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.