Posted by: Ken Brown | February 6, 2009

Enganging Culture Means All Culture–Not Just What’s Hip

Owen Strackan gets it exactly right (HT Christ and Pop Culture):

Readers of this blog will know that I want to “engage culture” even as I want to be what is often called “incarnational.” But as some are increasingly pointing out (see pastor Kevin DeYoung’s hilarious and correct post on this topic), engaging culture does not mean that one must own a Mac, listen to Sufjan Stevens, Bob Dylan, and Bon Iver, watch CNN, listen contemplatively to NPR, drink local-brand coffee only, and cultivate stylish facial hair.

One may be engaging culture with these sorts of life choices. If so, terrific! But isn’t one also engaging culture, so to speak, by listening to Hank Williams, eating at Wendy’s (note: I do not encourage this), and seeking to witness at the local truck stop? Are these things not “culture” that we should engage? Or is “culture” only what is branded cool by the upwardly mobile?

It seems to me that many of us have become so concerned about distancing ourselves from fundamentalism that we have abandoned the low-brow culture entirely. We tell ourselves that this is part of our witness–that we want to show that Christianity doesn’t have to be ignorant and backwards-looking–but the truth is, we’ve grown comfortable with our “upwardly mobile” lifestyle and don’t want to give it up. Jesus commanded us to “deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me,” but it’s a lot easier to pamper yourself, take up your Starbucks and follow what’s cool.

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