Author: Steve Turner
Publisher: InterVarsity Press June 11, 2013
Rating: 3 1/2 Stars for Good
Source: Free copy from InterVarsity Press in exchange for a review.
This review was first featured at The Christian Manifesto.
When we watch television, listen to music, engage in social media, read magazines and books, they bring us into the fold of culture.
Whether it is the new Spring fashion line of clothes, or what happened at the Academy Awards, or what actor has made a recent film, our interest is peaked in what the world outside our busy life is doing.
In the last twenty years reality television has issued a new wave of culture, we are the voyeur in the lives of people who are not pretending and acting, or are they?
Popcultured: Thinking Christianly About Style, Media and Entertainment, author Steve Turner, takes the view of culture a step further by explaining its personal and spiritual affect on Christians.
Steve Turner addresses questions such as: Why should we care about culture, and how does it influence us?
All forms of media and entertainment are explored, from fashion to comedy, and from advertising to films.
Culture and media is a hot issue for Christians, some believe it to be carnal and perverse; however, unless we live in a cave we cannot escape it.
Jesus tells us in John 17:14-18, “I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.” ESV.
Steve Turner stays away from heavy theology and Bible study on culture, but he does mention Jesus' use of parables in teaching. Parables were vivid, applicable, teaching stories Jesus used to help people understand: forgiveness, the nature of the kingdom, selfless and kind acts, and repentance.
Turner brought the use of parables to mind, because modern film makers and authors, utilize a parable type message to implement to the viewer. The message might be social injustice, or modern day slavery, or the affects of environmental waste.
Comedy has transitioned from slapstick and at least PG rated, to a “pushing the envelope” stand up routine. In the 70s comedians such as George Carlin and Richard Pryor began using language that had been banned before then.
Turner emphasizes the need for Biblical wisdom. Repeated messages can manipulate us in to thinking and believing something we once thought was wrong is now okay. We have been bitten by the desensitized bug.
One of my favorite quotes from Steve Turner is in the later half of the book: “ Wisdom is an insight into living. It offers advice that proves to be true. It speaks from well-earned experience.” page 233.
I felt Popcultured gave me an insight I'd not had before on culture, and it definitely made me think about how culture has shaped and influenced me.
I enjoyed the chapter on what Hollywood and other media culture thinks of Christians, in explaining the way Christians are typecast.
I feel Steve Turner is a strong leader in this field and has knowledge about the media, culture, and society issues. He has kept abreast of this genre, meeting and interviewing people in the music industry, as well as actors and authors, for at least four decades.
I would like to have read more on the affects of the media and culture on children, and further what and how parents can instill in their children a wise coarse of action. I feel this was the main drawback of the book.
A second point where I felt a pull to disagree, the author stated in the beginning of the book, “The Bible doesn't recognize it (culture) as a separate category.” Page 43. And I disagree with a second statement, “Those who live by popular culture alone are depriving themselves, but so are those who live by the Bible alone. We become more balanced, useful, enriched, holistic Christians when we take advantage of culture.” Page 47.
I disagree, because the Bible is God's Word.
Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” ESV.
Culture should not define a Christian, and further we are never deprived by the Bible-God's Word.
Link at Amazon: Popcultured.