Walking the line between nerd and cool.

Parallel Cultures

I received a free issue of Collide Magazine with an order I placed for some books online recently.  They subtitle themselves, “Where Media and the Church Converge.”  I was drawn to their article titled “Our Parallel Universe: The Christian Subculture Goes Online.”  An excerpt:

For the purposes of this article, the Christian subculture or parallel universe is characterized by the places and products Christians have created for themselves, which both resemble and reject popular culture.  These products and places typically take something found in contemporary society, remove the immoral or secular elements, and replace them with a Christian worldview.  The result is a culture within a culture, whose products and places are similar to those found in the mainstream, but different.  They are parallel.

Essentially, Christians are taking all the good ideas by others and making them our own, only more wholesome.  While this is not necessarily bad, I’m not sure it’s best.  When we separate ourselves from the world in this way, we seem strange.  We seem disconnected.  We also withdraw our witness from the popular culture when we make a parallel one.  GodTube is fine, I guess, but why not flood YouTube with Christian content?  Are we afraid we’ll offend?  Are we afraid people will question what we believe?  Why be safe when we’re called to be salt and light?

It comes back to my basic premise for culture and kids.  We can build a wall (the parallel culture) to keep out the bad stuff of the world, or we can give our kids better armor to be a light in the world.

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4 responses

  1. Tim

    I agree. Better “armor” is what they need. However, our instincts are to guide and protect and we have a tendency to want to protect first and foremost cause we are scared for them and their well-being. It comes down to a trust issue because all of the protection in the world always fails. The real challenge is to provide the armor (training, teaching, modeling, loving care, etc.) and all that it means so we can eventually let go in love and trust.

    Not easy to do but “armor” is the only way in the world today.

    I guess/assume the “GodTube” can be a resource and a refuge, but not the answer. Isolation is not What Jesus Would Do.

    April 21, 2008 at 8:48 pm

  2. Jaime

    I’ve always agreed with Jason on the “armor” thing. But once we have our own kids, I’m not sure how quickly I’ll be encouraging them to use YouTube and MySpace on their own. I *love* both of those sites… but before my MySpace was set to private, I got an invitation that looked legit, and when I clicked to check out the person’s profile, it was a porn site. Likewise, on YouTube I love checking out the top videos, but again, occasionally the most popular are not the most wholesome.

    I guess my point is that armor is *extremely* important, as is being in the world but not of the world. But parents also need to be able to judge what their kids can handle and what they can’t at any given time. Which, I think, would be a very difficult task if I were a parent, in this crazy broken world.

    We should get someone to teach a class on parenting the internet generation. πŸ™‚

    April 22, 2008 at 6:41 am

  3. A class is an excellent idea!

    Armor sometimes has the implied sense of protecting oneself and going into battle. Like so many other things in the Christian faith, however, it’s communal, not single. We can equip kids with the Armor of God, but then we walk alongside them and watch their back as it were. The Legions were successful because they fought as a team. Families and the Church are strongest when they fight together in the world, not on their own.

    April 22, 2008 at 1:37 pm

  4. Eric F

    Great ideas, all. As a parent, I struggle with what to let my kids get into and what not to. Of course, they are still young and we can still control that to a large degree. However, they don’t stay young (still working on how to make that happen! πŸ™‚ )

    We debated home-schooling our children and even did for the 1st…through Kindergarten. However, it wasn’t for us and there is a great need for kids to be in public school who will be a light for Jesus and his Gospel. Our job as parents is to train them and give them the armor that they need – and it’s quite the scary prospect! Especially when you have those moments of wondering whether you can offer what they need. We are SO gratefull for our church family and extended family (both biological and church) that can walk besides us in this venture.

    I’m also grateful for things like God-Tube, Christian radio (music and drama), and Christian videos that can be great tools with which we can train our children in a “safe” environment until they are ready to move out.

    April 22, 2008 at 5:24 pm

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