It is really difficult to talk about Christianity and culture. This is because there is such diversity of thought about how they are to relate if, in fact, they are to relate at all. There are those who see the culture in which we live as the enemy of Christianity and so have nothing but disdain when addressing the subject.
Others see no problem with adapting to the culture when speaking of methods and believe to do so makes for giving our gospel message a better hearing. The consequence has been an introduction of media, atmosphere, entertainment, facilities and a myriad of other cultural tools that are an attempt to draw people to the gathering of the Church for that hearing of the gospel.
Whether or not the final verdict is in on the effect all this is having on Christianity is also debatable perhaps. But one person has offered his opinion on that effect. I'm speaking of Ken Meyers of Mars Hill Audio and author of the book entitled "All God's Children and Blue Suede Shoes"
One of the best quotes in that book is this, .."I believe that the challenge of living with popular culture may well be as serious for modern Christians as persecution and plagues were for the saints of earlier centuries. . . Enemies that come loudly and visibly are usually much easier to fight than those that are undetectable. . . But the erosion of character, the spoiling of innocent pleasures, and the cheapening of life itself that often accompany modern popular culture can occur so subtly that we believe nothing has happened."
If you think Myers has joined the 'abandon culture because it's the enemy' Christian group, you would be mistaken. He ALSO said this in speaking about Fundamentalists of the past...."Rather than attempting to understand what was happening in modern culture, they retreated to a cultural ghetto." Meyers did not mean that as a compliment by the way.
What Meyers did do rather effectively is to show that culture is complex. In his book he divides culture into three categories. Those categories are Folk culture, High culture, and a somewhat new phenomenon he calls Pop culture.
According to Meyers, High culture is generally a society attempting to elevate the thoughts and emotions of the people and has as its' goal an ability to reflect seriously on things that transcends the present and bringing people along in that thinking.
He sees Folk culture as a unique worldview of a particular place, community, or group of people. It is the communal sharing of traditions and values. Folk culture holds the people accountable to the community for those traditions and values..
Pop culture, however, is the leveling out of the High and expanding of the Folk in an attempt to appeal to all peoples. It winds up being an attempt to appeal to the masses by taking on a marketing style approach and becomes, as a result, strongly individualistic rather than community.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that when Meyers criticizes the Church for embracing it's culture it is the Pop culture that he is referring to. A quote from one who critiqued his book says this..."One of the key issues that Meyer is seeking to address is the wholesale embrace of the methodology of pop culture by the church under the banner of contextualization. He points out that the church has long been the bastion of High culture, elevating minds and hearts and focusing people’s attention to the transcendent, and folk culture, instilling communal values and cultural heritage. Now, however, the church is often simply imitating the worst of pop culture and mixing in a little Jesus."
Now reread the quote from the opening of this post and it will make a little more sense I think.
"I believe that the challenge of living with popular culture may well be as serious for modern Christians as persecution and plagues were for the saints of earlier centuries. . . Enemies that come loudly and visibly are usually much easier to fight than those that are undetectable. . . But the erosion of character, the spoiling of innocent pleasures, and the cheapening of life itself that often accompany modern popular culture can occur so subtly that we believe nothing has happened."
Maybe the book might be worth the reading! What do you think?