Think Christian Publishes a New Pop Culture Primer

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Online cultural magazine, Think Christian, a publication of ReFrame Media, recently shifted format to focus more closely on theological explorations of pop culture topics, such as movies, music, video games, TV, and even graphic novels. Pop culture has become, in some ways, the common language of our time. To give readers a taste of TC’s unique approach, the ministry put out a new ebook, the “Pop Culture Primer,” that aims to help Christians consider what they watch, listen to, read, and play through the lens of their faith in Christ.

Josh Larsen, TC editor and author of Movies Are Prayers, put the Primer together. “Each essay presents a list of five recommended titles in each category, not necessarily because they’re ‘the best’ or even our favorites — most are not explicitly Christian — but because they resonate with Christianity in interesting ways. How do they reflect the gospel or our need of the gospel? How can we share the Good News through this aspect of the culture we live in?”

These ideas guide the “Pop Culture Primer.” Contributor Chad Ashby looks at five albums — including Weezer’s debut and Taylor Swift’s seminal 1989 — with the hope that readers “rediscover the pleasure and duty of listening” and in so doing, “hear evidence of the imago dei and the human condition all over these five LPs.” Allison Barron writes, “video games allow me to live through characters and stories in a way no other medium can,” and finds deeper meaning in-game experiences like Mass Effect and The Legend of Zelda. Other essays explore the peculiar medium of graphic novels and the sacred themes unfolding in serial television. And Melissa Tamminga shares perspective on five key films that “stand as rich objects of spiritual contemplation.”

Think Christian’s tagline is “no such thing as secular.” God’s sovereignty encompasses everything in creation, including pop culture. As Abraham Kuyper put it, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not cry: 'Mine!'” In the primer, TC recognizes that common grace enables both believers and unbelievers to create beautiful things, and that they either, in some way, reflect the goodness of our Creator or our absolute need for a Redeemer. “It’s not our purpose to ‘baptize’ popular culture,” explains Larsen. “Rather, we recognize that we sometimes see glimpses of God’s truth in unlikely places. We consider a movie, game, or album, for example, first on its own terms, and then ask how it might sit alongside the Christian faith.”

The “Pop Culture Primer” is available free to new subscribers to Think Christian. Current subscribers received the ebook in a special email.

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Community Builder

I've noticed Think Christian's recent shift to almost exclusively cover only pop media (e.g., popular singers, rappers, movies, videogames, etc), as if pop media equals the world.

I for one have been quite disappointed.  Certainly, pop media is part of the world but after this shift, Think Christian gives the impression that pop media is all there is to "think Christianly" about.  Indeed, while my adult SS class is called "Think Christian," and while I used to (for the last couple of years") use TC articles as class material, I no longer do, cuz I can't.  My SS class members (of a broad range of ages, occupations, etc) just aren't all that interested in an exclusive diet of pop artists, songs, videogames and movies.

Participant

Hi Doug, We're sorry to hear that Think Christian might not be as useful to your adult Sunday school class moving forward. And we agree that it is good to "think Christianly" about all of culture. However, since refocusing we've had an enthusiastic response from Christians who do engage regularly with popular culture (some even by way of the movie club at their CRC church!). These folks have been excited to find a denomination that does this in faithful, discerning community. So we're looking forward to the opportunity our focus offers us, both to be a place of discipleship when it comes to pop culture, and to bring a Reformed voice into some of the most vibrant cultural conversations taking place today. Hopefully we'll still be of use to your class from time to time! Josh Larsen (TC editor)