Here’s a quotation from Future Men by Douglas Wilson that has stood out to me and made me think (emphasis his):
Pop culture is a disposable culture for those who agree to consume it. But because cultures are meant to be handed down to subsequent generations, because cultures are meant to be preserved, a consumable culture is really an anti-culture. […]
The central sin of pop culture is therefore a sin of omission. It displaces true culture, it does not itself adequately perform the functions of a culture, and sinners in a fallen world need to have the functions of a culture performed. Pop culture is a culture which does not enculturate, a culture which does not discipline. It is therefore an oxymoronic culture. In a biblical culture, a man expects his great-grandchildren to read what he has read, sing what he has sung, listen to what he has listened to. In an evanescent culture, like the one that surrounds us, a man expects to have all his “cultural” experiences buried with him. In the year 2525, do you think anyone will have heard of that dumb song? (From the chapter “Contempt for the Cool”)
I never thought of pop culture as an anti-culture before, but it makes sense. The ever-changing face of pop culture demands a generation gap, isolating younger people from the wisdom, guidance, and friendship of their elders. In this sense, pop culture destroys true culture, and it is inherently unbiblical.
This is something that annoys me about “praise and worship” music — it’s all about singing the latest songs (very pop-culture–ish). How many P&W songs from 20 years ago do you sing? I remember Marty once remarking on how the college group used to have hymn-sings at his house…now most students no longer know those hymns. They only know songs that they’ll forget in a few years and their kids wouldn’t like anyway. I wonder how much the musical heritage of the church has been damaged by this concern with fashion.
What do you think? Is Wilson right or is he wrong? Is there more nuance here than he’s letting on? Am I just too lazy to learn new songs? Can I just keep rhyming on and on? And how should we respond to this?