Lutheran Satirist and pastor Hans Fiene recently wrote an article for The Federalist noting that our culture is not very good at creating things. Like the brown-headed cowbird, he argues, we would rather borrow cultural artifacts and assign conflicted meanings to them than do the hard work of building cultural artifacts from our own values and imaginations.
There are lots of fun historical discussions to be had on this point. One needs only look to the history of Protestant liberalism: what institution did Protestant liberalism ever build? Of particular interest for our purpose, however, is his indictment of Christian culture on this matter. Rather than seeking to draw on the great cultural achievements of our forebears, we ape the empty spasms of popular culture, hoping that such timeless forms as cartoons, football movies, and rap can carry the message once borne by fresco, epic, and fugue.
One of the illustrations he gives is very helpful. He cites a conversation he had in college where a fellow student asked him whether he liked Creed, a band popular at that time. He said that he did not, citing the fact that they weren’t very good. His fellow student said something along the lines of “yes, but they sing about Christian themes,” indicating that one’s first loyalty is to the themes, rather than to the apt expression of those themes. Perhaps it says something about contemporary Christian values that we’re fiercely loyal to bad art simply because it’s the best we can do.
Read the whole article here:
You can also listen to Fiene say “things of that nature” repeatedly in an interview he gave regarding his article.