Advertisements
RSS Feed

Tag Archives: pop culture

Rock Gets Religion

Alice Cooper wrote the forward to a new book entitled Rock Gets Religion by Mark Joseph.  Cooper who quit drinking and drugs after finding God talks about altering the content of his lyrics since his conversion.  This project examines the battle for the soul of secular music, called the Devil’s music when the church demonized pop culture in the 1950 and sixties.  When talented musicians like Keith Green were rejected by mainstream music companies, contemporary Christian music began.

You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God, James 4:4.

This new industry used passages from the Bible like the verse above to justify this decision.  While this rationale makes sense, Jesus encouraged his disciples to live in the world, but not follow their standards.  Thus, this separation from society like the Amish didn’t engage the world.  Instead of shining light into the darkness of life, Christians artists were preaching to the choir, having little impact on the rest of the world for several decades.

I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one, John 17:15.

After nearly 4 decades of separation, Mark Joseph writes about how the influence of American Idol is reversing this trend.  Instead of being rejected by music executives, average Americans are deciding who advances on these reality shows.  As talented Christian artists are being discovered, more and more are choosing to appeal to a secular audience.  Subsequently, groups like Reliant K, Stellar Kart and Thousand Foot Krutch are adding a spiritual flavor to rock and roll.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Advertisements

All is Not Lost

Classic movies tend to provide quotable lines which become part of pop culture.  Although some get more attention, one that comes to mind often goes unnoticed.  In Animal House, Kevin Bacon play Chip Diller who plays a character similar to a ROTC college student.  During a parade high-jacked by Delta Tau Chi who were recently kicked out of school, Chip tries to maintain a panicking crowd.  As people begin to run down the sidewalk, Diller cries out, “all is well, remain calm.”  Unfortunately, Chip goes trampled as his words got drown out by fear.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! – Psalm 37:7

If you turn on cable news or talk radio, not much has changed.  It’s almost as if networks seek to scare people, trying to out do competitors.  This ambulance chasing mentality will continue until the public stop listening, watching and get news in some other manner.  In fact, the times I tune out the world and other outside distractions, I feel great and tend to hear God’s calling much clearer.  Therefore, all is not lost, especially when you slow down to be still before the Lord.

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him, Psalm 62:5.

When I lived in Chicago back in the mid 1990’s, I attend Willow Creek Community Church, just down the road from our apartment.  Pastor Bill Hybels spoke about the importance of finding a quiet place each summer to spend time with God.  The Psalmist above provides a similar message.  Despite any silence you might experience, waiting for God’s presence either through prayer or reading the Bible sparks spiritual growth.  Sure, everyone has their days, weeks and months in the dark.  Yet, in the stillness of the night, the Holy Spirit still speaks truth to convince individuals that all is not lost.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Seinfeld Effect

In the final episode of Seinfeld, Jerry, Elaine and George witness a car jacking.  Instead of helping, the three of them begin to crack jokes as Kramer takes out his camcorder to film this crime.  After the victim gives his report of what happened to a police officer, the entire Seinfeld crew gets arrested, tried and sentenced to jail for a year for failing to act as a good Samaritan.

A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side, Luke 10:31.

Unfortunately, this comedy has filtered into our culture, influencing how a younger generation acts, behaves and treats one another.  This Seinfeld Effect played a part in the recent killing of Amy Inita Joyner-Francis, a 16 year old student at Howard Vocational High School in Delaware.  When a fight broke out in a girl’s bathroom, instead of intervening, other girls took out their phones to take pictures and videos.  Before a good Samaritan arrived, it was too late for Amy.

So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.  But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him, Luke 10:32-33.

During my last few years as a teacher, Summit Ministries was on the cutting edge of societal evolution, providing great resources to address growing needs.  At one of the last conferences I attended, the key note speaker spoke about how art imitates life.  Yet, over time life imitates art.  In the case of today’s culture, the Seinfeld Effect has swayed youth into passive, self-centered individuals.  Subsequently, many are amusing themselves to death, numbing souls from becoming the children God wants us to be.  May God awaken those distracted by an immoral world.

by Jay Mankus

 

Teetotalism in Religion

As dictionaries are updated annually, important words from history are fading from the forefront.  Instead, slang, tech terms and pop culture is redefining societies vocabulary.  One of these obsolete words is teetotalism, a stringent form of following the rules.  Islam or Muslims  is one of the few faiths which practice teetotalism in adherence to the 5 pillars.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,” Matthew 11:28.

In his classic book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis addresses teetotalism in a chapter called The Cardinal Virtues, values that anyone can possess.  Lewis suggests that initially, teetotalism was a form of temperance, going the right distance and no further.  Like anything in life, context, time and understanding alter the meaning of words.  Thus, teetotalism in the context of religion is merely knowing the boundaries between the right and wrong and failing to cross over this line.

