As part of his Doctor of Ministry (DMin) inÂ Ministry to Emerging GenerationsÂ (Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary), Tom’s written a number of book responses and given several short presentations (personal and group). In this series he not only “shares the wealth,” but also looks forward to your feedback as he refines his project: An argument for vocational discernment for graduate studies in the context of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (Stay tuned to learn more!). Earlier posts on the program: Ministry to Emerging Generations and The Big Picture of Ministry to Emerging Generations.
Popcultured: Thinking Christianly About Style, Media, and Entertainment
Steve Turner begins Popcultured: Thinking Christianly About Style, Media and Entertainment (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2013) by asserting that we have all become â€œpopcultured.â€ Although I do not want to confess such, it is all too true. Popcultured provides a much needed toolkit for â€œhow we can be faithfully Christian while participating in and perhaps even creating popular cultureâ€ (13). I particularly appreciated the end of chapter â€œQuestions for Reflection or Discussion,â€ resource recommendations (books and websites), and â€œFive Suggestions for Actionâ€ enabling the reader to take next steps individually and as part of small groups.
Although Turner embraces the generally accepted narrative of and definition of â€œpop cultureâ€ (Chapter 2) he provides a healthy summary of the Christian basis for engaging and understanding culture (Chapter 1, 3) before exploring particular areas of popular culture. I appreciated his receiving counsel in his focused chapters and offering additional resource recommendations. The wrestling with bias in Journalism: Reading Between the Lines (Chapter 5) hit me as I reflect uponÂ intense conversations at Urbana Student Missions Conference regarding global missions (including the importance of engaging the local context before being sent forth in mission). I confess taking pictures, interviewing and gathering of quotes with specific ends in mind. I try to be above board, but advancing my [ministry] ends drives much of my life. I will give this, along with celebrity and status â€œcurrencyâ€, more prayerful consideration in daily ministry and communications.
With regard to Fashion: The Language of Clothes (Chapter 7), when I was younger I resisted the temptation to pursue popular clothes. As I have matured I have realized the bridge clothing provides to people â€œlistening.â€ With this being the case I have asked for advice from family in preparation for particular contexts, e.g., Urbana Student Missions Conference dinner, booth, reception, and seminar presentation.
An exploration of the value of intergenerational family conversation would be a helpful addition to Chapter 7. In Ever-Greater Thrills: The Search for Sensation (Chapter 8), I would appreciate the addition of an exploration of the value of Shalom (peace) and rest. Technology: Rewiring the World (Chapter 11) only touches the tip of the concerns. Technology has become an overarching, dare I say foundational communication concern. I recommend addressing this in Chapter 2 and moving Technology chapter to earlier in the sequence, possibly even Chapter 4.
What Should I Do? Consuming, Critiquing, Creating (Chapter 14) provides a helpful conclusion. Although discernment, faithfulness, and wisdom are all vital pieces to action, I return to Os Guinnessâ€™ emphasis upon prayer and action in Renaissance: The Power of the Gospel However Dark the Times (InterVarsity Press, 2014). I step into ministry and the training of others with the emphasis upon prayer and action.
To God be the glory!
About the author:
Tom enjoys daily conversations regarding living out the Biblical Story with his wife Theresa and their four girls, around the block, at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church (where he teaches adult electives and co-leads a small group), among healthcare professionals as the Northeast Regional Director for the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA), and in higher ed as a volunteer with the Emerging Scholars Network (ESN). For a number of years, the Christian Medical Society / CMDA at Penn State College of Medicine was the hub of his ministry with CMDA. Note: Tom served with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship / USA for 20+ years, including 6+ years as the Associate Director of ESN. He has written for the ESN blog from its launch in August 2008. He has studied Biology (B.S.), Higher Education (M.A.), Spiritual Direction (Certificate), Spiritual Formation (M.A.R.), Ministry to Emerging Generations (D.Min.). To God be the glory!