A Matrix of Meanings: Finding God in Popular Culture

By Yarri, Donna | Ethics & Medicine, Spring 2012 | Go to article overview

A Matrix of Meanings: Finding God in Popular Culture


Yarri, Donna, Ethics & Medicine


A Matrix of Meanings: Finding God in Popular Culture Craig Detweiler and Barry Taylor. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2003 (fourth printing 2007; Engaging Culture Series). ISBN 978-0-8010-2417; 351 PAGES, PAPER, $28.00

The thesis of this book is that popular culture is a phenomenon that often demonstrates evidence of spiritual yearning, and it is thereby important for Christian theology to engage with it. The authors express a sincere appreciation for popular culture as a common language that can ultimately impact our theology. In this volume, they explore different forms of popular culture with an attempt to both describe it and explain its relationship to Christian theology. The function of advertising is to foster a particular worldview that emphasizes consumerism. Our current obsession with celebrities rather than heroes has resulted in the creation of the "movie star." Popular music is often used to convey spiritual ideas. Movies address many religious themes that are not always recognized by reviewers. Television is considered a burgeoning art form that reveals our deepest longings as humans through various genres. Fashion is not only a representation of our identity, but our current emphasis contains almost a sacramental element. Sports have often been associated with the phenomenon of religion, though the younger generation prefers being active in sports rather than being mere spectators. Art - and in particular the art of Picasso, Jason Pollack, and Andy Warhol - emphasizes the relationship between the sacred and the secular. Finally, the authors argue for what they call a "top ten" and "bottom up" theology which takes "the charts" seriously, understanding that God can speak through popular culture and that theology should therefore take seriously its theological expressions and insights.

This book is truly a delightful read.

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