Jonathan Fitzgerald is one of my favorite bloggers. When you read his posts at Patrol, it’s like you can see him leaving evangelicalism before your very eyes. And now he’s written a book, Not Your Mother’s Morals: How the New Sincerity is Changing Pop Culture for the Better. I endorsed it, cuz it’s good. You should buy it, and read it. Just to give you a taste, here’s an excerpt:
I realized just how universal the whole “spiritual, but not religious” thing had become recently while helping a friend fill out a Match.com profile. When it came time define religion, all the old standards were there, but beneath those, the final option was “spiritual, but not religious.” We considered for a few minutes, and she ultimately decided to check the box. “I can work with that,” she joked.
On the surface, this trend may seem to indicate that old Nietzsche was right—God is indeed dead, or at least dying. But that misses the real significance of this shift. These numbers don’t point to people giving up on belief; rather, they show people checking out of organized religion. Maybe this is still bad news for those of us who have not abandoned religious traditions, but, I mean, at least God’s not dead, right?
An unadvertised side effect of this trend away from organized religion is that the transmission of ethics and morality—which has long been the domain of the church—has fallen to other institutions. Here, popular culture has stepped in and become a prominent transmitter of morality, as well as a more liberated space to explore our ideas about all things spiritual outside the constraints of a dogmatic religion.
This would have horrified my youth pastors, but I actually think it’s good news.
From the sudden popularity of comic book-based movies, through the obsession with wizardry, vampires and the undead, to popular writing about the origins of the universe and the role of religious belief in scientific inquiry, God is showing up in every corner of popular culture. The rise of the “Nones,” along with the emphasis on authenticity, has created a space in all kinds of media to publicly consider and in many cases openly believe in God without fear of ridicule or rejection.