Popular culture is transitory. Popular culture is disposable, made to be thrown away after use. The man who gets a Lady Gaga tattoo today will loathe his decision tomorrow. Beanie Babies were all the rage 10 years ago. Now, you can’t give them away at a garage sale.
What should be the Christian response to “pop” culture? In many cases it has been that of imitation. Name a genre of popular music and there will be found a Christian band emulating it. When there have been efforts made to present an Evangelical approach to art or music the result has often been cheesy and poorly done.
The Church is the new humanity. We are the new and true culture makers. It is high time we seized upon our God-given vocation to remake the world. We must no longer play the role of copy cat to the world. We can do better. What will that look like? Well, it seems that the fundamental notion of “popular culture” is at odds with a Christian view of history, of culture, and of the value of creation. Popular culture despises things that endure (except perhaps for your local “oldies” radio station). The church, on the other hand, is rooted in history and founded upon the ancient faith, once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3). The culture we produce and the cultural artifacts we make must therefore be of a very different character and quality than those made by the world, which is passing away. Not every piece of music, or oil painting, or poem will be of a high enough quality to transcend the moment and enter into the Christian culture that will pass on from generation to generation. But to produce such works must be the object of every Christian artist.
Where will we find the new Bach, the new Shakespeare, the new Milton, or the new Rembrandt, men whose names and works are still prized among us? Is it not possible they are among our children right now? It falls to us to open to them a glorious hope, that their efforts in the arts today might be used of God to produce a culture that will last a millennium.