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A fellow named Brad East has recently written a little essay “Against Pop Culture.” Despite the title, he is not denouncing pop culture as totally sinful or exhorting Christians to have nothing to do with it.  He admits, either in this essay or in further clarifications, that he has at least one TV show he is looking forward to following in its new season.  His point is to challenge the claim by many Christians today that engaging with pop culture is really important and valuable.  To quote:

The boring fact is that Christians like pop culture for the same reasons everyone else does—it’s convenient, undemanding, diverting, entertaining, and socially rewarded—and Christians with an audience either (1) rationalize that fact with high-minded justifications, (2) invest that activity with meaning it lacks (but “must” have to warrant the time Christians give to it), or (3) instrumentalize it toward other, non-trivial ends.

Options 1 and 2 are dead ends. Option 3 is well-intended but, nine times out of ten, also a dead end.


Reading, cooking, gardening, playing a board game, building something with your hands, chatting with a neighbor, grabbing coffee with a friend, serving in a food pantry, learning a language, cleaning, sleeping, journaling, praying, sitting on your porch, resting, catching up with your spouse or housemate: every one of these things would be a qualitative improvement on streaming a show or movie (much less scrolling infinitely on Instagram or Twitter).

I think he is correct.  Movies and TV shows are occasionally formative in character, instructive, or useful for connecting with people.  But I suspect that, on the balance, their good is far outweighed by their corrupting influence and consistent use for normalizing immorality.  They are more stupefying than educational, more desensitizing than morally formative.

This doesn’t mean there’s not a place for them–some of them, that is.  But they’re not important.  There’s almost always a better use for our time.