Losing the Culture Wars

Recently I’ve been giving a lot of thought to how the Church interacts with the culture. It seems to me that in many cases, what passes for “Christian culture” is really just worldly culture with a Jesus fish slapped on it. Perhaps I’m being cynical.

Gene Edward Veith of World Magazine recently had a mention on his blog about a Christian videogame in which players either kill or convert Romans. Then today his post quotes a response he got from a guy who works for that video game company. You have to read this. The gamer basically said that Christians should shut up and not complain about bad theology in Christian games, but should enjoy taking turns being Satan or evil or whatever, because somebody’s got to be the bad guys or the game stinks. Um. Yeah. That’s fun for the whole family right there. “Hey little Jimmy, you have to be Satan tonight, ok? But then tomorrow I want you to go back to being godly, ok?” Good thing that’s not even slightly confusing.

I have to admit, given the choice between the games described as “Christian” and, say, Connect Four, I’ll choose the non-Christian game every time.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but why do we assume that Christians need to play Christian video games? Shouldn’t we give some serious thought to the games we play or the movies we watch or the music we listen to? It’s pretty dangerous to assume that you’re “safe” with Christian arts and media. I don’t think Christians should let their guards down when it comes to any aspect of culture – we need to be wise and discerning about what we put into our heads and hearts. Some things that aren’t explicitly Christian can still lead us toward Truth, and some things that are labeled as Christian can still lead us away from Truth. I feel like this is serious business, especially when it comes to children that you are trying to train up in the way they should go.

Why do Christians settle for third-rate pabulum arts? Shouldn’t Christians be out there creating the best art possible? Wouldn’t that glorify God more than Junk for Jesus? If you haven’t read it, Steve Turner (not the 2nd RP college student, but I’m sure the Steve we know could also write great books!) wrote a good book on the subject of Christians in the arts called “Imagine.” I think Christians who produce art in any form ought to be striving for excellence and truth, rather than striving for market share (not that the two are mutually exclusive in every case).

As a personal application, our family does give thoughtful consideration to the entertainment we consume, but we could stand to do more. I think we do a fairly good job of screening music to make sure we’re not listening to frighteningly bad theology from Christian artists, or to secular music that promotes or glorifies evil (yes, that does eliminate like 99% of hip hop and even about 68% of country…). We don’t do as well with TV shows – sometimes I find us watching something that is antithetical to our worldview, or shows a bad view of family life, and I wonder why we’re subjecting ourselves to it in the name of entertainment. Maybe thinking and talking about it is a good first step.

I’d be interested to hear how other readers interact with our culture. What are your thoughts on Christian versions of pop culture? What do you do personally or in your family to screen entertainment?

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