Eyes Wide Open: Looking for God in Popular Culture

Movies, for better or worse, are the lingua franca of our culture, or as close to a common languages as we come–Gore Vidal.

Some Christians believe God requires minimal cultural engagement.  I disagree.  I believe Christians should be studying, discerning positive and negative aspects, and working to redeem culture–William Romanowski, author of Eyes Wide Open: Looking for God in Popular Culture.
  • Beginning this Sunday 9:15 am in the adult education room.  
  • Format: DVD teaching followed by group discussion.
  • The quotes below give a flavor of our direction and conversation in this class.

Many people admit “that they don’t really know how to discuss a movie or television show very deeply or talk about the latest CD.  They think their faith should matter when it comes to popular art, but without a critical approach, they defer to their personal tastes and preferences.

People understandably like those artworks that affirm their view of life.  But a good faith-informed criticism should not simply be a matter of applauding artworks that advocate a certain moral or ideological position (on abortion or capital punishment, for example) or contain recognizable theological themes (tales of redemption).  Would it not be of greater value to direct our energies toward developing an approach that considers the significance and quality of artistic endeavors, and the extent to which various artworks deepen our understanding of God’s world?

I propose to think of faith as providing the context for artistic engagement.  This counters the widely held belief that subject matter is what makes a popular artwork “Christian” by putting emphasis instead on artistic qualities and the perspective brought to bear on that subject.  This approach affirms the essential artistic character of popular art while recognizing the many roles and purposes it fulfills in serving our neighbor.

Does popular art (movies, TV, music) reflect society or steer and help create it?

Should Christians avoid popular culture, accept it uncritically or is there a third way of engagement?

Do you think Christians can or should make or watch R-rated films?  Does removing objectionable content make a film better?  Conversely does including objectionable content make a film better?


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