Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Times They Are a Changin'...

1959 Academy Award Winning Song:
High Hopes, sung by Frank Sinatra

Writer: Cahn/Van Heusen

Next time you're found, with your chin on the ground
There's a lot to be learned, so look around

Just what makes that little old ant
Think he'll move that rubber tree plant
Anyone knows an ant can't
Move a rubber tree plant

But he's got high hopes, he's got high hopes
He's got high apple pie, in the sky hopes

So any time your gettin low
'stead of lettin go
Just remember that ant
Oops there goes another rubber tree plant

When troubles call, and your back's to the wall
There's a lot to be learned, that wall could fall

Once there was a silly old ram
Thought he'd punch a hole in a dam
No one could make that ram, scram
He kept buttin' that dam

Cause he had high hopes, he had high hopes
He had high apple pie, in the sky hopes

So any time your feelin' bad
'stead of feelin' sad
Just remember that ram
Oops there goes a billion kilowatt dam

All problems just a toy balloon
They'll be bursted soon
They're just bound to go pop
Oops there goes another problem kerplop

(lyrics from lyricsfreak.com)

2005 Academy Award Winning Song:
It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp, by Djay f/Shug

You know it's hard out here for a pimp (you ain't knowin)
When he tryin to get this money for the rent (you ain't knowin)
For the Cadillacs and gas money spent (you ain't knowin)
Because a whole lot of xxxxxxx talkin xxxxxxxxx (you ain't knowin)
Will have a whole lot of xxxxxxxxxx talkin xxxxxxx (you ain't knowin)

In my eyes I done seen some crazy thangs in the streets
Gotta couple xxxxxxx workin on the changes for me
But I gotta keep my game tight like Kobe on game night
Like takin from a xxxxxxxx don't know no better, I know that ain't right
Done seen people killed, done seen people deal
Done seen people live in poverty with no meals
It's xxxxxxxxxxx where I live, but that's just how it is
It might be new to you, but it's been like this for years
It's blood sweat and tears when it come down to this xxxxxxx
I'm tryin to get rich 'fore I leave up out this xxxxxxxx
I'm tryin to have thangs but it's hard fo' a pimp
But I'm prayin and I'm hopin to God I don't slip, yeah


Man it seems like I'm duckin dodgin bullets everyday
xxxxxxx hatin on me cause I got, xxxxxx on the tray
But I gotta stay paid, gotta stay above water
Couldn't keep up with my xxxxxxx, that's when xxxxxx got harder
North Memphis where I'm from, I'm 7th Street bound
Where xxxxxxx all the time end up lost and never found
Man these girls think we prove thangs, leave a big xxxxxx
They come hopin every night, they don't end up bein dead
Wait I got a xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
You xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
That's the way the game goes, gotta keep it strictly pimpin
Gotta have my hustle tight, makin change off these women, yeah

(lyrics from smartlyrics.com)

Question: How do Christians navigate culture today? Should we run from it? Or, should we engage it?

Comments sought...

(1950's pic by Noktulo; Guy in green by Dizz. See flickr.com for restrictions on use.)


Sarah Bragg said...

I don't think that we should run from culture. Don't get me wrong. Culture can affect us. I struggled with eating disorders and body image issues for more than 10 years. Part of the fuel behind my struggle was comparing myself to a standard of beauty our culture has set.

Christians tend to separate themselves from our culture. Culture is not the problem. The problem lies in what people do with culture. I think that we should look at our culture like any other culture. If I moved to Africa to be a missionary, I would immerse myself in the culture. I would learn the language and the different facets of the culture so that I could more adequately minister to those people. I think the same is true with our American culture. We need to learn the culture and not separate ourselves from it so that we can more adequately minister to our people.

I greatly admire people like the band Switchfoot. They are Christian guys who are in the secular music industry. They aren't there to necessarily witness to the audience, but influence the other musicians in the industry. We need more influencial people like that in our culture.

Again, people can misuse aspects of our culture, but we must learn to not become so separated that we lose our effectiveness to minister.

Thanks for reading!
Sarah Bragg

Author of "Body. Beauty. Boys."

Kelly Dykstra said...

I'm with Sarah. Dig in and make a difference.

Sarah Onderdonk said...

My favorite part of the football game is when the credits roll… but here goes a sports analogy…

It’s as if you require both offense and defense on game day. You need offense (to proactively go after the lost) and you need defense (to avoid going down with the lost). There’s a tension, I think, between the two that needs to guarded as Christians navigate tough terrain in the postmodern world.

Sarah and Kelly… your position is clearly supported by scripture. .

Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,"

Matthew 28:18-19

The Great Commission is all about lacing up our boots and moving out. We need look no further than the model of Jesus, Himself, Who fully engaged within the cultural framework of the day.

There are verses that suggest “how” Christians are to operate:

"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
Matthew 5: 14-16

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,

1 Peter 3: 15

As Christians, we are called to be different… to shine the light of Christ within us. And we can’t do this if we are hidden away, can we.

Still, there is the very real issue of how we move within the world without being poisoned and devoured by it.

I remember a sermon once in which someone related the bad images we take in to pictures in an art galley. Those images… whatever they
are… never go away once they’re put there.

How does scripture guide us here?

Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

1 Peter 2: 11-12

Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.

1 Corinthians 15: 58

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.

1 Corinthians 16: 13

The Bible encourages us to be strong in our faith and to be on “guard.” It’s a picture of being present and sensitive and actionable… in Christ… without allowing our hearts to be stained by evil elements of the world.

In an attempt to better understand culture, I took my car radio station off KLTY (Christian station) for a few weeks last year when I was driving without the kids. I re-discovered the secular music scene... a place I hadn’t been for years. While I was pleasantly surprised by some fresh and creative new music, I was saddened by the harsh and truly dark nature of some lyrics. When I listened to this music… when I processed it… it became part of my own “art gallery”… and there's the potential, if unchecked, for contemporary music (and movies, theater, art, etc.) to prompt us to drift from what is pure, lovely and admirable.

Staying anchored to Christ through prayer, confession of sin, and the study of His word are basic and critical.

I'm wondering if there are any other tips of a practical nature to help Christians stay "current" without compromising our hearts and minds?

Sarah Onderdonk said...

Sarah... your book sounds very interesting. Maybe you'd like to come back and share some of your insights with us.


Anonymous said...

T said...
In college, I had a poster on my wall (always a source of great wisdom)... that read "A ship in a harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are for." I think we need to consider ourselves, as Christians, God's vessels to reach ports of call in the culture.

That doesn't mean we head for stormy waters at every chance. We still want safe passage, but we must recognize that if we leave port, we will encounter threats to our security, our peace, our tranquility. We must be on our guard, stand firm in the faith. And we must act like men, be strong (1 cor 16:13). Our challenge is to be true to our identity in Christ in all circumstances.

My karate teacher reminds us that we can get hit two ways... intentionally and unintentionally... and that both can hurt. In a way, I make the same analogy to my daily walk... whether I am intentional or not, I am in fact engaged in the culture to some extent. And by my example, I intentionally and unintentionally influence those around me. I expect we'd be amazed at the potential impact of the unintentional influence we have on others that we never truly see.

Sarah Onderdonk said...

todd... whoa! that is, well, quite thought provoking...