Looking Forward: General Culture in 2009

Many Christians remain on the defensive in response to the culture around them, pointing out dangers and condemning anything that makes us uncomfortable. We find warning and condemnation to be a valid position, but not a valid default position. In order to demonstrate an alternative, we thought we’d demonstrate what it’s like to give popular culture the benefit of the doubt. All this week, the writers at Christ and Pop Culture will be playing the role of evangelist for some of the things we’re most excited about this year.

We’re not exactly recommending these things. Christians have different weaknesses and convictions, not to mention the unfinished or unrevealed nature of the concepts, releases, and artifacts we’re discussing. Nonetheless, this week we humbly present to you, the reader, a list of trends, films, television shows, albums, games, and books that we think you should give a chance.

Popular culture is more than the books, movies and music that we find ourselves embracing as a whole. It’s also the general trends and attitudes that dominate our culture. These trends and attitudes often manifest themselves in the media, but they end up in the private areas of our lives as well. Attitudes reinforced in news reports and pop songs are often played out in conversations with our family, in decisions we make from day to day, and in the priorities we make for ourselves.

For this reason, I thought it would be good to list the Most Anticipated General Culture Trends of 2009. It’s the stuff pop-culture is made of.

A Decrease in Materialism
There is a sense in which American Materialism will most likely never die. It is a persistent product of the human condition. And yet, for the first time in quite a while, it is becoming okay to be without a job. It goes without saying that most of us will be just fine with a car that just works.
While products used to be able to sell themselves based on status alone, it’s now becoming more embarassing to be rich than it is to be poor. I’m pretty sure Jesus had a similar outlook.

Churches Make some Hard Choices
While some claimed the economic downturn would bring more people, and therefore more money, into the churches, it’s becoming clear that economic hardship for churchgoers oftentimes means economic disaster for churches. When churches are faced with simply not having enough money to do all they once could or planned on, they will be forced to decide what is really important. Do we buy a projector or feed the homeless? Do we invest in media or evangelism? Is our church’s existance justified if there’s another church just like us down the road, or should we swallow our pride and join them? These are decisions that define a church.

An Appreciation for Work
Have you tried complaining about your job lately? You may get a series of head-nods for a while, but you can set your watch by the inevitable “at least you have a job.” And unlike perhaps a year ago, that sentiment rings true these days. Skyrocketing unemployment is like cancer this year. Every one of us knows someone who was affected and we all feel incredibly fortunate to still have our jobs. We work harder, we let bad treatment roll off of our backs, we show up on time, and we don’t complain – at least as much. And that’s the way it should be.

Dishonorable Mention: The Side-Effects of Economic Bitterness
If there’s one thing I’m not looking forward to this year, it’s the deepening resentment and bitterness that accompanies those of us who feel entitled to certain things but aren’t getting those things. Let’s be frank: we all feel as if we deserve a job. We’ve all grown used to a yearly raise. Now, all of a sudden we’re losing our jobs despite hard work and we’re getting reductions in pay just because some finance guys somewhere screwed up. It’s frustrating, and it’s going to get worse. Things to watch out for: blaming others, paranoia, doubting God’s goodness, and losing our integrity. It’s sad, but when our wallets are being messed with, Christians tend to drop the masks and play to win.

About Richard Clark

Richard H. Clark is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Christ and Pop Culture. He has a Master of Arts in Theology and the Arts from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He lives in Louisville, Ky. He is also the managing editor of Gamechurch and a freelance writer for Unwinnable, Paste, and other outlets.
E-mail: clarkrichardh [at] gmail [dot] com.
Twitter: @deadyetliving

  • http://www.missionaryconfidential.com/ C. Holland

    We’re already seeing the Bitterness Side Effects over here in Western Europe. Just this weekend a Christian friend was dangerously close to losing his job due to the economy. His response: “But I’ve been doing so many good things for God! Where is He now?” The job is safe for the moment, but it made me think…why are we okay with receiving undeserved blessings but can’t understand undeserved trials?

    Good post; I agree with the other three points as well.

    C. Hollands last blog post..Fresh Views on Missions in the 21st Century

  • http://www.christandpopculture.com/ Richard Clark

    Yeah, it’s a struggle for all of us. Losing a job can be hard because it feels so unjust, especially when we’ve spent so long convincing ourselves that most poor people deserve it because they spend all their money on drugs.

    Anyway, it’s something we need to be sensitive to. Losing your job is more than losing money and material goods. It affects our pride, our sense that we’re adding to society, and it makes us wonder if something’s wrong with us. It can really work a person over, especially if they’re doing something in the realm of ministry.

    It’s no wonder we question God in such situations. May God give the church faith to trust and to love in these hard times.


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