Most people don’t care for Pop Culture, and yet most people adhere to it. It’s impossible to avoid, in fact. Even those who make a point of hating everything that comes from Pop Culture are still affected by it, even ruled by it.
So what is Pop Culture? We know it’s not controlled by an individual or even a group of individuals. There may be record and movie company executives making decisions about what they think people want, but even they get side-swiped by unexpected trends in Pop Culture.
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Pop Culture is not a single entity. It’s a collection of ideas and trends, opinions, faiths, persuasions that could come from an individual, but they don’t. No one person controls these ideas. They are moved by emotions, by gossip, by wanting to know what everyone else knows, by wanting in on what everyone else is in on. Pop Culture, in essence, is a mob.
And there is nothing so mindlessly destructive than a mob. They can range from bad to worse, from property destruction to lives lost, to homes burned and physical altercations. A mob is incredibly emotional, incredibly violent, and virtually mindless.
But don’t jump the gun on me yet. Pop Culture isn’t quite the physical monstrosity of a well-inebriated post-super bowl crowd. It doesn’t commit acts of violence (not really), but it does have the same emotional mindlessness associated with a mob. And it makes things happen, for better or worse.
So where does Christianity fit into all this?
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Christianity, the religion of old white ladies with pursed lips, disapproving eyebrows, and a long list of DO NOTS (thank you, Dana Carvey) is bound to put a damper on any Pop Culture party. A mob ruled by emotions and basic, animalistic cravings is not going to put up with something telling it to stop.
But Pop Culture doesn’t hate Christianity for that reason. If that were the case, Pop Culture would hate all religions, all calls to self-discipline and restraint. Other religions like Buddhism, Islam, and Hinduism also have a strict set of standards and often require far more self-restraint than Christianity. But these religions differ from Christianity in that they have a sense of otherness that’s easy to romanticize.
Christianity does not, however. Why? Because Pop Culture was birthed from Circumstantial Christianity.
What started as a subversive religion eventually conquered the world, becoming a pandemic that spread from nation to nation and–perhaps–suffered from the Bilbo Baggins lament of “butter scraped over too much bread.” Perhaps not. Perhaps it was spoiled by the sinfulness and laziness of its followers. Either way, it is now understood to be something that more closely resembles American prosperity than a radical, revolutionary faith that challenged–and changed–the world.
In place of that faith is Circumstantial Christianity, which has led us to a generation of people who have just enough knowledge of Christianity to own it but never truly understand it.
And like any petulant, overly-privileged offspring, Pop Culture wishes to undo Christianity, to overthrow it, to make up its own religion, one that doesn’t judge its wrongdoings. It has embraced all the forbidden things Circumstantial Christianity condemns and rages against that which brought it into existence. It is the byproduct of Christians of circumstance, the fruit that withers on the tree, the monster we continue to feed.