WHI-1285 | Jesus in Pop Culture

Sunday, 22 Nov 2015

Joining the hosts on this edition of the White Horse Inn are David Zahl of Mockingbird Ministries, and James Gilmore, co-author of Authenticity and The Experience Economy. We are continuing our focus on the Jesus portrayed in popular culture. What are they saying about Jesus in today’s music, movies, and television? Who is the Hipster Jesus, and how does he differ from the Macho Jesus? More importantly, how are these popular expressions of Jesus different from the real Jesus?

Who do you say Jesus is? Just as Jesus asked this question of his disciples in his own day, so too does he confront us in his Word concerning his person and work. Join us for this special edition of the White Horse Inn as we seek the real Jesus in this culture of noise.

“When Jesus is portrayed as superman, it really takes away from the fact that, first of all, he’s God. It’s not that he has super human powers. And secondly, he laid aside his prerogative to use that divine power and in weakness made himself of no reputation to bear our sins.
“Much of this is just consumerism, where we are looking for products that we can use for our own life projects and Jesus just happens to be one of the products that you can find on the aisle.”
– Michael Horton
Consumer Culture
Consumerism is a social and economic order and ideology that encourages the acquisition of goods and services in ever-increasing amounts. A consumer culture can broadly be defined as a culture where social status, values, and activities are centered on the consumption of goods, services, and experiences. A large part of what you do, what you value and how you are defined revolves around consumption. Some theorists have regarded consumer culture as oppressive and manipulative, and some argue that it is a model of “consumer sovereignty.”
After World War II, consumer spending no longer meant satisfying an indulgent material desire. The American consumer was praised as a patriotic citizen in the 1950s, as someone contributing to the ultimate success of the American way of life. “The good purchaser devoted to ‘more, newer and better’ was the good citizen,” historian Lizabeth Cohen wrote, “since economic recovery after a decade and a half of depression and war depended on a dynamic mass consumption economy.”
Historian Elaine Tyler May argues that the new consumerism was a way to deemphasizing class differences while stressing traditional gender roles. The federal government and the American people saw that what had become defined as “the good life” was now within economic reach. For the working-class people could achieve the upward mobility they craved.
Consumerism has become one of the dominant global social forces that seeks a life of uninhibited consumption of goods, services, and experiences with almost total disregard for the global effects of such lifestyles. It is the pursuit of a good life narrated and marketed to through such practices which has cut across natural differences of religion, gender, class, ethnicity, and nationality. It is central to what Manfred Steger calls the new ‘global imaginary.’ This market driven vision of life has seeped into all aspects of life, turning even rebellion against the status quo into a new market niche ready for branding and consumption, wedding itself to the politics of uninhibited desire.
(Adapted from Lizabeth Cohen, A Consumer’s Republic, p. 119; James, Paul; Szeman, and Imre Globalization and Culture, Vol. 3: “Global-Local Consumption,” p. x; and “Consumerism” from the Britannica Concise Encyclopedia [2008])

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