1. Julie D says:

    I think it was C.S. Lewis who said that you have to have love a thing (or loved it once) if you are to warn against it. Otherwise it’s like misers warning against overspending. And I see this guideline violated all the time in Christian critiques of scifi/geekdom. Otherwise, you end up warning people against things for the very reasons people are drawn to them.
    A really stupid example: A vegan is saying, “Don’t go to Texas Roadhouse, they serve lots and lots of meat”
    And someone else goes “Duh, that’s why I go there!”

    • Ah yes, one of my favorite Lewis quotes. Here it is: “Many reviews are useless because, while purporting to condemn the book, they only reveal the reviewer’s dislike of the kind to which it belongs. Let bad tragedies be censured by those who love tragedy, and bad detective stories by those who love the detective story. Then we shall learn their real faults. Otherwise we shall find epics blamed for not being novels, farces for not being high comedies… Who wants to hear a particular claret abused by a fanatical teetotaler, or a particular woman by a confirmed misogynist?”

    • I wish I’d used this quote.

      On a less meaningful note, this quote also explains some of the harsher reviews of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

    • Travis Perry says:

      I suppose then when I warn about the dangers of Speculative Fiction (which I do at times, because I think unhealthy messages are not uncommon and we need to confront them) I would then qualify as being able to speak about this topic, according to Lewis. Because I do love Speculative Fiction.

    • Jennifer Busick says:

      That was my first thought — I just read that essay. It’s in a wonderful book of Lewis’s essays, On Science Fiction, that I’m using in a class I’m teaching right now.

  2. Travis Perry says:

    Stephen, I don’t know if the call to redeem culture is something I actually agree with…I mean, sure, we should attempt to do that, but I think the view of the New Testament is that the world is an ally of Satan and that we will never entirely be at home in the world (John 16:33–in the world you will have tribulation, etc). In other words, I do not agree culture is entirely redeemable.

    But even if I did agree that a command to redeem culture exists, I am not sure how that would effect pastors. When they speak out against what they perceive to be sin, who is supposed to do that then, if not pastors? I mean, let’s say I as a pastor am concerned about something illegal, like illegal drug abuse. Do I really have to participate in it to condemn it? Obviously not, right? Nobody would think that about drug abuse–though a pastor who had been a former drug addict would obviously have a lot more authority on the topic than one who had never touched drugs.

    So…I don’t know. Yeah…I see the point of this post to a degree and would agree it is far too easy to attack something you don’t have any interest in yourself. But shouldn’t pastors at least attempt to provide moral guidance even on topics they are not particularly engaged in personally? Isn’t that their job? I mean, at least partially?

    • Previously, I might have agreed with Christians who say, “yes, we need to redeem culture, and that’s part of the Gospel mission in the world.” Now I’m not so sure, and this is not just because of the reasons you gave, but because of a few others.

      First, though Christians disagree on how much power Satan has, this world is still corrupt. Jesus is invading to take back His creation, but that’s not done yet.

      Second, God has not surrendered His original idea of culture-making and things like being fruitful and multiplying over the earth. In fact, I would put both family-having and culture-making (which includes popular culture) in the same category, because God commands them both in the single passage of Genesis 1:26-28. Thus, we should still try to marry, have children, and spread our families. We should also still try to uphold the cultural mandate in our world. But we’re going to be limited because this world is still groaning under the travails of sin and suffering.

      Third, it’s Jesus who will redeem His creation and thus human culture-making. But that’s future, with only some hints of it in the present. So I believe creation and culture will be redeemed–but not by us. We can only hint at what His future redemption will be like, as we’re proclaiming and living out the Gospel.

      As for what this means for pastors, I don’t mean to say that I think they need to watch a particular show, or even (technically) to participate in fandoms or even popular culture altogether. But: they must know the biblical purpose of what they’re talking about, in this case, the biblical purpose of human culture-making (which includes popular culture). And they must do something to demonstrate that they’ve actually given this some thought. E.g., Christian leaders need to try to show our work, without just giving the same answers people have already heard without support (and leaving an opening for people to assume pastors secretly dislike anything that isn’t a sermon or other churchy thing anyway).

      But after that–and in response to Audie‘s comment as well–I think pastors ought to condemn Game of Thrones. Because it does have porn in it. And for most of the population, porn causes people to sin (and it did already cause the producers and actors and editors and artists to sin).

  3. Audie says:

    I’m not sure I understand what this article is meant to say. Let me try to explain why.

    There is a certain argumentative tactic that is far too often used. I’m not sure if it has a name or label, but a good example of it would be, “You’re a man, you can’t have an opinion about abortion or what a woman can do with her body, because those issues don’t affect you!”

    In reading this article, it simply seems like a similar argument is being made, and I hope I’m misunderstanding whatever the point may be. But the point seems to be that, even if Mr. DeYoung is right in what he has said bout GoT, he is somehow disqualified from saying it because he has not checked off certain previously unknown qualifications. He has not, for example, given us his view of pop culture as a whole, he has not shown whatever we might consider proper respect for pop culture to be, or whatever other unvoiced boxes we think someone must check off in order to be qualified in our minds to have a valid opinion.

    But how is this a valid argument against DeYoung, or anyone else?

    I have not watched an episode of GoT, and have little desire to, though I did read the first book in the series a few years ago. But I do remember the time some friends I had a few years ago showed me the first episode of TruBlood. I found it something I had no desire to see even that one time, let alone again, or to continue the series, and one reason was because it had at least one fairly graphic sex scene in it.

    If GoT is as bad or worse than TruBlood, then I am grateful that someone like DeYoung is warning against it. The truth of what he says is not decreased or increased if he likes or doesn’t like fantasy literature, dragons, or anything else only marginally important to the topic of GoT.

    • In short I agree with DeYoung’s conclusions. By all accurate accounts, “Game of Thrones” has porn in it. So almost no one should be watching that stuff.

      So DeYoung is right. So are other Christian leaders who condemn this series.

      Where I disagree is that they have not shown their work. It’s not that they have not proved they are fantasy geeks, or proved they’ve seen “Game of Thrones” or read the books. It’s that they’ve not shown any interest in exploring what popular culture is meant to do in the first place. They just assume we all know (or assume that we’ll share some of their assumptions that it’s all a waste of time and eternally insignificant anyway).

      Then, no wonder people start getting irritated and defensive (even about their wrong choices). Then people start saying things like “nudity is okay if it drives the story” or “but it’s Art and All That,” and the pastor/Christian leader does not even try to follow people onto that ground. Thus the rebuttal stands, and repeating the same (truthful) claim that God calls us to holiness doesn’t go anywhere. Here, the Christian leader, if he broaches the topic at all, must do his homework. He must show that he understands the purpose of culture, which includes art and stories, and can therefore say “no, the story jolly well does not require nudity,” or “this over here is the purpose of art and culture in God’s scheme of things, not man’s, and now that we’ve summarized this, how do other assumptions compare?”

      • Sorry man, I don’t agree that it’s necessary to show that. As much as I wish every pastor DID understand the point of art, and worked to lift artists up in their work, I just don’t believe it’s necessary, nor do I believe it’s how God’s called us to behave.

        I don’t believe everyone who is called to tear down the wrongful use of art is also called to promote art. What matters is that they’re tearing down what actually needs to be torn down.

        Sometimes you hire a demo crew to tear the house down, then another team to build it back up.

    • Galadriel says:

      Stephen says this much better than I–no, I don’t have to be a drunkard to warn about alcoholism, but my warnings won’t be as strong or accurate as someone who has struggled with it.

What do you think?