When your boss writes a book, it’s always in your best interest to read it…especially when your boss writes a book on a topic that directly affects your ministry to students and their parents. So, I recently sat down with T.M. Moore, Pastor of Teaching Ministries at our church, and asked him some questions about his latest book, Redeeming Pop Culture: A Kingdom Approach (P & R Publishers, 2003, 157 pages).
As a youth pastor, I’ve been greatly helped by this theologically practical look at how Christians can engage, and even enjoy, our postmodern popular culture. Yes, I said enjoy. I have to admit that when I first heard about this book I was apprehensive due to how we Christians typically approach pop culture: we are cynical about it, dismiss it, disregard it, or boycott it. Christians seem to enrage the producers of pop culture more than we engage them. So, I was pleasantly surprised to read that Christians could not only engage pop culture, but also could actually enjoy it and employ it for the sake of the gospel! But that is not to say that the book suggests that Christians never critique pop culture. In fact, there is a chapter entitled “Judging Popular Culture” in which we are taught how to examine pop culture through a biblical understanding of beauty, goodness, and truth.
Kudzu, Culture, and the Kingdom
Listen in as I ask T.M. a few questions about his book:
Jimmy: T.M., you begin your book by comparing pop culture to kudzu. First, for our non-southern readers, tell us what kudzu is. Then tell us why you think it makes a great metaphor for pop culture.
T.M.: Well, kudzu, as you know, Jimmy, is a rather tenacious vine which was imported to the south in the hope that, since it grows so quickly, it might prove useful as cattle food. It did not, however, although it is used for erosion control and even some landscaping. Unchecked, however, it grows over everything – trees, whole copses, telephone poles and wires, even homes – so that the shape of those things is recognizable still, but all you can see is kudzu.
Jimmy: Let’s ask the obvious question right up front, so we’re all on the same page: What is Pop Culture?
TM: Pop culture is a form of American and world culture which cuts across all other types of culture and features a variety of forms, all of which are designed to deliver an entertainment of one kind or another. Pop culture forms include TV, film, music, various types of literature (romance novels, magazines, and so forth), and even sports. Its principle characteristics are its ubiquity, diversity, short-term longevity, dedication to entertainment, and concern for a healthy bottom line.
To be continued…