighted an interesting aspect of marketing predominantly to youth culture…. it glorifies youth culture as the biggest or best in society. Even though a massive amount of the add market is devoted to the Boomers, it doesn’t glorify that culture. I mean is the need for Viagra really a high water mark in a persons life, is erectile dysfunction a “cool” aspect of getting older?
Why don’t adults protect youths from the destructive targeting of the producers? Is it because adults, secretly or openly, want to be young again? Does the youth oriented marketing and its glorification of the young distract adults from their responsibility to grow older and wiser, more confident of their own identity, and willing to share their knowledge with those who come after them? I honestly don’t have a clue. My guess is that adults have their own stuff to deal with and just don’t recognize the assault that is taking place.
Can the church even respond to the producers without coming across as old fashioned and judgmental? My guess is that the church’s only relevant response is in supporting and enabling the youth, one at a time.
today, as we were talking about the place of secondary production within the Christian canon, I started to think about the origins of what we call the “Christian Canon”. It was essentially built and established by a bunch of Jews who were reproducing the Jewish canon to better suit their purposes. Reproducing and finding new uses for text is in our spiritual heritage, the question is, was it done perfectly the first time, our should we be constantly seeking new reproductions based on the foundational principles of the gospel and treating all the other principles as flexible and “un-sacred”?
The feedback loop is kinda crazy because it draws attention onto the already experienced and forces interpretation to take place through an established lens. This established lens is admittedly tempered to respond to the lowest common denominator with in a target society. This means that, unless the feedback loop is broken or reoriented, progressive rotations of the loop will show progressive degradation. How can we positively influence the loop, and stimulate it in such a way, to appeal to the higher desires within culture which are largely untapped?
While I would like to disagree with Ben when he states, “I cannot think of a better place to implement this model than here in the U.S.”, I don’t think that I can. One thing that irritates me to the core is when I hear Americans comment on how broken America is in relation to other places. I’ve been all around the world and seen the pure destructive crap that exists in countless cultures and societies, and while I would never claim that America is perfect, it is a far cry from the worst, in fact, a legitimate argument can be made for it being the greatest country in the world (sorry to those of you who are offended by this reality). This may be the reason why Ben is right. The most destructive lies are the ones that change the least amount of the truth, this is because they are easy to disguise and can corrupt peoples perception of the truth. America probably comes closer to accurately representing Christianity than any other country, the problem is that it falls short. Instead of changing our cultural traits which are counter to the gospel, we get trapped in the self righteous passivity of knowing that, as a whole, we have come closer than the rest. The U.S. is a prime place to practice the countercultural model because it is God that we need to compare ourselves to and not the rest of the world. This statement is also true for Christians. Just being the best of the broken doesn’t make being broken any less sad.
The comment that popular religion reflects a more hospitable home to beliefs of “life everlasting” than those of scholars and theologians reveals a few things. One, is that people aren’t apposed to concepts of heaven or the afterlife, in fact it appeals to the hopeful nature that is present in most of them. Another is that scholars and theologians tend to spend more time on topics that can be explained and understood logically, which means that they can overlook issues that tingle in the unknown recesses of the human heart. The hope that rests in most people is a ready avenue for interaction between the church and the greater society, and in the thoughts of C.S. Lewis, reveals the deeper reality of God. What is important, isn’t the specifics of what ‘life everlasting” will specifically look like, but the nature of the one who knows, i.e. God. The true hope doesn’t rest in the place, but in the one who makes the place possible; this is what we can speak confidently about.
The countercultural model is a dangerous one to embrace, but I believe is also the most important. It embraces the offensive nature of the gospel but recognizes the need to offend for the right reason. The gospel confronts postmodern individualism and points to the life and teachings of Jesus stating, “This is a truth that is foundational to life; believe and be transformed.” It is this transformation that is the greatest tool Christianity has to impact culture. What is scary about it is that “we” as Christians don’t control it, this is because it comes from participating in God’s mission. The countercultural model doesn’t “offend” by standing against culture, but by agreeing with God and standing against the evils that are in culture. I imagine that the hardest aspect of embracing the countercultural model is accepting that the greatest change comes first in the believer, and second in aspects of culture that the believer initially had little interest in.
In thinking about the four sections that we watched from “The Merchants of Cool”, I can’t get over the fact that the first three didn’t bother me yet the fourth just about crushed me. While the first three were interesting and provided food for thought they didn’t impact me nearly as much as the one on “The Mid-rifts”. The first three paint a picture of a courtship between taste, behavior, and products; a give and take between mostly willing victims. The fourth represents a domination of a group through redefining worth and identity. How can we as friends, Christians, brothers, etc. respond to the destructive myth making that the culture supports?
In talking about Bakhtin and his thoughts on carnival and how it fits in the church, I started to wonder about films like ‘Jesus Camp’ and ‘Saved’. Can the church engage them and learn from them, or will it simply ignore them? I’ve only seen clips of ‘Jesus Camp’ but it reminded me of my response to ‘Saved’; I don’t want non-christian watching them, but I want all Christians, especially the ones who are offended by them, to watch them and learn at least how they are perceived by the culture that is outside the sanctuary.
Randy raised an issue with the transcendental model that had concerned me also. Essentially, to what extent can we trust our experiences to accurately guide us in developing and understanding theology? People mis the boat all the time when it comes to understanding experiences, the problems are only magnified when spiritual issues are involved. Peter himself was bipolar in his ability to understand what was going on, and he had the benefit of having Jesus constantly explaining stuff to him. Personal experiences are key in any development of theology; if they don’t connect there are going to be issues and people are going to have a hard time connecting with you. It seems that, as Randy commented, there is the need to balance experience with scripture. Paul had an experience on the road to Damascus that completely transformed his theology. Even though he didn’t learn it from man, he still tested it against what other believers held to be true and saw the need to connect it with scripture.
One of the challenges that we have, and should embrace, is that we represent the other. We are the y to God’s x. So often we see ourselves in relation to the world around us and we forget that we should be looking at ourselves in relation to God. The comment that the answer to WWJD about the Church being the Church is a challenge that can never be met, not that it shouldn’t be engaged. God is the ultimate undeconstructable playing out through the world in the now and the not yet of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. If we ever deem ourselves the x to the worlds y we are cosmically screwed, we will have lost touch with the need to ask the question to which the answer is “Jesus”.