All God’s Children and Blue Suede Shoes

I am going to begin this post with a confession.  I Just Don’t Get the title: All God’s Children and Blue Suede Shoes. And I feel like I should get it.  This has secretly bugged me for over a decade.  Will someone please tell me, what are the Blue Suede Shoes about?  Does it come from a song?

With that off my chest, let’s start at the beginning.  Cindy followed up some discussion about popular culture (and dismal Christian imitations) with the suggestion that we read through this book.  Cindy, was my husband’s hero when she shut down her blog.  (My husband lives a very rewarding life without appliances that plug in.)  To our delight (and Curt’s dismay) Cindy started blogging again, and here we are talking about Blue Suede Shoes.   

My format (this week, at least) will be to post a quote and respond to it. 

Popular culture, on the other hand, specializes in instant gratification.  […] It is possible to develop a taste for instant everything.

Nurturing appetites is one of my hobby-horses.  Our palate for what is true, beautiful and good has to be developed.  My father urged me to sit down (!) and listen to music; he explained the word play in a poem.  I keep within me an afternoon in Seattle when my son gave me a tour of his adopted city, pointing out architectural and structural wonders which would otherwise have gone right past me.  We have to be taught appreciation. 

The thin Christian veneer in such projects [a Christian soap opera] very quickly wears away, and what is underneath determines the response of consumers of such products.  Such a strategy is a sad reminder that most of the Christian criticism of popular culture has focused on content while ignoring form.   

I’ve been mulling over this content/form question lately in regard to magazines.  I’m not going to say all magazines are evil, but I think the form of most popular magazines (quick resolutions to problems, three page articles, pleasing visuals) end up producing discontent.  It’s an undeveloped thought, but there it is. Back when I listened to Christian radio, I ended up despising the call-in programs asking for advice.  Someone has a lifetime of tangled knots and the smooth voice on the other end is supposed to untie each one in three minutes so they could take their (non-commerical) break. 

Its [pop culture’s] challenges and temptations do not confront us like the proverbial harlot whose seductions are clearly to sin, straightforward and simple.  It has many dimensions and contours and hidden agendas that require some historical and experiential perspective before we can evaluate it fairly and, having understood it, conduct ourselves in its presence with wisdom.

If it were only about television, I would foist some pat answers on you.  Turn it off. Pick up a book. End of discussion.  For our family, it is that simple.  After two seasons of American Idol my husband put the kibosh on laughing at the hopelessly untalented; we became enamored with House until we decided there was too much junk in between the brilliant moments.  

But the internet.  The internet has gobbled and digested massive chunks of my interest, investment, and time, completely altering my life with little noticing on my part (more noticing on my husband’s part).  My first counter-response is “but it has enriched my life in so many ways.”  It’s true.  Dimensions and contours, indeed! 

Have you noticed what has happened when a group of people gather together informally?  We huddle around a screen and take turns showing favorite YouTube videos to one another.  Laugh hysterically, gulp, scream, respond.  I do it. You do it. There is incredible stuff out there.  Ya gotta see this!

But all that looking has precluded the kind of talking, discussing and debating–communing–which was the stuff of our college years.  We’ve traded active interactions for passive consumption.  


15 thoughts on “All God’s Children and Blue Suede Shoes

  1. I loved this phrase, too –  dimensions and contours and hidden agendas  like a puzzle, I have to figure out, discern, or read between the lines.I am not yet ashamed of my computer skills and internet reading.  I consider it *disability insurance*  😉

  2. Oh, goodness, Carol, I can’t believe I knew Elvis sang that song and you didn’t! I still remember you and Skip jitterbugging in his living room at Bible school that time 

  3. I left out the most important part: I’m just starting this class on journalistic writing, but in the first chapter of my book, there is an extended section on how those of us on the internet–especially those with blogs–have become what the authors call “pro-sumers.” By this they mean we are no longer just consumers of the news; we take part in it online; we correct, add, subtract from what the news media puts out there. It puts a whole new spin on what we consider “news” and what it will become in the twenty-first century.  And it all ties into your comments on how we’d rather type it in, than look each other in the face and say it. Kinda scary, in my opinion.

  4. @LimboLady – That, my friend, was the only dance “moment” of my life.  Who was more surprised that the other knew how to jitterbug: me or my New Testament teacher?  Yeah, I’m going to think about this the rest of the day (smile)…

  5. Funny that you mention training the palate. My husband and I have always told relatives that the reason our children are media-free is because we are trying to encourage certain OTHER appetites from which we fear media would distract them or ruin for them. However, I have noticed that if I watch too much TV (like when I’m nursing newborns late at night and trying to stay awake), I start to UNDO my own good appetites. So it seems like it isn’t enough to develop them, but we also have to maintain them. Of course, this is what you essentially said when you mentioned turning off American Idol….

  6. I totally agree about the magazines.  I quit reading them several years ago when I realized they made me envy others: homes, clothing, bodies, faces, etc.  Even the women’s magazines made me feel inadequate if I didn’t cook the new recipes, decorate the house, and make a production out of whatever holiday was nearest. Advertising is so insidious…..I’ve had mixed feelings about the time I spend on the internet also.  I love the friends I’ve made and the support I feel, but am I missing out on something right here in my “real world”?Sandy

  7. i guess everyone takes things based on their personality /background /whatever else–for me, project magazines for scrapbooking or knitting are the way to go, or even a magazine on organization. i may not do all the things within the pages, but my creative juices are stirred. Even magazines about homes–i love to look at the way a room is set up, the use of colors, the placement of treasures that make it one’s own. They keep my creativity moving. And, indefensively, i love tv. The interplay of characters on a show–are they believable, what are their strengths, weaknesses…seriously, that’s what i like. My husband on the other hand watches tv to learn: history channel, foreign countries, science, news. Stuff like that. He’s full of weird bits of knowledge from both his reading and his tv viewing. i suppose these may be some of the reasons i haven’t read as many books–i don’t think i analyze them much either when i read. i tend to just read for enjoyment, stories of lives, how the story flows and such. My youngest daughter is much more like you–she prefers the classics to modern day popular reading, and she thinks, she analyzes. i’m thinking she got that part from her dad’s genes. i agree absolutely with the appetite-nurturing concept, i know that is true. And it is a conscious choice, but i don’t often think of it! i’m extremely left handed, and very right brained, and i’m most purposeful probably in the creative arena– It’s just so interesting how we as people can be so different! i’m glad you blog, Carol, i enjoy how very differently your brain works, and the information you share, and the encouragement you give. So count me in as one who so wants you to stay hooked up to the internet.  

  8. I love your format for this week’s AGC&BSS, so I hope you wont mind if I’m a copycat.  I’m thinking of trying it for at least one of Wednesday synopses.Just received Cooks Illustrated as a Christmas gift this year.  Previously, I did not know of the magazine, even tho I love to cook.

  9. @magistramater – Oh, i absolutely know what you mean! i guess what i meant to say is i do better reading the kinds of magazines that stretch my creativity than just bum me out because i know i’ll never look like that! And now that you mention it, i do like cooking magazines–however, i’m not so good at acting on those…

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