Christian pop culture

Christian pop culture

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Christian pop culture is the vernacular
Vernacular
A vernacular is the native language or native dialect of a specific population, as opposed to a language of wider communication that is not native to the population, such as a national language or lingua franca.- Etymology :The term is not a recent one...

 Christian culture
Culture
Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

 that prevails in any given society
Society
A society, or a human society, is a group of people related to each other through persistent relations, or a large social grouping sharing the same geographical or virtual territory, subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations...

. The content of popular culture is determined by the daily interactions, needs and desires, and cultural 'movements' that make up everyday lives of Christians. It can include any number of practices, including those pertaining to cooking, clothing, mass media and the many facets of entertainment
Entertainment
Entertainment consists of any activity which provides a diversion or permits people to amuse themselves in their leisure time. Entertainment is generally passive, such as watching opera or a movie. Active forms of amusement, such as sports, are more often considered to be recreation...

 such as sports and literature
Literature
Literature is the art of written works, and is not bound to published sources...

.

Culture, as a way of defining one's self, needs to attract people's interest and persuade them to invest a part of themselves in it. People like to feel a part of a tribe and understand their identity within that tribe. This works well in small communities and people feel needed and special in their small world. Mass culture however lets people define themselves in relation to everybody else in mass society. In a sense it 'makes the ball park a lot bigger' and we have to fight harder to find and keep our identity.

Definitions


In modern urban mass societies, Christian pop culture has been crucially shaped by the development of industrial mass production
Mass production
Mass production is the production of large amounts of standardized products, including and especially on assembly lines...

, the introduction of new technologies of sound and image broadcasting and recording, and the growth of mass media
Mass media
Mass media refers collectively to all media technologies which are intended to reach a large audience via mass communication. Broadcast media transmit their information electronically and comprise of television, film and radio, movies, CDs, DVDs and some other gadgets like cameras or video consoles...

 industries—the film
Film
A film, also called a movie or motion picture, is a series of still or moving images. It is produced by recording photographic images with cameras, or by creating images using animation techniques or visual effects...

, broadcast
Broadcasting
Broadcasting is the distribution of audio and video content to a dispersed audience via any audio visual medium. Receiving parties may include the general public or a relatively large subset of thereof...

 radio
Radio
Radio is the transmission of signals through free space by modulation of electromagnetic waves with frequencies below those of visible light. Electromagnetic radiation travels by means of oscillating electromagnetic fields that pass through the air and the vacuum of space...

 and television
Television
Television is a telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images that can be monochrome or colored, with accompanying sound...

, and the book publishing industries, as well as the print and electronic news media.

Items of Christian pop culture most typically appeal to a broad spectrum of Christians. Some argue that broad-appeal items dominate Christian pop culture because profit-making Christian companies that produce and sell items of Christian pop culture attempt to maximize their profits by emphasizing broadly appealing items. (see culture industry
Culture industry
Culture industry is a term coined by critical theorists Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer , who argued in the chapter of their book Dialectic of Enlightenment, 'The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception' ; that popular culture is akin to a factory producing standardized cultural goods...

) And yet the situation is more complex. To take the example of Christian pop music, it is not the case that the music industry can impose any product they wish. In fact, highly popular types of music have often first been elaborated in small, counter-cultural circles such as Christian punk rock or Christian rap.

Because the Christian pop industry is significantly smaller than the secular pop industry, a few organizations and companies dominate the market and have a strong influence over what is dominant within the industry.

Examples from Australian media

  • GMA Music Awards
    GMA Music Awards
    The Gospel Music Association Dove Awards are presented annually by the Gospel Music Association for outstanding achievements in the Christian music industry. The awards are usually presented during a ceremony in Nashville, Tennessee, that features performances by a number of the industry's newest...

  • Hillsong
  • JCTV
    JCTV
    JCTV is a young adult television network devoted to music videos, owned by the Trinity Broadcasting Network. It is similar to MTV, but with a Christian focus....

    . Worldwide Christian TV channel
  • Koorong
    Koorong
    Koorong is a Christian bookstore chain operating across Australia. It is one of the two largest retailers of Christian books and media in Australia, along with Word book store chain.-History:...

