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Cultural Criticism

  1. Are You Blocking for Me, Jesus? by James T. Baker

    People create games and pass on through their games the rules and values and dreams of their real lives. Perhaps the real message of the Christian game is that as in every other age Christ is the one who exposes the violence and exploitation of our crassly commercial game of life and through his subsequent rejection by the powers-that-be dramatically illustrates his message of freedom to those who couldn’t see or hear it any other way.

  2. Changes in Attitude: the Lost World of the 1950s by James M. Wall

    The best response to the Religious Right is to acknowledge that it is correct in believing that secularism does not deserve to be our enforced national faith. But a fundamentalist and parochial Christianity is not the answer to our quest for a moral center.

  3. Is America In A Culture A War? Yes -- No -- Sort Of by Rhys H. Williams

    The author analyzes the cultural and symbolic aspects of our lives which are deep sources of political motivation.

  4. Paying Attention to Youth Culture by Charles R. Foster

    Fashion, entertainment and possessions are identity markers for the youth of our times. Churches need critical perspective on the influence of contemporary media and values of consumer capitalism. The authors of these three works document the pervasiveness of this consumer capitalism and media in defining young peoples' experiences.

  5. Piety, Commercialism, Activism: The Uses of Mother's Day by Leigh E. Schmidt

    The origin of Mother’s Day and its past, present, and future role in local churches.

  6. Playboy's Doctrine of Male by Harvey Cox

    It is precisely because these magazines are anti-sexual that they deserve the most searching kind of theological criticism. They foster a heretical doctrine of man, one at radical variance with the biblical view. For Playboy’s man, others—especially women—are for him. They are his leisure accessories, his playthings. For the Bible, man only becomes fully man by being for the other.

  7. Remembering the 50's by James M. Wall

    External graces seem to have guided young Dan Wakefield on his path from Indianapolis to a remarkably creative community in New York in the ‘50s.

  8. Reverence and the Freedom to Revise by James M. Wall

    Societies which cannot combine reverence for their symbols with freedom of revision must ultimately decay.

  9. Social Consciousness and World Maps by John P. Snyder

    The projection of the Peter’s map shows all parts of the world in proportion to their true areas, while the Mercator Projection greatly distorts relative areas so that Europe, the Soviet Union, Canada and Greenland are shown as far larger relative to South America and Africa than they really are. Much controversy has surfaced over Peter’s map.

  10. Speaking of Religion by James M. Wall

    Media coverage of religion is not biased against religious faith; it is biased in favor of Enlightenment rationality.

  11. The Church and Electronic Culture by Peter Horsfield

    In the late 20th Century, churches face a situation unprecedented since the Church's formation (comparable in magnitude to the era of the Christian apologists and the Reformation), in which most churches' thought and practice - and by implication God's revelation - are framed within and associated with communication and modes of thought of a past stage of cultural development. The author suggests implications for the church.

  12. The Cyborg: Technological Socialization and Its Link to the Religious Function of Popular Culture by Brenda E. Brasher

    Brasher observes that media technologies play a formative role in human socialization such that the term "cyborg" is an apt metaphor for contemporary humanity. For traditional religions, whose canonical texts emerged from pastoral and agricultural societies, the challenges this change in the locus of human identity brings with it are profound. Yet the `cyborgs’ who fail to connect with the meaning goods of traditional religions show scant sign of abandoning religion en masse. Instead, they are fashioning popular culture religions out of the ingredients of their hyper-mediated environment. Brasher concludes the article with an examination of the insights and dangers that these emerging popular culture theologies present.

  13. The Free Play of Thought by Robert Allen Warrior

    Society needs criticism that aspires to transcend immediate practical and political considerations. But today the rule "No conflict, no news" governs cultural criticism.

  14. The Need to Remember by Robert McAfee Brown

    The story reviewed here is about the repudiating of vengeance. It is about matters of mystery, death, disorientation, incongruity, and the importance of a name.

  15. The Pictures Inside Our Heads by James M. Wall

    The Christian knows that the dichotomy between "truth" as a linear narrative and "truth" as shaped by images and the "pictures inside our heads" must be bridged.

  16. The Power of Myth: Lessons from Joseph Campbell by Belden C. Lane

    Starting from the proposition that the whole history of Western culture can be seen as a history of demythologization, Lane reviews Joseph Campbell’s espousal of what could be called a remythologization of culture. While critical of Western theology for its neglect of myth, Campbell’s irenic spirit encourages theologians to treasure their metaphors, their poetry, their universal stories.

  17. The Religious Music Without the Words by James M. Wall

    Protestant cultural dominance has given way to a bland secular voice that offends no one but also fails to provide a religious worldview to help shape public discourse.

  18. The Romantic Appeal of Joseph Campbell by Robert Segal

    Campbell’s appeal derives from the unashamed romanticism of his theory of myth. His message is far more mystical than individualistic.

  19. The Super Bowl as Religious Festival by Joseph L. Price

    There is a remarkable sense in which the Super Bowl functions as a major religious festival for American culture, for the event signals a convergence of sports, politics and myth. Like festivals in ancient societies, which made no distinctions regarding the religious, political and sporting character of certain events, the Super Bowl succeeds in reuniting these now disparate dimensions of social life.

  20. The Superbowl Culture of Male Violence by Eugene C. Bianchi

    There is a close relationship between violence and sexism in our culture, as lived out in family life, the world of sports, and the economic and political scene.

  21. The Theology of Pac-Man by John Robert McFarland

    Pac-Man is based on the biblical narrative, its story the same one Jesus told in a different way. Pac-Man is existence, captured in the bleeps and blips of the electronic board. It is, in short, life as we hear it in the Judeo-Christian tradition  It is the most thoroughly theological of all the video games.

  22. Willimon’s Project: Does It make Sense? by William L. Sachs

    In opposing historic assumptions about mainstream Christianity, Willimon may be kicking an already comatose form of Christianity.

  23. Zeal Without Understanding: Reflections on Rambo and Oliver North by Robert Jewett

    Patriotism of the type popularized by the fictional John Rambo and the real-life Ollie North is gravely threatening to a constitution democracy. What is required now in our society is to combine zeal with understanding, a process that calls for discussion, argument, debate and clarification.