On Sunday, God flipped a switch in Louisville. It was a single switch with two results: electricity turned off, and community turned on. As you may have heard, Hurricane Ike meandered its way to Louisville, Kentucky and took out 60% of the city’s electricity, effectively rendering its inhabitants utterly devoid of television, video games, and computers. Instead, everyone went outside and played on an uprooted tree (I’ll have a great story about that tree in the comments sometime soon), discussed the weather, and enjoyed one anothers company. When pop culture disappeared from our lives, what appeared in its place was one another. It simply ought not to be this way.
Christians are meant to partake in pop culture in an altogether different way than the world, and this doesn’t mean we avoid rated R movies. Jesus had something specific in mind when it came to the defining mark of the ones who believed in Him: “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35) This mark doesn’t merely apply to our church-life and charity priorities. It applies equally to the way we relate to and enjoy popular culture.
Christians in this culture are much too susceptible to the tendency to forget this mark when we leave our local church building. All sorts of areas are affected by this tendency, and our consumption of various types of popular media is primary in this failure.
It is often seen as normal to read, watch or play alone. Many of us have “guilty pleasures” that we often refrain from bringing up around others. We view television shows and films as not quite important enough to talk purposefully about with fellow Christians. When it comes to pop culture, the church as a whole seems to have adopted the attitude that our choices and media related experiences are “between me and God.”
We were not created for island living, and we were not created to keep certain aspects of our life partitioned off from the church. Accountability, encouragement and openness should be values that affect the way we approach film, television, video games, comic books and any other form of popular culture.
Electricity didn’t just switch back on in Louisville, Kentucky. It came back in waves. Sections of the city were fixed one by one, giving the opportunity for something miraculous to happen. People invited one another over (and some invited themselves) to enjoy video games, movies, and to use their internet. And they felt kind of bad about just using one another for their stuff, so they talked, and often they talked about what they were experiencing together. And with that, the switch was split into to, and at least for a while, both of them were set to “on”.