  • Word (bookstore)
    Word (bookstore)
    The Word bookstore is a chain of nineteen Christian bookstores in Australia, plus telephone, internet and mail order. Word is the second-largest Australian Christian book seller after Koorong....


Origins


Christian pop culture has multiple origins. A principal source is the set of industries that make profit by inventing and promulgating cultural material. These include the Christian pop music, film
Film
A film, also called a movie or motion picture, is a series of still or moving images. It is produced by recording photographic images with cameras, or by creating images using animation techniques or visual effects...

, television
Television
Television is a telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images that can be monochrome or colored, with accompanying sound...

, radio
Radio
Radio is the transmission of signals through free space by modulation of electromagnetic waves with frequencies below those of visible light. Electromagnetic radiation travels by means of oscillating electromagnetic fields that pass through the air and the vacuum of space...

, video game, and book
Book
A book is a set or collection of written, printed, illustrated, or blank sheets, made of hot lava, paper, parchment, or other materials, usually fastened together to hinge at one side. A single sheet within a book is called a leaf or leaflet, and each side of a leaf is called a page...

 and comic book
Comic book
A comic book or comicbook is a magazine made up of comics, narrative artwork in the form of separate panels that represent individual scenes, often accompanied by dialog as well as including...

 publishing
Publishing
Publishing is the process of production and dissemination of literature or information—the activity of making information available to the general public...

 industries.

A different source of Christian pop culture is the set of professional communities that provide the public with facts about the world, frequently accompanied by interpretation. These include the news media
News media
The news media are those elements of the mass media that focus on delivering news to the general public or a target public.These include print media , broadcast news , and more recently the Internet .-Etymology:A medium is a carrier of something...

, and scientific and scholarly communities. The work of scientists and scholars is mined by the news media and conveyed to the general public, often emphasizing "factoids" that have inherent appeal or the power to amaze.

Another source of Christian pop culture which makes it differ from pop culture is the influence from mega churches. Christian pop culture reflects the current popularity of megachurches, but also the uniting of smaller community churches. The culture has been led by Hillsong Church
Hillsong Church
Hillsong Church is a Pentecostal megachurch affiliated with Australian Christian Churches and located in Sydney, Australia. The church's senior pastors, Brian and Bobbie Houston, began the church in 1983 as the Hills Christian Life Centre in Baulkham Hills...

 in particular, which resides in many countries including Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, and the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

.

Unlike pop culture, the transition from traditional Christian culture to the more modern Christian pop culture has been slower, evident in the popularity of the more traditional Anglican and Catholic
Catholic
The word catholic comes from the Greek phrase , meaning "on the whole," "according to the whole" or "in general", and is a combination of the Greek words meaning "about" and meaning "whole"...

 Churches over Pentecostal and Megachurches.

Criticism


Christian pop culture, being so widely available, has been open to much criticism. One charge is that Christian pop culture tends to be superficial, a lot like pop culture. Cultural items that require extensive experience, training, or introspection
Introspection
Introspection is the self-observation and reporting of conscious inner thoughts, desires and sensations. It is a conscious and purposive process relying on thinking, reasoning, and examining one's own thoughts, feelings, and, in more spiritual cases, one's soul...

 to be appreciated seldom become items of popular culture. Another claims that Christian pop culture is rooted more in sensationalism
Sensationalism
Sensationalism is a type of editorial bias in mass media in which events and topics in news stories and pieces are over-hyped to increase viewership or readership numbers...

 than reality.

Within Christianity, it is often criticized for being too secular. It is sometimes seen as being pushed by corporations to produce public consumerism
Consumerism
Consumerism is a social and economic order that is based on the systematic creation and fostering of a desire to purchase goods and services in ever greater amounts. The term is often associated with criticisms of consumption starting with Thorstein Veblen...

, despite internal claims that it is based upon spirituality
Spirituality
Spirituality can refer to an ultimate or an alleged immaterial reality; an inner path enabling a person to discover the essence of his/her being; or the “deepest values and meanings by which people live.” Spiritual practices, including meditation, prayer and contemplation, are intended to develop...

.

See also

  • Christian pop rock
  • Christian pop
  • Contemporary Christian music
    Contemporary Christian music
    Contemporary Christian music is a genre of modern popular music which is lyrically focused on matters concerned with the Christian faith...

  • Pop culture