On Popular Culture

We affirm that much of popular culture is largely formulaic, sentimentalized, and tends toward banality and narcissism

“We deny that a rejection of popular culture is tantamount to elitism or a disdain for the average believer. We also deny that there are no contemporary examples of orthopathy, or that orthopathy exists solely in the past.”

This is a series to further explain the articles of “A Conservative Christian Declaration.”

We affirm that much of popular culture is largely formulaic, sentimentalized, and tends toward banality and narcissism. We affirm that much popular music, through its stereotyped form, lacks the ability to communicate transcendence, which is central to worship. We further affirm that the forms which emerged from those eras shaped largely by the secularizing forces of popular culture are often incompatible with ordinate affection.

We deny that a rejection of popular culture is tantamount to elitism or a disdain for the average believer. We also deny that there are no contemporary examples of orthopathy, or that orthopathy exists solely in the past.

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The central premises of this article flow naturally from the following principles that have been developed in preceding articles:

  1. Transcendent truth, goodness, and beauty exist, rooted in the nature and character of God.
  2. Recognizing, affirming, and delighting in these transcendent characteristics of God is central to Christian worship.
  3. One of the primary ways these realities about God are expressed are through works of the imagination that mean something.
  4. These works of imagination not only mean something, they also foster either ordinate or inordinate affection for God.

What follows from these presuppositions is that some works of the imagination are ill-fitted and unworthy of expressing such transcendent realities about God and his truth, goodness, and beauty.

The basis for whether a work of imagination is fitting is not necessarily when it was created or who created it. Thus what is worthy of use in worship is not based on what is “traditional” or “contemporary” if those terms refer to time; rather, what works of imagination are fitting for worship is dependent upon whether they have the capacity in themselves to support God’s values and nurture right affection for him.

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