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls, Matthew 11:29.

However, when faith is limited to an adherence to rules, meaning can be lost like Pharisees who strayed from God’s commands.  Rather, Jesus doesn’t care what you wear to church on Sunday; only that you come as you are, ditching the facade the fake put on.  Once souls reach the understanding that you can’t do it on your own, Romans 6:23, spiritual hunger is conceived.  Free will enables hearts to wait until they are ready.  When this day arrives, believers won’t have to rely on teetotalism anymore.  Instead, a desire for biblical truth will prompt individuals to pray, read the Bible and worship the Lord 7 days a week.

by Jay Mankus

 

Taking A Back Seat To Your Children

In my younger days, naive and immature, I cared more about my men’s softball team than my oldest son’s T-Ball game.  Thus, as other men were coaching and influencing my son James, I got lost in trying to relive and hold on to my youth.  Learning the hard way, I realized Father Time couldn’t be beaten before I took a back seat where my children could be in the forefront.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, Philippians 2:3.

Unfortunately, too many young men never see the light, blinded by selfish ambition.  Fueled by pride, egos cause adults to remain the center of attention, long after their own high school graduation.  While hanging out in bars reminiscing about the Glory Days, far too many children are growing up without a role model to emulate.  Subsequently, teenagers often look toward pop culture to find meaning in life, only to be disappointed in the long run.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full, John 10:10.

After hearing the phrase “its better to give than receive” countless times throughout life, I finally tasted a piece of this fruit over the weekend.  As a proud parent on Sunday, watching my children all place in the top 3 of their age group, with James earning first, 11th overall, in the 2015 Blue Hen 5K, I realized all those times I went jogging with my kids finally paid off.  Although I was the only one in the family who didn’t medal, it didn’t matter.  I found joy in taking a back seat to my children, observing each one begin to find their niche, place and calling in life.  If you haven’t taken your seat, find one soon.

by Jay Mankus

 

Pumping Iron: A Spiritual Guide to Working Out

The addition of Hans and Franz to State Farm’s Discount Double Check slogan has infused life into this ad campaign.  Known for their saying on SNL, “I want to pump you up,” Hans and Franz played by Dana Carvey and Kevin Nealson have become icons in today’s pop culture.  However, long before these two were ever born, another writer crafted a spiritual blueprint for pumping iron.

Your commands are always with me and make me wiser than my enemies. – Psalm 119:98

The warm up to working out spiritually begins with the commands inside of the Bible.  When you read, reflect and mediate on God’s principles, you are exercising your mind.  Subsequently, over time, through a daily workout routine, you can become wiser than your enemies if you commit to spending time in God’s gym, the Word.

I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes. – Psalm 119:99

Following this warm up, an extensive study using commentaries, historical references and examining the meaning of Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic phrases is like pumping iron.  Not like something that happens overnight, this discipline takes time to develop.  However, if you are faithful, spiritual muscles will blossom in the form of insight, becoming equal to and perhaps surpassing your teachers in life.

I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts. – Psalm 119:100.

Finally, the cool down requires practicing what you learn daily, Matthew 7:24.  Unless you apply God’s Word, spiritual muscles will disappear into a fat and lazy soul.  Therefore, if you want to become the Hans and Franz of the Bible, obey the Lord’s precepts and in God’s timing, you will have more understanding than the elders.  God is waiting to pump you up; the only question is, are you willing to make the Lord a priority to see the results you desire, Matthew 6:33-34?

by Jay Mankus

To Infinite and Beyond

Buzz Lightyear was introduced into pop culture in 1995, the star in Disney’s Animation Toy Story.  Like every great figure, Buzz’s catch phrase “to infinity and beyond,” endeared Americans to this small yet larger than life character.  The Toy Story series of films has grossed 1.9 billion dollars worldwide, giving a green meaning to infinite and beyond.

If Jesus arrived on the scene for the first time today, He might reference Buzz Lightyear  in a modern day parable.  With an emphasis toward low information voters, Jesus has a record of meeting people where they are, attracted by pop culture.  Subsequently, Jesus might begin with Hollywood to gain the attention and interest of listeners.  However, like a flip of the switch, Jesus weaves biblical truth into every story, pointing lost sheep toward eternity.

The One whom Jesus loved was privileged to private access, greater than even Peter.  Beyond his own gospel, this disciple added 3 additional letters filled with elements of his conversations with the Lord.  Perhaps the most revealing is found in 1 John 5:13.  If you hope to experience infinite and beyond, this passage provides the assurance you need.  When you add Romans 10:9-10 to this equation, you can boldly proclaim like Buzz Lightyear, heaven is a prayer away from of a world where infinite is beyond human comprehension.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

%d bloggers like this: