Friday, August 24, 2007

Cultural Friday Five

This week's theme comes courtesy of Sally. This week, it's another simple list, where we consider popular culture, and examples of media which have helped or challenged us in our spiritual journey.
  1. Book
    Hero With a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell. The connection between Prometheus and the story of Jesus may seem obvious, but it was new to me when I read this book between junior and senior year of high school.
       It forced me to confront what I now consider a fundamental question — whether a given "myth" fits my life. Ultimately, with life experience, I recognized the death and resurrection story has resonance for my life. I also realised the reality of brokenness and the need for healing — sometimes called salvation.

  2. Piece of music
    Gorécki's "Symphony no. 3" - also known as the Symphony of Sorrowful Songs. For me, it defines the phrase "joyful sorrow"; it is simply heart-breaking.
       Prior to hearing that, the piece I would name would have been Pachelbel's famous canon. The future Dr. Omed introduced me to this piece of music, describing it as "the sound of salvation". Seems an apt description to me; he played a recording of a slide guitar version which I still count as definitive.

  3. Work of art
    Seeing Picasso's Guernica in person was a profound experience. I can't describe how it may have affected my spiritual journey. Simply enriching.

  4. Film
    Passion of the Christ. A wise person once said we can learn much from people we disagree with; it can help us clarify our position. This movie clarified my distaste for "sacrificial lamb" theology. It also clarified my distaste for what Entertainment Weekly calls "torture porn" - Passion is one example; Saw, and its immitators is another.

  5. Unusual engagement with popular culture
    Two examples come to mind: one is the movie Liar, Liar, with Jim Carey; the other is the Simpson's episode in which Bart sells his soul.
        I was surprised how each, in its way, extolled "traditional values" in ways we might not expect in popular media. Liar², for example, assumed the audience would agree lying was a bad thing. In the Simpson's episode, Bart is definitely dimished by the loss of his soul: he has no reflection, his dog doesn't recognize him, and so on.

    Bonus: Is engagement essential to your Christian faith, how and why?
    Yes. As my answers to 4 and 5 make clear, I like to consider what message might underlie different forms of popular media.
        Movies, and so on, are our popular myths. This is the language of the people; it may not exactly reflect the zeitgeist, but it gives us some clear clues.


Deb said...

Hadn't thought of Liar2 but you are right - it gives an interesting moral perspective that most movies do not! :) If you haven't seen Ratatouille, you might like its message, too...


Commentator said...

Related to #2 on your list: please see a 1985 Russian film clip set to the haunting elegy of Symphony No. 3, Op. 36.